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Campbell Conference contemplates future of Sci-Fi education

School is out at the University of Kansas, but the discussion about education is still going strong. The 42nd annual Campbell Conference will starts tomorrow and will run through Sunday. This year’s theme is “From the Fringes to the Classroom: What’s Next in SF Education.” The conference will include ceremonies for the Campbell and Sturgeon awards, round-table discussions and a display of rare science-fiction books, papers and manuscripts.

“This conference is unique in being devoted to a topic that is just now being considered by a variety of educational institutions--new programs featuring science fiction, particularly degree programs, but also applications of science fiction to everyday problems,” said James Gunn, founding director of the KU Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction.

Many of the special guests will be discussing various science-fiction topics, including SF education. Lisa Yaszek, professor at the Georgia Tech University School of Literature, Media and Communication, will be the first speaker of the day on Saturday at 9 a.m.

“Georgia Tech was one of the first universities to offer science fiction classes for college credit,” Yaszek said, “but until recently the liberal arts have not been a major part of education at our institute.”

If you have never attended a conference like this, Gunn’s advice is to be ready to discuss your ideas and explore to new ones.

“I’m looking forward to sharing ideas, and maybe future interactions, with the people who are engaged in the most innovative projects around the country and the world,” Gunn said.

According to Fanac.org, the first science-fiction conferences and conventions were small gatherings and took place in the late 1930s. The close connections between authors, scholars and fans still exist today. That closeness is what Yaszek says makes the SF community great.

“Events like the Campbell Conference awards ceremony allow us to come together and to celebrate both the accomplishments of specific authors and the unique nature of our entire community,” Yaszek said.

She also believes that attendees of the conference will gain a new appreciation of science fiction as serious entertainment.

“That is, as a mode of storytelling that is seriously entertaining,” Yaszek said, “But also demands its readers seriously entertain new and sometimes very surprising ideas about the necessary relations of science, technology and society.”

For more details about the conference, go to http://www.sfcenter.ku.edu/campbell-conference.htm.
Tags: campbell award, campbell conference, jim gunn, ku, lisa yaszek, science fiction, sturgeon award
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