High school students explore artificial intelligence and urban farming with Rice's Civic Humanist Fellows

The Civic Humanist Program launched its 2017 Medical Humanities and Cultural Heritage events this fall, delivering a total of 10 events, which included: five campus field trips and five off-campus lectures for local Houston high school groups.

This year's Civic Humanist program was led by two talented Civic Humanist fellows. Hannah Biggs, a PhD Candidate in the English Department, was Medical Humanities fellow. Biggs offered creative, interactive lectures on urban farming, sustainability, agriculture and the humanities, opening students' eyes to how they can better appreciate and engage in topics such as "food-to-table" eating, hydroponics, and rooftop gardening. In addition to her lectures, Biggs took students on tours of Rice community gardens, while also informing them about examples and best practices in major metropolitan centers like Houston.  

Erin Prophet, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Religion at Rice, was our Cultural Heritage fellow. Prophet took students on an imagination-expanding yet super-practical journey into the nature of artificial intelligence at the crossroads of the humanities and medicine. With a master's degree in public health (epidemiology), Prophet generously offered her tips and insights into this highly debated topic. Both lectures were full of useful and eye-opening information for students!  

*Erin Prophet speaking with students at Debakey High School for Health Professionals during a lecture in October 2017.

After their lectures, Prophet and Biggs took students on a tour of Rice campus, showing them relevant sites, such as public art and local gardens on campus, including Jaume Plensa’s ‘Mirror’ sculpture and the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany skyspace. Click here to view information about the skyspace.  

Each field trip concluded with a creative writing prompt assigned by Biggs and Prophet respectively, which students started while having lunch near the beautiful courtyard in front of the old Rice Art Gallery linked to Sewel Hall. 

Rice undergraduate Yves Ye, assisted a field trip for the Cultural Heritage program. Sierra Cowan, the 2017-2018 President of Rice Medical Humanities (a student-run organization) attended Prophet's lecture at Debakey High School for Health Professionals. She movingly shared about her own passion for the medical humanities, which noticably inspired students in attendance.

Overall, students seemed to really enjoy their field trip experience, learning about many facets of artificial intelligence, medicine, and urban farming.


*Group picture of Northside High School students during their visit to Rice on November 30.

The 2017 Medical Humanities series led by Erin Prophet held the following events: Hauke Alternative High School visited on October 5th for a Medical Humanities Field; Yes Prep High School took its first field trip to Rice on October 13th; and Alief Elsik High School came on October 24th. Additionally, Prophet gave a wonderful lecture at DeBakey High School for Health Professionals on October 11th and one at Sharpstown High School on November 2nd.

The 2017 Cultural Heritage series led by Hannah Biggs held the following events: Westbury High school visited Rice for a field trip and lecture on November 14th; and Davis Northside  HS visited Rice for a field trip and lecture on November 30th. Biggs also gave spectacular lectures at: DeBakey High School for Health Professionals on October 11th; North Houston Early College High School on October 18th; and Reagan High School on November 3rd.

More field trips and lectures are in store for the spring 2018. Stay tuned for additional news on the Medical Humanities and Cultural Heritage events with the HRC's Civic Humanist Program!