Renowned Thinker Tim Urban to Discuss the Future of Discourse at SXSW EDU, Sponsored by UATX
SXSW
Feb 14, 2024

Renowned Thinker Tim Urban to Discuss the Future of Discourse at SXSW EDU, Sponsored by UATX

Blogger and author Tim Urban offers the metaphor of a "vertical dimension" as a new way to overcome our political divisions.

Maggie Kelly
Maggie Kelly
University of Austin

The University of Austin is proud to announce its sponsorship of renowned thinker, blogger, author and illustrator Tim Urban's speaking engagement at SXSW EDU on March 5, 2024. Urban, the mind behind the popular blog "Wait but Why," will tackle the crucial topic of "How Educators Can Help Fix What's Wrong with Our Society '' in the event's main hall at 12:30 PM for SXSW EDU badge holders and expo attendees.

Urban’s insightful and humorous presentations have garnered a global following, and his take on political discourse is no exception. He proposes a thought-provoking metaphor of a vertical dimension, separate from the traditional left-right political spectrum. On this “ladder,” low-rung thinking happens when we succumb to primal instincts like political tribalism and confirmation bias, while high-rung thinking is more nuanced, clear-headed, and productive. This framework aligns with UATX’s mission to foster critical thinking, elevate civil discourse, and encourage intellectual humility.

UATX's Mill Institute, dedicated to equipping educators with the tools to discuss complex and controversial topics with their students, has already incorporated Urban's work into its programs. "In today's polarized environment echo chambers amplify division and discourage meaningful conversation," remarked Ellie Avishai, Co-Director of the Mill Institute. "Resources like our Viewpoint Diversity Challenge help students articulate conflicting positions, define their terms, and push back on the notion that open questions are closed—skills Urban calls ‘higher rung’ thinking."

Urban, a recent transplant to Austin, embodies the city's vibrant intellectual renaissance. He expressed his gratitude for UATX’s partnership: "I appreciate the support of UATX in helping me get my message out, and I'm glad the message is connecting with the higher education community in Austin. It gives me hope to see efforts like UATX starting to grow."

Find out how you can engage with UATX, The Mill Institute and Tim Urban at SXSW EDU here.

Undergraduate applications for Fall 2024 are open at uaustin.org/apply.

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