University of Austin Makes its South By Southwest Debut
SXSW
Mar 21, 2024

University of Austin Makes its South By Southwest Debut

Week featured the launch of the Austin Union debate society, an appearance by public intellectual Tim Urban, and more

Maggie Kelly
Maggie Kelly
University of Austin

The University of Austin, now admitting its founding first-year class, planted its flag as the city’s newest cultural and intellectual center during the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) Expo & Conference, an annual convergence of film, interactive media, music festivals, and conferences organized jointly in March in Austin, Texas.

UATX’s week of sponsored SXSW activities reached its apex Saturday, March 9, with the launch of the Austin Union, the world’s newest debate society, founded on norms of civil discourse and inspired by the fearless pursuit of truth. The exclusive event featured an inaugural debate on Is the U.S. Constitution Broken? between UATX Dean of the Center for Economics, Politics and History, Professor Morgan Marietta, and UT-Austin law professor and Constitutional law scholar Richard Albert.

“At the University of Austin, no one will be shouted down,” said Marietta, the Austin Union’s faculty advisor, by way of introduction. “But they might be shown to be wrong. And that’s the right standard.”

Following the debate, legal scholar, former ACLU president, and UATX advisor Nadine Strossen and independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. engaged in A Conversation on Free Speech, Civil Discourse & Debate in a Healthy Democracy.

UATX Chief Innovation Officer Keri Waters said that she was “thrilled” by their conversation.

 “It's been a long time since I've seen two public figures engage so broadly and deeply on a stage,” she said. “They both had a solid command of the history, legal precedents, and context of the ongoing fight for free speech in America, and their insightful comments about how that fight is evolving in the age of technology helped me expand my own views on the topic.”

“It's refreshing to be able to learn from our public leaders.”

On Friday, March 8, UATX admissions, advancement, and talent network teams connected with over 1,000 partners at the Startup Crawl at Capital Factory, Texas’s most active early-stage startup investor and largest community of entrepreneurs.

Staff and students spread the word about UATX at the Capital Factory Startup Crawl

The University of Austin also announced a formal partnership with Capital Factory. UATX faculty, staff, and students will access the incubator’s extensive network of events, mentors, and services, nurturing their ventures and linking them to the thriving Texas startup ecosystem.

Earlier in the week, UATX opened the doors of its Scarbrough campus to the press and the public for an Open House on Wednesday, March 6, where its Deans were on hand to answer questions. Leaders of UATX affiliate The Mill Institute also showcased their celebrated “Viewpoint Diversity” seminars with a student discussion on the conflict in the Middle East.

High school students discuss the conflict in the Middle East during the Mill Institute’s Viewpoint Diversity Challenge

“Yesterday we discussed Israel/Palestine with the amazing students @AlphaSchoolATX by exploring the meaning of the year 1948,” the Mill Institute posted March 7. “Their insights were open-hearted, curious, and challenging. What more can educators ask for?”

On Tuesday, March 5, acclaimed writer, thinker, and artist Tim Urban delved into How Educators Can Impact American Politics at an official SXSW EDU solo speaking engagement, followed by a VIP reception at UATX’s Scarbrough campus. The annual SXSW EDU conference and festival celebrates innovation in the education industry, offering compelling sessions, in-depth workshops, learning experiences, and more.

Writer, thinker, and artist Tim Urban speaks at SXSW

“Spent time at UATX yesterday, whose inaugural school year starts in September,” Urban posted March 6. “A politically diverse group uniformly committed to keeping the new university focused on truth, not politics.”

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