SPARK Evening Programming

SPARK—an evening program for curious minds that explores fun and intriguing topics in a relaxed environment.

Featured Past Event - Making it Up as You Go: The Importance of Improv

Thursday, April 11, University Union

  • 5:30–6:30 p.m.: Happy Hour Reception
  • 6:30–8 p.m.: Moderated Discussion

Osher’s SPARK evening programming is back with an edutainment event that promises both levity and learning as the conversation hones in on what makes us laugh and why.

Noted professor of philosophy Steven Gimbel joins Michelle Faulkner-Forson, director of Baltimore Improv Group, to share how improv isn’t just funny, but how improv skills can help everyone in their everyday life. Get insight into the tenets, the philosophy, and the history of improv comedy while also having a good laugh.

Also, enjoy a special performance by TU’s very own improv group—ImprompTU.

About the speakers

Michelle Faulkner-Forson 

Michelle Faulkner-Forson 

Michelle Faulkner-Forson became the managing director of the Baltimore Improv Group (BIG) in February 2022. Originally from Chicago, she moved to Baltimore where she earned an MFA in Community Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art. As an all-around creative thinker, her work is intent on building positive experiences for audiences and performers alike.

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Steven Gimbel, PhD

Steven Gimbel

Steven Gimbel, PhD, is a professor of philosophy at Gettysburg College. His research interests range from the philosophy of science to the philosophy of humor. He has received distinguished teaching honors. Included in his scholarship are Albert Einstein: His Space and Times (Yale University Press, 2015), Isn’t That Clever: A Philosophy of Humor and Comedy (Routledge, 2017), and a forthcoming book on the history of humor, It’s Funny Cause It’s True, with co-author, Jennifer Marra. 

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Past SPARK Courses

Instructor: Jack Burkert, senior museum educator, Baltimore Museum of Industry

Change has come frequently throughout Baltimore’s history, affecting its people and their lives and work. At no time was change more dynamic than in the hundred-fifty-year period that first made Baltimore an industrial giant. Learn about the rise and fall of industry and the prosperity that came with it. Examine Baltimore from the Industrial Age through its time as a thriving metropolis and reflect on where the city is today. Jack Burkert is a Baltimore native who lectures at Osher and at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, following a long career as an educator and consultant. 

Instructor: Dana Kollmann, clinical associate professor of anthropology

Ever wondered how realistic those true crime dramas are when it comes to the forensic crime scene processing? Gain insight into typical real world forensic science principles—and some that are not so typical. Learn how pacemaker data, rubber bands, seed pods, and atmospheric carbon-14 have solved crimes and how forensic science applications impact other disciplines including art, history, and archaeology. 

Instructor: Jennifer Scott, professor of physics and astronomy

From its ancient roots to today’s modern developments including the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, this course will have you seeing stars—and other astronomical wonders. Topics include: the history of human understanding of the cosmos; the formation and evolution of stars and planets inside and outside the solar system; the structure and properties of galaxies; and the origin of the universe. Students will engage in telescope observing and other hands-on activities, and a visit to TU’s planetarium.