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Monday, November 19, 2018

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Rockwell lecture features TV host, YouTube personality Jason Silva


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TV host and YouTube personality Jason Silva drew students to the Cullen Performance Hall Thursday night for his lecture on humans, technology and changing the world. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

Television host and YouTube personality Jason Silva took the stage at Cullen Performance Hall on Thursday night to share this thoughts on humans, technology and the changing world.

During his hour-long lecture, Silva encouraged the audience to “induce revelry, dance, create, transform.”

Silva is the most recent lecture speaker in the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Lecture on Ethics and Leadership at UH. Associate Vice Chancellor and Associate Vice President for Development Cliff Redd chaired the Rockwell event and committee this year. He said he originally pitched the idea of adding Silva to the Rockwell lecture series when his 32-year-old son showed him Silva’s videos.

“I was quite taken by Jason’s perspective on the world and further his optimistic view of human kind and our future,” Redd said. “As chair of the event, I shared my thoughts with the Rockwell selection committee who wholeheartedly agreed Jason would be an outstanding speaker for the Rockwell Lecture series.”

Redd hoped that Silva’s presence at the University would illicit thought-provoking questions and said the students’ reactions to the lecture and their activism during the Q&A that followed were “very validating.”

“The intention was to provide a personal mind-opening experience for UH students to see the world, other humans, diversity and technology with a fresh perspective,” Redd said.

Integrated communications junior Lisa Braziel said she attended the lecture for extra credit in her law and ethics class and didn’t know what to expect.

“I liked the effects that he had in the video, the way he would express himself (was effective),” Braziel said. “Some people can learn just by listening, but others learn more by actually watching and hearing him speak about it.”

During the lecture, Silva spoke about his work as host of National Geographic’s “Brain Game” and his YouTube series “Shots of Awe.” In his web series, Silva shares his thoughts and epiphany’s — all in a single, unscripted shot.

“Brain Games is a wonderful show, but that’s TV, that’s old-school, big production, pre-scripted, pre-staged,” Silva said. “These (YouTube) videos only work because there is no script, no quota and no design of what it has to be about.”

He credits his ability to encourage passion, activism and complex thought in the viewing world to his vast interests in all things creative and beautiful, whether that be architecture, technology, social connections or innovative discoveries.

“The internet is the collective melting pot where ideas can intermingle and fuse, where time, space and distance can collapse, where brains can come together to share inspiration and transformation,” Silva said. “I thought, ‘O.K., if I can distil a profound idea, if I can close an epiphany in a single video, if I can put this content online, maybe it can spread. Maybe it can change the world, it can change ourselves, change the way we think, get out of our own ways.’”

At the end of the lecture, Silva excitedly welcomed a dialogue with the audience, rather than questions from the audience. Quickly, a line formed full of audience members with questions of how to think more creatively and see the world more beautifully.

One UH student asked what the University can do to aid Silva on one of his projects that might need a diverse student body like UH’s to take action and make a change. Silva said that he was excited to hear about UH’s diversity, because growing up in Venezuela and attending an international school, he was surrounded by diversity.

“And when I see a lot of the hatred between different cultures, it makes be depressed because I know what is possible when you have respect for one another and intellectual discourse,” Silva said. “I’m honored to be here with you guys. I think y’all are kind of a model for that idea and I’d love to see what we can collaborate on. So yeah, rock and roll, bro.”

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