Curiosity Club satisfies students’ thirst for knowledge

By Annabelle Barnett, Contributing Writer

Vishwanatha Mallampooty, freshman in Engineering, was in the Krannert Art Museum when he realized he wished he could take an art history class without the stressful homework and essays attached. Additionally, he knew as a physics major, it would be difficult to incorporate an art history class into his schedule.

Students now have the opportunity to quench their curiosity with a new RSO dedicated to learning for pleasure. The Curiosity Club offers students a platform to hear speakers from a variety of backgrounds speak about their passion. So far, this has ranged from theories on the origin of life to demonstrations on general relativity.

“I created a club so that people who want to learn about everything can learn about everything in an environment which is going to be stress-free, with no assignments and no exams,” Mallampooty, Curiosity Club founder and president, said.

Meetings are beginner-friendly, and all majors are welcome. So far, meetings have been structured with different speakers presenting on different topics. Looking into the future, Mallampooty intends to organize more experiential activities, such as going to the Parkland Planetarium.

The highlight of the semester thus far was a presentation by professor Kirk Sanders, the head of the philosophy department. During this meeting, he spoke about Aristotelian ethics and his lecture quickly turned into a debate about what makes a good life.

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The club has had other speakers this semester as well, including a professor in the physics department as well as a member of the club’s resident adviser who had been doing research on competing theories for the origin of life.

For example, during the talk about the origin of life on earth, many possible hypotheses were debated. Some of these ideas included that life comes from proteins or from a meteorite.

“We talked about the pros and cons of each theory, and then it pretty much became a debate,” Mallampooty said

Keerat Singh, general member of the Curiosity Club and freshman in Engineering, enjoys that she can learn about interesting topics without having the pressure of classwork and a structured syllabus.

“If there’s a certain line of questions that people are asking, they can focus more in that direction, so it kind of gets fit to the audience,” she said.

Jyotsna Joshi, also a general member and freshman in Engineering, has noticed how informed and dedicated the professors and other speakers are. Every time a presenter attends a meeting, she said, they bring an energy noticeably different from the traditional classroom setting.

“They care about what we think,” Joshi said. “It’s more of someone who cares about what they’re doing (and) sharing that with people who care about what they’re doing.”

The club meeting locations vary and usually occur once every two weeks, although Mallampooty is considering instituting weekly meetings.

Members are also able to explore many of the buildings and classrooms on campus they have never been to before.

“It has an actual physical travel aspect to it, which adds to the spirit of the Curiosity Club,” Joshi said.

Joshi hopes more speakers from the humanities discipline are included in Curiosity Club meetings. Since many members are also engineering majors including herself, they rarely get the chance to take a course in the humanities, though they often want to.

In a few weeks, an anthropology professor is scheduled to come and speak.

Much of the club’s success has come from student’s curiosity about all subjects, especially ones they do not normally get a chance to explore in their academic endeavors.

“The amount of people there doesn’t reduce the quality of the lecture,” Joshi said.

So far, students have responded positively to learning for pleasure and to debate with  informed and passionate speakers. While many college students associate learning with deadlines and demanding course schedules, the Curiosity Club can serve as a creative outlet as well as a reduced-stress learning launchpad.

In terms of the club’s future, Mallampooty hopes to gain more members across all majors. His original goal for this semester was to have 50 members by the end of the school year. At the last meeting, 46 people attended.

“It is taking off way faster than I thought it would,” Mallampooty said.

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