One Butler: The Brain Project

Catherine Pangan MS ’99

from Spring 2017

What do you get when you combine leaders in the neuroscience field from around Indianapolis, an engaged community, and a spirit of integrated learning? You guessed it—One Butler: The Brain Project. 

One Butler: The Brain Project is a yearlong, campus-wide initiative focusing on brain health, with the goal of developing appreciation of how neuroscience is woven into the tapestry of our lives. 

The Brain Project transcends academic disciplines and is led by a dynamic steering committee that includes representatives from the community, each of Butler’s six colleges, students, trustees, the library, performing arts venues, Student Affairs, the Health and Recreation Complex, and several faculty members who are already using neuroscientific research in their curriculum. (Read more on Butler faculty neuroscience study in this issue’s faculty profile of Professor Tara Lineweaver.) 

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor kicked off the initiative in September 2016 to a packed house in Clowes Memorial Hall. The Brain Project includes a yearlong speaker series, integrated coursework opportunities for students, faculty art exhibits, and connections in our Themed Living Communities in the residence halls. 

A central highlight of One Butler: The Brain Project is the installation of the “Big Brains!” This exhibit of 10 enormous fiberglass brain sculptures (5’x6’), commissioned by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, depicts neuroscience themes (mental health, concussion, food, etc.) and will be displayed on campus this April. 

Efforts have been coordinated with community partners, including the Eskenazi Center for Brain Care, Community Health Network, and others. 

Some of the topics explored this year include: 

  • Mental health’s cutting-edge research in schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s 
  • Creativity: music, art, and innovation 
  • Addictions, Brain Food, and Sleep 
  • Sports Wellness: prevention of traumas and concussions 
  • How we learn: education and neuroscience with an Educational Neuroscience Conference offering April 29

The Butler Brain Project seeks to distinguish Butler as an environment where academics, student life, interpersonal relationships, and physical and mental health are informed by knowledge of the human brain and how it works. It also aims to create a model for comprehensive, collaborative, and transdisciplinary exploration of a relevant topic that can be replicated and scaled to other campus environments.

Serving as a convener for neuroscience educators and clinicians from Central Indiana, we expect 40,000–50,000 students, faculty, staff, and community members will experience the One Butler: The Brain Project. We hope you can join us for this brain-boosting experience! Please visit www.butler.edu/brainproject for the most up-to-date information. You can also find us on Facebook under One Butler: Brain Project.