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Social Alchemy Symposium Culture & Community in Context

April 10, 2022 - April 12, 2022

The Social Alchemy Symposium is a participatory mini-conference happening online and in person in New Harmony, Indiana April 10-13, 2022. Twice the site of utopian experiments in communitarian living, New Harmony is now a town rich in beauty, culture, and history. And it makes the perfect location for people to enjoy some moments of respite and reconnect with others through conversations about the roles of art, design, and place in society.


Conversations — led by more than 20 notable authors, artists, designers, researchers, and philosophers from Indiana and around the world — will look at the role of utopian thinking today and tomorrow while connecting with the past.


The symposium is free to attend. Donations are welcome. Discounted lodging is available at the New Harmony Inn. Attendees are welcome to join any parts of the conference in person, online, or both. Registration is required to support communication and feedback.


Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/social-alchemy-symposium-tickets-154244510483


The symposium — organized through a partnership between Big Car Collaborative, the University of Southern Indiana, Historic New Harmony, and New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art — is made possible by Indiana Humanities, the Efroymson Family Fund, and New America. Additional partners include the Indiana State Museum and PATTERN Magazine.


Speakers, in-person unless otherwise noted, include: Emily St. John Mandel, author of the 2015 utopian/dystopian novel, Station Eleven among other books and essays. Station Eleven has been translated into 33 languages and was adapted into an HBO series premiering in 2021 (virtual talk). Maurice Broaddus, author of fiction centered on utopian and dystopian ideas through the genres of science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror. Darran Anderson, author of Imaginary Cities (2015), an Irish writer focused on the intersections of urbanism, culture, technology and politics (virtual talk). David Rubin — founding principal of Land Collective based in Philadelphia and Indianapolis — is a recipient of the Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture. His “empathy-driven design” approach addresses issues of social justice in cities with excellence in the design of many notable public spaces worldwide. Also: Indiana writers Susan Neville, Adrian Matejka, and Matthew Graham (current poet laureate); Indiana artists and arts leaders from New Harmony, Columbus, Bloomington, and Indianapolis; leading architects, planners, and designers; and utopian/communal studies scholars.



  • To gain a deep understanding — via history, literature, philosophy and design — of the relationship between the built environment and social good.
  • To connect with others interested in imagining and striving for better communities.
  • To experience the extraordinary atmosphere, public art, and architecture of New Harmony — nestled along the Wabash River—steeped in contemporary art and a historic utopian spirit.
  • To savor the spring weather of southern Indiana.


Located at the southwest tip of Indiana near Evansville on land originally occupied by the Mississippian culture, New Harmony is approximately 2.5 hours drive from Indianapolis, and just over two hours from St. Louis and Louisville. Conference goers receive a special $89/night rate at the New Harmony Inn Resort & Conference Center. Call (812) 682-4431 to book and mention “Social Alchemy