PanARMENIAN.Net - Innovate Armenia, the festival of ideas and innovation, took place at the University of Southern California on May 18. Organized by the USC Institute of Armenian Studies, the program featured fifty participants from six countries, and nearly 4,000 attendees. This is the fourth time in five years that this unique event has been staged by the Institute.
"Innovate Armenia is an inclusive, fun, provocative platform that tackles the greatest challenge of any homeland-diaspora relationship: how to better understand each other. Following the critical, radical changes in Armenia's politics last year, a discussion of policy remains crucially needed both in Armenia and in the Diaspora. This was a part of that discussion. The rest-music, beer, coffee, storytelling, chess-that's all an authentic, but light, reminder of who we are and who we can be," said Salpi Ghazarian, director of the Institute.
The day-long festival had multiple intersecting parts.
In the morning, scholars inside the USC Bovard Auditorium delved into topics of identity and memory. George Aghjayan's "Genealogy as Identity," Heghnar Watenpaugh's "The Tangible Past," Mehmet Fatih Uslu's "Identity: It's Complicated," Matthew Karanian's "Landscapes of Memory," and Avedis Hadjian's "How to Forget," all explored identity as a changing and shifting force, and memory in regards to cultural heritage, genocide, and land.
At noon, Element Band, in collaboration with the Institute, presented a different type of musical performance, entitled "SOUND STORIES: The Songs You Know, with the Stories You Don't Know."
Following the musical production, government officials from Armenia, policymakers, and scholars from around the world tackled the most urgent issues facing the Armenian nation.
Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed the standing-room only audience by Skype.
Secretary of Armenia's Security Council Armen Grigoryan, Deputy Foreign Minister of Karabakh Armine Aleksanyan, Former Prime Minister Vache Gabrielyan, Deputy Minister of Nature Protection Irina Ghaplanyan, Deputy Minister of Education Arevik Anapiosyan, Minister of Healthcare Arsen Torosyan spoke about security, policy, statehood, the environment, and the economy.