Events in UCIS

Thursday, October 25 until Wednesday, May 1

8:30 am Exhibit
Travelers Along the Silk Roads: 10th Century to the Present
Ground and Second Floors, Hillman Library
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies along with Year of PittGlobal and Hillman Library
See Details

Free and Open to the Public during Hillman Library Hours

The term Silk Road, coined by 19th century German explorer Ferdinand von Richthofen, refers to a loose network of overland trade routes stretching from the Mediterranean to East Asia. Textiles, gems, spices, animals and even religions were all exchanged along this vast expanse, starting around 1,000 B.C. and continuing for millennia. For much of this time, most Silk Road traders coming from western Eurasia were Muslim, and they brought their beliefs and rich culture to millions of people.

A Crossroads of Ideas

While the Silk Road was a two-way route, most of its movement was eastward, carrying Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, and later, Islam.

By the 8th century, Muslims stopped thinking of religion geographically and began seeking converts along the Silk Road. The benefits of conversion to such a widespread religion were many, as Muslims preferred trading with other Muslims.

Islamic scientific and medical advancements also had significant impact on Silk Road travelers. Chinese Buddhist traders adopted Islamic medical knowledge in wound healing and urinalysis. Muslims brought India their insights on astronomy, including a skepticism of the geocentric universe.

Cultural Exchange Along the Route

Influences from Buddhist China and other regions also affected radical changes in Islam. In the 12th century, abstract Islamic art suddenly started depicting human figures, long considered forbidden in Islam. Murals showing Buddhist statues and Indian narrative artwork started appearing in mosques, and Islamic art exploded with new techniques and figures. Chinese technologies, such as paper production and gunpowder, were transmitted to the West. Iran’s art in the Mongol period (13th and 14th centuries) is dramatically influenced by Chinese artistic traditions.

The Exhibit Design

The ground floor cases in Hillman Library feature a map of the Silk Road from its Eastern terminus in the Chinese city of Xian to its western terminus in Constantinople. They also display the late-14th century Catalan Atlas, the most detailed world map of its time, showing key places along and major figures who traveled the overland route of the Silk Road. The exhibit continues on the second floor of Hillman Library in five thematic display cases:

*Horses and Dynasties: Cartography and Painting in China, 10th-14th Centuries,
*Alexander the Great, Kublai Khan, and Marco Polo: Confluences of Power and Exchange in Assia,
*Musical Encounters in the Deserts and Mountains of Central Asia,
*Explorations in Turkestan: Aurel Stein and Bamiyan, and
*New World Exploitation and the China Trade with Europe.

Thursday, January 31

4:30 pm Reading Group
Global Issues Through Literature: The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963
4130 Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center
See Details

The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
This reading group for educators explores literary texts from a global perspective. Content specialists present the work and its context, and together we brainstorm innovative pedagogical practices for incorporating the text and its themes into the curriculum. Sessions usually take place in 4130 Posvar Hall (unless otherwise noted) from 4:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Books, Act 48 credit, dinner, and parking are provided. Registration link:

6:00 pm Information Session
Pitt Global Hub Student Focus Group Session
4400 Posvar Hall
Sponsored by:
Director's Office and European Studies Center
See Details

Pitt’s Global Hub, currently under construction on the first floor of Posvar Hall, will be a dynamic new space showcasing International Studies related opportunities across campus. Equal parts event space, information center and student lounge, this attractive multi-use facility will serve as a convening point that helps students connect with globally focused faculty, student groups and academic programs. Key to the space will be a number of large and interactive digital screens that will share world news, info about campus events, and allow students to ask questions and gather info and referrals about programs and resources on campus. On January 31st at 6:00 p.m., the developer of these screens will be meeting with students to brainstorm about how they may function, and get feedback on the best ways to make them intuitive, informative and fun.

We hope that you will join us to share your comments and ideas. Pizza and food will be provided. Please rsvp to Steve Lund at

7:00 pm Performance
Música y Poesía del Conflicto Colombiano
Alphabet City - 40 W North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Sponsored by:
Center for Latin American Studies along with City of Asylum, Alia Musica Pittsburgh and Colombia en Pittsburgh
See Details

January 31, 2019

Música y Poesía del Conflicto Colombiano
Music and Poetry from the Colombian Conflict

Alphabet City  - 40 W North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
7:00 p.m.

Three chamber music and multimedia works inspired by different aspects of the 50-year long armed and social conflict, and a special appearance by Colombian poet Piedad Bonnet. 

Federico Garcia-De Castro: Memoria
Nicolás Aguía: La Bonanza del Olvido
Johan Hasler / Piedad Bonnet: La Cicatriz en el Espejo
with Gizelxanath Rodriguez, soprano

Free & open to the public!
Event conducted in Spanish with English translations

For more on Alia Musica:
For more on City of Asylum:
For more on Colombia En Pittsburgh:
For more on the Center for Latin American Studies: