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.

Friday, March 29 until Saturday, April 13

7:00 pm Film
Italian Film Festival of Pittsburgh
Frick Fine Arts Auditorium
Announced by:
European Studies Center on behalf of

Monday, April 8

12:00 pm Lecture
Welcome to the Anthropocene
4130 Posvar
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center along with Pitt Arts
See Details

Christa Sadler, field producer and author of The Colorado, will discuss her role as a production manager and author of the accompanying book for the film. She will also discuss humans’ dominant influence on our environment and climate. This discussion will be a one hour workshop/ lecture and a Q & A session about her work.

3:00 pm Lecture
What is Neoliberalism with GSC Post Doc Kat Frances
4130 Posvar
Sponsored by:
Global Studies Center
See Details

Kat Frances discussed NeoLiberalism through her research on feminist discourse in modern urban South Asia.

3:30 pm Information Session
Founding a Startup as an Immigrant
O'Hara Student Center, Dining Room
Announced by:
Director's Office on behalf of the Year of Pitt Global
See Details

Nitin Pachisia is an entrepreneur-turned-investor and recently featured in Forbes for his work with Unshackled Ventures, but prior to this he experienced the myths and misinformation that many immigrant entrepreneurs face when forming a startup.

Join us for a discussion with Nitin as he shares his own experience founding startups while on a visa and how immigrant entrepreneurs can find the right information on how to start their next venture. Are you an aspiring entrepreneur without U.S. citizenship? Do you want to stay in the U.S. to and start your own business but have questions on how to do it? Do you want to better understand the venture resources available for immigrant entrepreneurs?

On Monday, April 8, the Innovation Institute will be hosting a fireside style session with Unshackled Ventures founding partner, Nitin Pachisia. Unshackled Ventures is a Silicon Valley based pre-seed fund focused on immigrant founders and international students. RSVP Here.

For students: Work as a part of the Unshackled team during the school year. Learn more here.


Unshackled Ventures was started in 2014 with a single mission: help immigrant founders succeed faster.

6:15 pm Workshop
Russian Conversation Table
Hillman Library, Room 201D
Sponsored by:
Center for Russian East European and Eurasian Studies along with Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures
See Details

Come to 201D Hillman and have an informal conversation in Russian with other Russian program students and the facilitator, Katya Kovaleva.

7:00 pm Cultural Event/Presentation/Reading Group
EU Prize for Literature Book Reading with David Machado
Carnegie Library South Wing Reading Room
Sponsored by:
European Studies Center along with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
See Details

Almodovar is in prison, Daniel is living in a van, and Xavier hasn't left the house is years.

David Machado's award-winning novel, The Shelf Life of Happiness, follows the story of three adult friends as they navigate and deteriorate under the stresses of Portugal's financial crisis of 2008. The novel won the EU Prize for Literature in 2019.

The ESC, in partnership with UNC Center for European Studies and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is delighted to present a reading from The Shelf Life of Happiness with David Machado.

This event is free and open to all. Join us to hear some award-winning writing and a brief talk from the author. A Q&A will follow.