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By Amanda Beattie April 5, 2023

“What if” Class Activity

Inspired by Randall Munroe’s 2014 NYTimes #1 Bestseller, What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” and the board game Balderdash, which involves combining true and fictional definitions to real but rather unusual words:

I asked each student in two of my Art History classes (Art History 2 with Visual Arts students, and Renaissance to Modern Art with ALC students) to write down a “What if” question related to class material. The question could be as specific or vague as they liked. 

The students then exchanged questions at random, and provided answers.

The students were told that absurd and serious questions were both welcome, and may result in absurd or serious answers!

Once the questions and answers were completed, the students shared the results, and engaged in conversation and debate.

Some of the results were quite profound and thought-provoking, while others were more whimsical and entertaining. Enjoy reading them, and think of some “What If” questions of your own!

A version of this activity will be offered at the SPACE Showcase during SPACE week, May 1st to May 5th. Come and see us in 3C.1 to participate!

About the author

Amanda Beattie teaches Art History at Dawson College and is Assistant Chairperson of the Fine Arts Department. She also writes for exhibition catalogues and art magazines. 

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