During our 2011-2012 planning year, Arts Across the Curriculum (AAC) leaders have been seeking perspectives on transforming a pilot arts initiative into a full-fledged, cross-disciplinary program at Hunter College.
To that end, we held a special AAC Summit April 25-26, 2012, featuring guests who work for successful cross-disciplinary arts programs at their colleges and universities. We also invited representatives from New York cultural institutions that have special partnerships with Hunter as well as faculty and students who are already engaged in integrating the arts in creative ways on campus.
Read below to see what we learned at the AAC Summit and download podcasts of the presentations and discussions. For a full summit schedule, please click here.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Welcome from the Provost
Provost Vita C. Rabinowitz welcomed speakers and guests to the AAC Summit.
"Arts Across the Curriculum has been a joy and a success," Rabinowitz told a crowd of about 50 faculty from academic departments ranging from Chemistry to Theatre. "Our goals were to create an infrastructure, to create interest, to create incentives for interdiscipinary collaborations involving the arts."
The Aesthetics of Mathematics and Art
Professor William Kronholm and Distinguished Artist in Residence Aaron Bocanegra discussed 'The Aesthetics of Mathematics and Art,' the basis for a course they co-teach at Whittier College called "Math/Art: Collaborative Practices." Using a PowerPoint and video, the two described how they merged mathematical and artistic sensibilities in a single classroom.
They stressed the importance of laying out goals and operating principles before beginning an interdisciplinary course. For example, the pair crafted a "motivating axiom" for cross-curricular instruction, which included an expectation that each discipline taught would be meaningfully enriched as a result of the collaboration.
Students from a variety of academic departments - ranging from Theater to Chemistry - enrolled in the course, which required them to use a computerized sensor network to create an open-ended art project. Many students had little to no experience in either art or computer networking yet found innovative methods for using the materials and concepts.
Developing Creativity on Campus
Dan Mills, Director of the Bates College Museum of Art, and Elizabeth Long Lingo, Director of Vanderbilt University's Creative Campus Initiative and the Curb Programs in Creative Enterprise and Public Leadership, shared their strategies for promoting creative thinking on a college campus.
Mills discussed Bates's Learning Associates Program, which was originally funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and has been sustained by an endowment from The Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation. The program offers financial support for inviting distinguished scholars, experts, and artists to campus to engage with students in at least two academic departments. About 20 learning associates visit Bates each year, giving lectures, hosting classroom discussions, presenting their own creative projects, and offering critiques of student work.
Long Lingo introduced Vanderbilt's Creative Campus Initiative, which finished its inaugural year during the Spring 2012 semester. The initiative stemmed from an interest among Vanderbilt leadership in broadening the creative capacity of students at a time when employers say they are seeing a lack of right-brain thinking among younger workers. Some of the keystones of the Creative Campus Initiative include a scholars program for freshmen, support of "non-routine" public programs aimed at boosting creativity on campus, and Innovation Grants to faculty interested in bringing various interdisciplinary activities on campus.
Questions and Answers
AAC Faculty Committee Chair Rebecca Connor led a question-and-answer session with the four guests, during which faculty from a range of academic departments inquired about strategies for cross-curricular instruction at Hunter.
Adaptation and Translation: New Student Plays Across the Disciplines
Theatre Professor Jonathan Kalb moderated a discussion about translation and adaptation with MFA candidates Johnna Adams and Holly Hepp-Galvan and Hunter faculty, including Evelyne Ender (Romance Languages), Lisa Marie Anderson (German), and Mark Bly (Theatre).
Adams and Hepp-Galvan wrote original plays that deal differently with the concept of translation. Adams's Alcestis in Baghdad was inspired by themes of female sacrifice and faith in Euripides's Alcestis. Hepp-Galvan's play deals with language itself, exploring endangered tongues and the cultures responsible for keeping them alive.
Both plays were staged during the 2012 Hunter Playwrights Festival, and Summit guests were encouraged to attend the evening performance.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Bocanegra and Kronholm demonstrated the techniques they use to co-teach "Math/Art: Collaborative Practices," which they discussed during their presentation on April 25.
During the workshop, students experimented with the open-source sensor networks that their students used to create interactive art projects.
AAC Project Director Dara Meyers-Kingsley introduced representatives from four of Hunter's cultural partners by emphasizing how perfectly positioned Hunter is to cross disciplinary boundaries at this point in the school's history.
With a President and Provost who have championed and built strong arts programs, distinguished faculty who embrace the arts through so many disciplines, and committed cultural partners who are helping the college expand its campus into the city, Hunter stands ready to become a model in cross-curricular arts education.
Representatives from The Asia Society and Museum, The Rubin Museum of Art, The Society of Illustrators, and the Theatre Development Fund gave presentations describing the missions of their organizations and the special benefits they offer to Hunter students and faculty, including free or discounted ticketing, assistance with curricular development, internships, and faculty fellowships.