5. What Types of Interdisciplinary Collaborative Approaches Build Creative “Muscle” and Produce the Best Results?

Partnerships are Key to Successful Collaboration

In some respects, the Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program could be viewed as a study in partnerships: partnerships with artists, partnerships with faculty and academic departments, partnerships with student organizations, and partnerships with community organizations. Strong partnerships yielded strong and sustainable outcomes. Thus, grantees with strong process design and project management approaches (e.g., active task forces and committee structures) tended to outperform those with weaker approaches in terms of the grant program’s goals. The capacity to assess progress, reflect critically and diagnose problems was also associated with stronger outcomes.

Cross Team Planning – an example from Montclair State University

Thoughts on the creative thinking course CRTH-151 at Montclair State University that involved faculty from Computer Science, Mathematics, Philosophy & Religion, Theatre & Dance, Music Education, Sciences/Physics and Marketing:

Thoughts on the creative thinking course CRTH-151 at Montclair State University that involved faculty from Computer Science, Mathematics, Philosophy & Religion, Theatre & Dance, Music Education, Sciences/Physics and Marketing.

Read about the key outcomes of the Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program ›

Pairing Visiting Artists with Non-Arts Faculty – three examples from Wesleyan, Cal State and Montclair State

This strategy builds relationships and pedagogical practices that extend across disciplinary lines. At Wesleyan, co-taught courses coupled a dancer/choreographer with an environmental scientist who developed a curriculum that engaged students in the subject of climate change through scientific and artistic lenses. While engaging faculty artists proved to be relatively straightforward, engaging non-arts faculty proved more difficult. At some campuses, non-arts faculty could not be engaged in the project – not because of political or philosophical problems – but because of the advance planning requirements associated with modifying curriculum.

Partnerships at Wesleyan:

When the sequencing of the human genome was announced to the public, choreographer Liz Lerman of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange was one of many who asked what this would mean for the future. To help answer these questions, she developed Ferocious Beauty: Genome, a multimedia piece that explores the current historic moment of revelation and questioning in genetic research. The subject is represented through a plurality of viewpoints, mirroring a dialogue among multiple voices — artistic, scientific, and scholarly — in all their varied perspectives.

Wesleyan Science Choreography

She began collaborating with scientists across the country who investigate genes and their function. Wesleyan University began to work with Lerman in science classrooms using various movement-based tools developed by the Dance Exchange both to teach science and to encourage our students to think creatively about science – an exploration that has been met with great success.

Pam Tatge continues to describe various effective collaborations/pairings of environmental scientists, choreographers and others during the 18 month project:

Pam Tatge continues to describe various effective collaborations/pairings of environmental scientists, choreographers and others during the 18 month project.

Read more about Wesleyan’s Science Choreography ›

Read more about this and other successful program strategies ›

Introduction of co-taught visiting artist series at California State University, Long Beach:

Introduction of co-taught visiting artist series at California State University, Long Beach.

Browse the list of partners at Long Beach ›

Voices of campus partners at Montclair State University:

Wayne McGregor, choreographer, Random Dance Workshop:

Wayne McGregor, choreographer, Random Dance Workshop.

Robert Whitman, playwright, Passport Workshop:

Robert Whitman, playwright, Passport Workshop.

Robert Wilson, director, with Wayne McGregor:

Robert Wilson, director, with Wayne McGregor.

Scott DeLahunta, R-Research Director, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance discussing the “task” of the work:

Scott DeLahunta, R-Research Director, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance discussing the “task” of the work.

Elizabeth Streb, choreographer:

Elizabeth Streb, choreographer.

Michael Gordon, composer:

Michael Gordon, composer.

Read the full description of all Montclair State University artist partnerships ›

Get an overview of the artistic partnerships in the project’s final report ›

Integrating Creative Campus Elements Into Existing Campus-Wide Teaching Initiatives

Wesleyan integrates Creative Campus elements into existing campus-wide teaching initiatives and ongoing pedagogical exchange:

Wesleyan integrates Creative Campus elements into existing campus-wide teaching initiatives and ongoing pedagogical exchange.

Example of a co-taught course and co-created curriculum modules:

Example of a co-taught course and co-created curriculum modules.

Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts has developed two models for pedagogical collaboration between artists and non-artists. A course module is defined as two to four class sessions within an existing course in which the host of the course co-creates the module with an artist (or if the host is an artist, he/she co-creates the curriculum with a non-artist). Modules provide a way for campus presenters to move beyond the typical workshop or master class conducted by visiting artists and introduce artists into the classroom in a structured way.

Explore sample teaching module descriptions ›