Blog Archives

Creative Thinking Project 2010-2012 at Montclair State University

The Creative Thinking Project with Montclair State University’s presenter, Peak Performances, focuses on innovative artists committed to transcending traditional boundaries between art forms and between the arts and other disciplines. The project integrated the creative approaches of visiting artists into the intellectual and cultural environment of the campus via the development of a new course designed to help students in all academic areas harness their creative abilities.

Montclair State University Creative Thinking Project 2010-2012 video summary:

Montclair State University Creative Thinking Project 2010-2012 video summary

Read the project summary ›


Conscious Connections

Nancy Cantor

Nancy Cantor

Keynote address by Nancy Cantor, former Chancellor, Syracuse University

Today as we explore the many ways to imagine, create, and sustain two-way connections between artists and their audiences and broader communities, including universities, it’s important to underscore the transformative nature of these connections, especially when they are embraced deliberately, as this year’s conference theme of conscious connections suggests.

Read the keynote address ›


Creative Thinking – an example from Montclair State University

The Creative Thinking project at Montclair State University integrates the creative approaches of visiting artists into the intellectual and cultural environment of the campus via the development of a new course designed to help students in all academic areas harness their creative abilities.

Thoughts on the Montclair State University creative thinking course CRTH-151 with an administrator, a student, a mathematics professor, and an artist/systems designer:

Thoughts on the Montclair State University creative thinking course CRTH-151 with an administrator, a student, a mathematics professor, and an artist/systems designer

Playwright and director Robert Wilson talks about how a chance encounter with a deaf boy helped him create his first play and understand “how to hear:”

Playwright and director Robert Wilson talks about how a chance encounter with a deaf boy helped him create his first play and understand “how to hear.”

Read more about the Creative Thinking project ›


Engaging Campus Partners – an example from Montclair State University

The core campus partners at Montclair State University were the Office of Arts and Cultural Programming (ACP) and the Research Academy for University Learning (RAUL). Under the banner Peak Performances, ACP provides a place for innovative artists to create and present works across multiple disciplines. Artists include established and up-and-coming creators on a national and international level, as well as members from the College of the Arts. ACP’s role in the project was to identify and support the artists collaborating on the project, to spearhead project-related marketing and communications, and to provide administrative and documentation support during course development.

Read about the partners and process lessons ›


Reviewing Three Interdisciplinary Approaches

In the 2010 evaluation report of the Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, Alan Brown, Laura Mandeles and Jennifer Novak-Leonard indicate that the Creative Campus grants succeeded in stimulating the development of new models for arts-based interdisciplinary exchange initiated by campus-based presenters. While some of the models studied build on conventional practice (e.g. artist residencies), they are distinguished by their interdisciplinary nature and by the approaches used to conceive them. They observed three primary approaches:

  • Artist Focus
  • Thematic/Topical Focus
  • Stakeholder or Partner Focus

Read the summary of findings ›


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.


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 ›


Adding Community Engagement Programs

Several projects were conceived out of a desire to serve a specific population or stakeholder group, or a desire to work with a specific academic department. In most cases, this approach was amalgamated using an artist focus.

Read more about programmatic components ›

California State University, Long Beach, created a community engagement project called PROject/proJECT with videos done by high school students as part of a partnership with the YMCA Youth Institute.

What It’s Like by Barrier Breakers:

What It’s Like by Barrier Breakers.

What They Don’t Want Us to Know by Censor This:

What They Don’t Want Us to Know by Censor This.

See Hear Speak by Liberation Transmission:

See Hear Speak by Liberation Transmission.

Power of Words by Vyrus:

Power of Words by Vyrus.

Silence by Taboo:

Silence by Taboo.

Learn more about the PROject/proJECT ›

Wesleyan’s Feet to the Fire Program

Feet to the Fire is a major undertaking on Wesleyan’s campus to examine critical environmental issues through multiple lenses, from science to art. This program is dedicated to the proposition that a multidisciplinary examination that includes art will provide a more comprehensive and deeper understanding of these global issues.

Co-taught after school programs (at off-campus middle school):

Co-taught after school programs (at off-campus middle school).

Each year, Feet to the Fire presents programming that provides opportunities to engage with the arts and the environment simultaneously. Events and exhibitions often take the form of one-time performances by visiting artists, festivals, or gallery exhibitions. It is an occasion for the CFA to present artists whose work connects with the annual Feet to the Fire theme. It also allows for the campus and surrounding community at-large to engage with the work of the artist and environmental topics.

Read more about the Center for the Arts’ community events ›

Music and Public Life: A Year-Long Campus and Community-Wide Exploration

Today, the private and public worlds of music often overlap and intersect in virtual networks, community musicking, and public policy. During the 2012–2013 academic year, Wesleyan University is celebrating and studying the sounds, words, and spirit of music in public at the local, national, and transnational levels through concerts, workshops, gatherings, and courses, all designed to cross disciplines and engage the campus and Greater Middletown communities.

Learn more about the Music and Public Life project ›


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 ›


Lessons Learned: Dartmouth

The Hop at Dartmouth learned how to be more explicit with communication strategies, both with the visiting artists and with their public messaging about the initiative. During the Hop’s mid-point assessment, partners encouraged them to be bolder about the programmatic connections within Class Divide. Once the Hop explained their rationale behind the involvement of certain artists and guests, it became clearer to participants that there was intentionality behind all facets of the project. It was noted that the Class Divide logo was an important signifier for many partners as well.

Faculty meeting/discussion of central hub role of Dartmouth’s presenter and summary of working with multiple faculty/community partners to increase impact:

Faculty meeting/discussion of central hub role of Dartmouth’s presenter and summary of working with multiple faculty/community partners to increase impact.

Find out more about the lessons learned at Dartmouth ›