Blog Archives

High-impact centrality — Using the arts to provoke civic dialogue at California State University, Long Beach

Focusing arts-based programming on a common theme coordinated by a central entity with activities unfolding across campus with diverse partners

The B-Word Project is a major interdisciplinary collaboration led by the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at Cal State. The topic was selected for its potential to integrate curricula and events in a meaningful way, enrich the university’s scholarship and service activities through the thoughtful introduction of relevant guest speakers/artists, and position the theater as an active participant in academic programs.

Learn more about the B-Word Project ›


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 ›


Provoking Thought, Discussion and Research – an example from California State University, Long Beach

Banned, Blacklisted and Boycotted: Censorship and the Response to It (The B-Word Project) was an 18-month campus-wide initiative, running from September 2011 through December 2012, at California State University, Long Beach. It presented performances and other activities to stimulate wide-ranging discussions that examine what happens when a voice—whether in artistic endeavors, journalism, scientific research or other areas—is stifled through governmental, commercial, or social restraints. The goal of the project is to provoke thought, discussion and research into the effects of censorship across all disciplines at Cal State Long Beach.

Learn more about the The B-Word Project ›


Tapping Into Community Needs – Class Divide, an example from Dartmouth University

Class Divide

Dartmouth University’s Hopkins Center’s three-year Class Divide project was conceived as a cross-campus / community programming initiative intended to raise awareness and spark discussion about socio-economic difference in communities throughout the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont. Through a series of events, performances and residencies, the Hop aimed to both heighten their campus and community visibility, and to deepen their role in the higher education community at Dartmouth College. The Class Divide project began one-year prior to receipt of two-years of funding from the Creative Campus Innovations grant program.

Margaret Lawrence, Director of Programming, director Peter Sellars, faculty and students reflect on the Class Divide program:

Margaret Lawrence, Director of Programming, director Peter Sellars, faculty and students reflect on the Class Divide program.

Class discussion and analysis of educational impact:

Class discussion and analysis of educational impact.

Learn more about the program at Dartmouth College ›


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 ›


Curators for the 21st Century and a Call to Action

As arts groups look more deeply into their communities for legitimacy and creative material, they will require artistic leaders (i.e., curators) with different skill sets. Curators will be called upon not only to select and organize arts programs, but to diagnose need in their communities, seek out new and unusual settings for their work, forge partnerships with a wide array of disparate stakeholders, and, in some cases, cede a certain amount of artistic control in order to gain broader impact.

Learn more about the changing role and opportunities for on-campus presenters ›

The need for arts-based interdisciplinary thinking is not just an academic mandate. Shifting patterns of cultural tastes are deconstructing long-held definitions of art forms. As culture becomes more and more of a mash-up of genres and forms, the public has become more interested in artistic work that crosses boundaries (e.g., Cirque do Soleil). This is a wonderful but scary opportunity for arts groups, especially multi-disciplinary presenters, who must now consider breaking free of organizational and disciplinary silos and grow more comfortable programming cross-genre and inter-disciplinary work.

Read more about the importance of the Creative Campus in elevating the role of the arts in academia ›