Blog Archives

Meandering Multiplicity: Envisioning a Twenty-First-Century Creative Campus

Steven J. Tepper

In a recent article in the New Yorker magazine pianist Jeremy Denk recounts a summer at music camp at Mount Holyoke College, where he was struggling to learn a particularly difficult segment of Charles Ives’s demanding Piano Trio. His breakthrough came when he and friends drove a few miles off campus to the Connecticut River.

Read the article ›


Students Learn Skills to Help Them Shape the Future

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth’s Remarks to Class of 2015 Families on Arrival Day 2011 – Students learn skills to help them shape the future:

Wesleyan President Michael S. Roth’s Remarks to Class of 2015 Families on Arrival Day 2011 – Students learn skills to help them shape the future

Students develop a range of capacities to create new opportunities and products:

Students develop a range of capacities to create new opportunities and products

Excerpts of Wesleyan President Michael Roth’s Speech to Wesleyan family members on Arrival Day 2012 – What Wesleyan offers is a pragmatic liberal arts education:

Excerpts of Wesleyan President Michael Roth’s Speech to Wesleyan family members on Arrival Day 2012 – What Wesleyan offers is a pragmatic liberal arts education

We want to educate the whole person:

We want to educate the whole person


What is Interdisciplinarity, and Why is the Artistic Lens so Important?

Placing the Arts at the Heart of the Creative Campus, a paper by Alan S. Brown and Steven J. Tepper, Ph.D, takes stock of the Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program, a six-year, $3.5 million grant initiative administered by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, the national service organization for performing arts presenters, with funding support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The overall goal of the program was to support exemplary campus-based performing arts presenters in developing programs and strategies beyond conventional practice that integrate their work across the academy, with the ultimate goal of elevating the role of the arts in academic life.

Within the academy, there is a growing awareness of the need to rethink our approach to knowledge and creativity. Many believe that academic and intellectual silos are simply not up to the task of meeting and addressing the pressing economic, social, and scientific challenges we face. The creativity and innovation necessary to solve non-routine problems requires interdisciplinarity. Moreover, new technologies drive opportunities for exchange across disciplines that were not possible in the past. And, student learning and engagement thrive when teaching is organized around student interests and real world problems rather than narrow disciplinary perspectives.

Read the section about interdisciplinarity ›


The Caduceus Rod approach – Using Art as a Catalyst to Integrate Art & Science – an example from Wesleyan University

Involving intense interdisciplinary collaboration around a common objective or theme.

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.

Feet to the Fire is a major undertaking on Wesleyan’s campus to examine critical environmental issues through multiple lenses, from science to art.

Learn more about the Feet to the Fire program ›


Lessons Learned: California State University, Long Beach (CSULB)

Organizers of the project report – The name, The B-Word Project, worked. It begged the follow-up question, “What is that?” and later, became easy shorthand for those events. Students on campus have been overheard saying, “That’s a B-Word thing.” The name sounded edgy and seemed to resonate with CSULB students.

As a mechanism to make the campus aware of the Carpenter Center, the B-Word Project’s colorful, provocative banners placed throughout campus worked. On such a large campus, to be able to mention the B-Word Project anywhere and have everyone nod their heads in recognition is an almost un-heard-of feat. Of course, every sword has two edges. Some of our Steering Committee faculty members heard complaints from their department colleagues about “your” banners being inappropriate or too provocative. This was one of the first signs that we were doing something right with our censorship initiative!

Find out what worked and didn’t work in the B-Word Project at California State University, Long Beach ›


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 ›


Lessons Learned: Montclair State University

The primary partnership with the Research Academy for University Learning (RAUL) was extremely important in terms of curricular and pedagogical expertise and for shepherding development of the structure of the course during the development process.

  • Having a high-level partner in a Vice Provost and Director of RAUL helped gain the attention and support of upper-level administration, increasing the prestige of the project and raising awareness across campus.
  •  High-level administrative support is essential, especially when a project involves navigating curricular procedures and allocating faculty teaching time. Support by the Provost’s Office in particular not only helped to expedite the administrative steps but also reinforced the validity of the project to the campus community

Explore the complete list of lessons learned at Montclair State University ›


Lessons Learned: Wesleyan University

Summary report on Creative Campus website highlighting project administration, pedagogical models and artist integration into teaching.

Summary report on Creative Campus website highlighting project administration, pedagogical models and artist integration into teaching.

Wesleyan Creative Campus Initiative overview:
Wesleyan Creative Campus Initiative Overview

Read the lessons learned at Wesleyan ›


The Changing Role of Artists

The 14 Creative Campus grantees used artists to explore and engage a wide variety of topics, themes and constituencies. Artists co-designed and co-taught courses with faculty members from other disciplines. They set new work on student ensembles. They collaborated with faculty artists. They received feedback on work-in-progress from students. During sustained residencies of up to several years in length, they visited campuses repeatedly, often staying for a week or longer, researching, teaching, creating, performing and interacting with all sorts of constituents.

Read more about the changing role of artists in the Creative Campus White Paper ›


Artistic Collaboration at Wesleyan

Rinde Eckert, a celebrated playwright, was in residency at Wesleyan as part of the Creative Campus Initiative in conjunction with the Theater Department. Eckert researched with Wesleyan faculty members Kari Weil and John Kirn as he developed a new play that was performed by Wesleyan students in 2012.

Rinde Eckert, Chief of Neuroscience, John Kim, and Kari Weil, Director of the College of Letters, describe how working together created bridges between art and science:

Rinde Eckert, Chief of Neuroscience, John Kim, and Kari Weil, Director of the College of Letter, describe how working together created bridges between art and science.

Explore the list of Wesleyan partners and collaborators ›