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Written by Taylor Swaak, The Diamondback

Photo Courtesy of The Diamondback

Bergis Jules and Ed Summers developed a vision to efficiently amass millions of tweets and make them more accessible to the public after the social media explosion that followed Michael Brown's death in August 2014.

"The images and the videos were so powerful," said Jules, university and political papers archivist at the University of California, Riverside. "That got me thinking that there's something going on here, and we need to try and capture this as best as we can."

A year and a half later, The University of Maryland's Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities — in collaboration with UC Riverside and Washington University in St. Louis — announced Jan. 20 a $517,000 two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the "Documenting the Now: Supporting Scholarly Use and Preservation of Social Media Content" project.

Read more here

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – A $225,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities awarded to the College of Arts and Humanities at University of Maryland (UMD) and the Maryland Humanities Council will fund a series of public programs that are designed to explore the way citizens of Baltimore are thinking about the narratives that influence the life and identity of the city. Major partners will include the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Dresher Center for the Humanities, the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance

The initiative, Baltimore Stories: Narratives and the Life of an American City (Baltimore Stories), seeks to establish a model that utilizes humanities scholarship— literature, history, philosophy, communication, art and cultural studies—to produce print and digital materials that help frame and contextualize narratives of race in American cities. The project will also shine a spotlight on the ongoing, collaborative work being done in Baltimore neighborhoods by universities and non-profit organizations. 

“During the uprising, Baltimore residents had lively conversations about the stories that shape our perceptions of each other,” said Sheri Parks, co-project director of the initiative and associate dean for research and interdisciplinary programming in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland. “We are elated to use this grant as a platform to continue these conversations.”

 The NEH announced yesterday $21.8 million in grants, including $3.6 million devoted to new “Humanities in the Public Square” grants that support community discussions on the relevance of the humanities to civic life.  

“We are honored to answer the call that NEH Chairman Adams issued earlier this year to use the humanities to ‘take up the grand challenges of our time,’” said Phoebe Stein, co-project director of the initiative and executive director of the Maryland Humanities Council. “The equity that needs to be created here in Baltimore, and across much of the nation, can begin with the humanities as they give us contexts for understanding and addressing this inequity and the narratives that undergird it. The humanities facilitate the conversations that can ultimately contribute to solutions.”

The idea for Baltimore Stories was born from UMD’s third annual Baltimore ThinkAThon, which was held April 30, 2015 in the midst of the Baltimore protests. Over 100 participants from the state’s major cultural institutions gathered to demonstrate the efficacy of humanities-based ideas and methods in the real world.  Many proposed projects centered on the way stories shaped the understanding of the protests, and narrative emerged as a central concern.

“Narrative or the collectives of stories we tell ourselves and each other is also a major focus of the humanities, so we hope to help citizens investigate and contextualize the past, present and future to uncover truths and move communities toward reconciliation,” said Parks.

ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
The University of Maryland is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 49 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars. The institution has a $1.8 billion operating budget, secures $500 million annually in external research funding and recently completed a $1 billion fundraising campaign. For more information, visit www.umd.edu.

ABOUT THE MARYLAND HUMANITIES COUNCIL
The Maryland Humanities Council is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities. For more information, visit www.mdhc.org. The Maryland Humanities Council is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Maryland, and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, creator of the Baker Artist Awards.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES  
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

The following faculty have been selected as 2015-16 Foxworth Faculty. The grant will allow faculty to create and implement courses that utilize the arts and humanities to help contextualize and present pressing societal issues.

This initiative is made possible by the generosity of two college alumni, Domonique and Ashley Foxworth. Domonique, Class of 2004, is a graduate of American Studies and Ashley, ’06, is an English alumna. The Foxworth Initiative is intended to support learning that brings students in contact with their surrounding communities as partners and allies in practices that help transform and bring about social justice. Courses supported by the initiative provide students with skills and critical thinking that support continued community engagement beyond their college career. For more information, visit www.arhu.umd.edu/foxworth.

FOXWORTH FACULTY COHORT:

Faculty Lead: Karen Bradley, School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Course: Essence, Identity, and Empowerment through the Arts: A Project for High Point High School

Social Issues: Adolescent identity, at risk youth

Approach: This course will focus on arts practices that develop habits of mind, heart and body/spirit in 14-25-year-olds. The primary purpose of this course is to train future arts educators for challenged students. These educators will learn to help students at risk of violence and anomie find voice and identity, and develop community through arts practices. UMD students will develop these skills in themselves and apply them to high school students at High Point High School. UMD students will design and lead arts experiences through methods, such as free drawing, acting exercises and slam poetry, while becoming advocates for arts integration in the school community.

Community Benefit: Students at High Point High School face issues of poverty, loss of community and identity, and oftentimes, trauma issues. UMD students will guide them toward access to focus, adaptability, a sense of self, self-efficacy and regulation skills, as well as organization, observation, analysis,, choice-making, predicting and communication skills via performance. In no way will every high school student achieve all of these, but they will be introduced to these concepts and experience practices that can lead to understanding and skill development. 

 

Faculty Lead: Audra Buck-Coleman, Department of Art

Courses: Advanced Graphic Design Principles: Design in Society and Three Dimensional Graphic Design

Social Issues: Adolescent identity, at-risk youth, social protest, structural racism and inequality

Approach: Over the course of two semesters, UMD senior graphic design students will collaborate with students from Augusta Fells Savage Institute of Visual Arts, a public high school in West Baltimore. Together they will leverage their creative skills to respond to the media’s negative and one-dimensional portrayal of the Baltimore students and their community during last year’s uprising. They will produce a series of creative works that promote positive, well-rounded notions of the students’ identities and the Baltimore community and that address the timeless and timely issues of structural racism, identity, unrest and self-agency as they relate to the Baltimore uprising. Their works will be exhibited at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore from April through August 2016, coinciding with the first anniversary of Freddie Gray’s death. The exhibition will include participatory elements to engage audiences and add their insights to these important conversations.

Community Benefit: Through their interactions, the high school students’ personal narratives and opinions will reshape UMD students’ understandings about identity, privilege and representation. The Baltimore students will be empowered on various levels: they will be given an opportunity and a means with which to re-write narratives about themselves and their community; they will understand how to use creative means as productive expression; they will also gain knowledge regarding artistic practices and contemporary technology with hopes that these exposures may positively affect the way in which they imagine their education or professional endeavors beyond high school.

 

Faculty Lead: Roberta Z. Lavine, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Course: Spanish for Health Professions

Social Issues: Cultural competence shortages in health professions

Approach: This course will allow students to explore the need for Spanish-English cultural and linguistic competency in health-related contexts. Students will partner with the Health Center to focus on outreach for Spanish-speaking dining services workers on campus. In class and in the outreach experience, students will examine and develop their own cultural competency by exploring identities, critically analyzing and solving problems, learning collaboratively and meaningfully interacting with members of other cultures. They will learn with and from the targeted campus community to develop strategies to advance culturally and linguistically appropriate health services on campus.

Community Benefit: The two tangible types of benefits to the clients are gaining health literacy and understanding how to maintain wellness, in culturally appropriate interactions that value and involve the workers themselves. In a respectful and participatory environment, the chances of client follow-through on health interventions are increased. UMD students will be able to explore and analyze their multiple identities and have real-world experiences working with Latino communities.

 

Faculty Lead: Jason Kuo, Department of Art History and Archaeology

Course: Aging and Creativity: Older Artists in Our Community

Social Issues: Ageism

Approach: This highly experiential and interdisciplinary course will engage students in the experience of the maturing artist through studying literature, attending guest lectures and conducting interviews and site-visits with older artists in the community. Interviews with selected artists will allow students to assist in documenting the artists’ life and art. These tasks will incorporate the disciplines of art history, gerontology and museum studies for students to ultimately shape an exhibition at the Brentwood Arts Exchange devoted to arts created by people over the age of 65. This will involve applying the research and experience from throughout the course to select the works, design the space, organize public programs and publish the exhibition catalog, brochures and wall labels.

Community Benefit: The contemporary art world focuses its attention on young emerging artists, creating difficulty for maturing artists to enter or re-enter public view. The goal of this course is to help their art become better recognized, documented, publicly exhibited and appreciated by our community. Research has demonstrated that community-based cultural programs for older adults are effective in health promotion, disease prevention and reduction in the need for long-term care. UMD students will benefit from the intergenerational interaction by gaining perspective of the ageist practices in the art world and the creative vitality that can be found in the maturing artist community.

5/12/15

BY LAUREN BROWN
PHOTO BY JOHN T. CONSOLI

This week only, the landscape of downtown College Park is a little more whimsical. And thoughtful. And connected.

Students in a new public art and design course have installed five temporary artworks on streets, in open spaces and in other nooks of the city for view May 11–16, in hopes of sparking conversations about the relationship between the university and College Park.

On Monday, passersby paused and drivers turned their heads to stare at the works, such as reflector-covered poles lining a sidewalk, a blown-up globe between a pair of park benches, and three platforms bearing chairs and tables and festooned with a canopy of colored ribbons, on a grassy area just outside City Hall.

Architecture Associate Professor Ronit Eisenbach, with sculptor and art Professor John Ruppert and urban planning Professor Gerrit Knapp, director of the National Center for Smart Growth, taught the “Making Place Work” class to a mix of art, architecture and landscape architecture students.

“We wanted them to think about spicing up College Park a bit, and raise possibilities about what could happen here,” she says.

The course is supported by UMD’s Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship andPartnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program, in which students and faculty work with local governments in Maryland to solve real community problems.

The students first explored the challenges the city and university are now confronting to make College Park’s downtown more vibrant, diverse and attractive. Then, split into teams, they explored different concepts in the city-campus relationship, such as blurring the boundaries between them or emphasizing the quiet areas or creating a place to mingle. They worked with the property owners—the university, its foundation and the city—to secure short-term use of the spaces, and raced to design and build their visions.

Architecture graduate student Prakruti Hoskere was glad to get experience in collaborating and constructing a design on a budget, and has enjoyed watching people interact with her team’s piece, “Room Garden.”

“I really feel that these projects can help make College Park a better place,” she says.

For more information, visit makingplaceumd.wordpress.com. Passersby can connect via Twitter #CPMakePlace.

 

4/17/15

By Sissi Cao/The Diamondback

Environmentalism might sound like science to some, but Terry Tempest Williams said it takes a humanitarian perspective to fully understand it.
Williams, an award-winning nature writer, came to speak at the arts and humanities college’s Dean’s Lecture Series at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on Thursday night to talk about the humanities, her writing and the environment.
About 50 people attended the event featuring the environmental humanitarian, who is known for her books Finding Beauty In A Broken World and Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. She currently teaches at Dartmouth College.
“I grew up with the value that community comes before individuals. I believe community is the vehicle for social change and the vehicle for empathy,” Williams said.
The writer was born in 1955 and grew up in a Mormon family in Salt Lake City, Utah. She called herself “a free spirit in a conservative religion,” recounting events in her early life that led her to the path of writing and supporting environmental activism.

 

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Lobby, Physical Sciences Complex
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 - 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Terry Tempest Williams and members of Narrative4 will lead an environmentally themed story exchange at the University of Maryland.

Gildenhorn Recital Hall, The Clarice
Thursday, April 23, 2015 - 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

A lively mix of performance art, video and talk will showcase international activists who are strategically using art for social justice.

Grand Ballroom, Stamp
Monday, April 06, 2015 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Student performers, music and dance groups are coming together to raise awareness for victims and survivors of sexual violence for the first night of Sex Week.

The Clarice, Gildenhorn Recital Hall
Thursday, April 16, 2015 - 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Terry Tempest Williams, award winning author of “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family & Place” and “Finding Beauty in a Broken World,” will discuss the role of the humanities in environmentalism.

3/6/15

College Park was officially chartered along Route 1 70 years ago. And as University of Maryland president Wallace Loh says, “When the city prospers, the university prospers, too.”

But Loh says the city hasn’t exactly been prospering of late. And much of that has to do with the development — or lack thereof — on Route 1.

“This university has grown dramatically over the past 25 years to become a Top 20 public research university,” he explains. “Its future growth, to the extent that it’s constrained, is not by internal factors but by the surrounding community.”

Whereas a generation ago, 30-35 percent of faculty, staff and students live in College Park, Loh points out that now it’s down to three percent. “Most commute to Montgomery County, Howard County, and D.C.,” he says.

He adds that “if you look at all the top ranked public research universities, they’re also in top ranked university towns. There is a synergy between the two. Therefore we can no longer think of the continuing rise of the University of Maryland independently of the community of which it is a part.”

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