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1102J Francis Scott Key Hall
Friday, April 29, 2016 - 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Campus visit by Bradford Hesse, Chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch (HCIRB) of the National Cancer Institute.

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.

By Gabriela Martínez

Angélique Kidjo, Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter and activist from Benin, visited the University of Maryland for the WORLDWISE: Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series to talk about her life story and the role of music in activism. 

As soon as she walked onstage and sat down for her live discussion with Sheri Parks, associate dean of University of Maryland’s College of Arts and Humanities, Angélique Kidjo looked at the audience and said “You are all so quiet. We’re talking about art, man.”

Using her own lively stories about her childhood in a village in Benin, Kidjo captured the audience and lightened the mood.  An inquisitive child—known affectionately in her village as “Where, what and how?”—Kidjo was privileged for having parents who greatly valued her intellectual development.

Kidjo’s mother, a skilled costume designer, created a theater in her community.  As a child, Kidjo would spend time climbing in and out of the animal costumes her mother made. One night, when her mother did not have enough actors between scenes, she made Kidjo go onstage.  Not knowing what to do, Kidjo decided to belt out a song.

It was after that moment that Kidjo decided that she wanted to spend her life onstage.

When asked what it feels like to be the queen of African music, Kidjo responded  “I don’t believe in kings or queens.”

She said her nature is to defy structures of power, which she did after deciding to leave Benin, having realized that the country’s communist regime was not going to foster her creativity and desire to grow intellectually. 

Escaping Benin was not easy, she said. At the time, citizens who wanted to leave the country needed to get authorization from the government. Kidjo, however, was lucky. Her brother’s friend, who was working as airport security at the time, let her board the plane while his supervisor was in the bathroom.

“I’ve never ran so fast in my life,” Kidjo said.

When Kidjo arrived in France, she experienced racism and cultural estrangement in French society, and at the educational institution she graduated from—the CIM Jazz School of Paris.

On her way to register at the school, Kidjo asked for directions from two students.

“Jazz is not for African people,” one of the students told her.

The head of the school, having overheard what the girls had said to Kidjo, told Kidjo that she could prove those students wrong. At the end of the school year, he introduced her to the person who produced her debut album “Parakou.”

Since then, Kidjo’s fame has skyrocketed. She won her first Grammy in 2008 for her album “Djin Djin” and was named one of the 40 most powerful celebrities in Africa by Forbes.

Kidjo also discussed her work with the Batonga Foundation for Girls in Africa, which aims to empower girls and young women in Africa through educational opportunities. Kidjo is currently working on a cellphone-based program that collects information about girls in different African villages and maps it out according to different locations.

The purpose of the program is to find out how girls are living, if they are in school, forcefully married, or going through other types of difficult living situations. Kidjo’s foundation will develop an educational approach for girls based on the needs of the community reflected through the data.

For Kidjo, the first step in creating humanitarian programs for Africa, is giving voices to people and finding out what are their genuine needs.

“I don’t believe anyone can make any change in Africa if the African people are not in the center of the change,” Kidjo said.  “If you don’t ask them what they need, how can you bring a program that makes any sense to people?”

After the discussion, Moses Namara ‘16, a computer science major originally from Uganda, asked Kidjo for advice on how to improve the education system in different African countries.

In response to Namara’s question, Kidjo advocated for the role of youth in a country’s social and educational development, at the same time warning against starting revolutions and “breaking a system” without a plan.

“The platform is there—use it wisely,” said Kidjo, who is optimistic about the power of the Internet, but also wary about its potential to isolate people.

 After graduating from the University of Maryland, Namara will return to Uganda to teach basic programming classes at different local universities, including the Kampala International University.

Toward the end of the program, students gathered around Kidjo to discuss issues of colonialism and social injustice in Africa.

“She is very engaging,” said Peace Gwam ‘17, an economics and history major. “I like that she really called us to action as young students.”

Soulyana Lakew ’17, an economics major originally from Ethiopia, is interested in the role of the western world in the development of Africa.

“It is so refreshing to meet people with integrity,” Lakew said. “A lot of the role models we are given in society are so corrupt. To find someone who is able to use their voice for good and who is true to their word is so inspiring.”

 

12/6/15

By Sydney Tonic, The Diamondback

Photo Courtesy of Victoria Robinson

The arts and humanities college partnered with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Office of International Affairs to foster a discussion about the ongoing refugee crisis in the country and what students at this university can do to help.

Sheri Parks, the director for the Center for Synergy and the associate dean for research and interdisciplinary programming in the arts and humanities college, organized the “Thinkathon,” hoping to implement a “think and do” model to involve students in the discussion.

About 15 students gathered for the workshop Friday morning in Stamp Student Union.

“We believe that, along with faculty and staff, students care about major issues of our time, such as the refugee crisis,” Parks said. “We have students here who have been refugees or are the children of refugees.”

Yasmine Taeb, a legislative representative for human rights and civil liberties at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, spoke about the crisis and its human impact at the event. She said the present crisis is devastating and more than 8 million refugees are internally displaced in Syria.

As part of the committee, Taeb lobbies and advocates about refugee-related issues with congressional offices in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. 

“Refugees coming to the U.S. are by far the most scrutinized community of entrance to the U.S.,” Taeb said. “We just don’t feel as though the U.S.’s response to the crisis has been adequate; their response has been quite tepid, at best.” 

Hiba Salih, program manager for youth and health at the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore, and Tyler Stoddard, its development coordinator, also came to talk about the work they do for refugees. Salih, a former refugee from Sudan, explained the difficulties of the life of a refugee coming to this country.

“The major challenges are the trauma that they have been through,” Salih said. “Having to adapt to a new country, new systems … they haven’t seen civilization.”

Read more here

The Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy and the James A. Clark School for Engineering are sponsoring a contest to design containers for art therapy kits that we are calling Art in Box.

Art in a Box are kits that contain a collection of art and play materials selected by child psychiatrists and trauma specialists. These kits enable children to cope with the stress of trauma through creative expression and will be shipped internationally to different schools and educational institutions, as well as refugee camps. Students must compete in teams made up of two or more colleges, with at least one member from the College of Arts and Humanities and one member from the School of Engineering.

The winners will receive $5,000 in prize money.

Requirements:

The participants of this contest will have the unique task of creating a container that is visually appealing and can be used for displaying and creating art. The container must be resilient enough to withstand international shipping and made with materials that would allow them to be manufactured at a low cost.

Containers should have a maximum length, width and height of 50” x 22”x 24.”

Entries can be submitted to arhusynergy@umd.edu in the form of design documents. While not required, prototypes may be delivered to 1102 Frances Scott Key Hall.

Deadline for the design: STAY TUNED: We are extending the March 1, 2016 deadline and will relaunch this initiative in the fall with a fall 2016 deadline for submissions. 

Click here for flyer.

WHAT:

The WORLDWISE: Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture Series features a discussion between Angélique Kidjo and Sheri Parks, associate dean in the College of Arts and Humanities, in which Kidjo will talk about her life story, including her reasons for escaping Benin’s former leftist regime to pursue her dream of becoming an artist in Paris. She will also talk about what it means to be the “queen of African music” and her fervent activism around women and girls in Africa.

The discussion will also explore the idea of cultural rights in the lives of refugees, taking into account the United Nations’ recognition of culture as a human right.

Prior to the lecture, the  Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy led by Sheri Parks will host a ThinkAThon for Refugees: A Think and Do Day of Intellectual Activism, in which Yasmine Taeb from Friends’ National Committee for Legislation will brief participants on the ongoing refugee crises. Two representatives from the International Rescue Committee will provide briefings on the current refugee crisis in Baltimore, which is one of largest receiver cities of refugees in the Unites States.

The briefings will be followed by group discussions, in which participants will examine specific issues and think of solutions to alleviate the plight of refugees.

The event is co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of International Affairs.

Lunch will be provided. Participants should register, but walk-ins are welcome.

WHO:

Sheri Parks, Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming in the College of Arts and Humanities

Angelique Kidjo, singer-songwriter and activist from Benin, Africa

Growing up in Benin, Africa, Kidjo was influenced by the sounds and rhythms of Beninese traditional music, as well as jazz, pop, and salsa music. Through her dynamic collaborations with composers such as Philip Glass, Kidjo strives to combine African music with different musical styles.

Kidjo was named one of the 40 most powerful celebrities in Africa by Forbes and one of the 100 most inspiring women in the world by The Guardian. As the founder of the Batonga Foundation for Girls in Africa and is Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, Kidjo is dedicated to empowering the lives of African women.

WHEN:

5:30 - 7 p.m. (WORLDWISE: Arts and Humanities Dean’S Lecture Series)

9 a.m. - 2 p.m. (ThinkAThon for Refugees)

WHERE:

The ThinkAThon for Refugees will be held in the Charles Carroll Room at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park.

The WORLDWISE: Arts and Humanities Dean’s Lecture with Sheri Parks and Angélique Kidjo will take place in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall in The Clarice, University of Maryland, College Park. 

Zupnik Lecture Hall, Rm. 1110, Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building
Thursday, November 05, 2015 - 5:00 PM

This year's Whiting-Turner Lecture features Kevin Apperson, who will discuss how he hires artists, humanists and engineers who work together to develop healthcare technology solutions that work for both patients and doctors.

9/27/15

By Miranda Jackson, The Diamondback

Highly acclaimed Taiwanese choreographer and dancer Huang Yi came to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center with one seemingly crazy concept: a piece of choreography designed around a robot named KUKA.

Many years ago, when Yi was a child, his family underwent a drastic lifestyle change when his parents had to file for bankruptcy. As his artist statement reads: “My family of four moved from a luxurious house to a 40-square-foot room.”

The constant moving that he experienced put a lot of stress on his parents, so much so that they often attempted suicide. In order to relieve his parents of anymore potential stress, Yi detached himself from all his emotions, a very common defense mechanism among children. He became a perfect child, like a robot, with hardly any personality left at all.

Perhaps this is why he connected so well with the atmosphere of robotics. His favorite television program growing up was a cartoon called Doraemon, which Yi explains as a “Japanese animation character and a cat robot who is always there to solve problems for his owner.” Robots became a passion of his from a very young age, as he identified with their loyalty and selfless destiny.

As an adult, he decided that he wanted to combine two divergent concepts: the science of mechanical engineering and the art of dance, as he grew up with a passion for both. His show featured four members: himself, dancer Lin Jou-Wen, dancer Hu Chien and German robot KUKA. Yi didn’t build this robot; he simply programmed it after receiving it from the company, which was in itself an ordeal.

Read more here.

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