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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.

 

To read more, click here.

Benjamin Banneker Room, Stamp
Wednesday, April 08, 2015 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

As a part of Sex Week, please join us for an artist's workshop about consent and changing rape culture.

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.

3/9/15

 

By Jeremy Snow, The Diamondback

 

After 10 years of saving money, two years of planning and nine months of renovation, the Old Greenbelt Theatre is ready for showtime.

The more-than-75-year-old single-screen movie theater near Crescent Road in Greenbelt will reopen to the public as a nonprofit theater later this month. Caitlin McGrath, a university English professor who is now the theater’s executive director, said the theater could offer special events and screenings as well as internships for students.

Though it had long been underperforming and had been closed for the last nine months, McGrath said she thought that with enough support, the location could become a community staple.

“It felt like a really good fit where I could use my strengths as a film academic and connections in that world, and also with the community on this campus to breathe new life into the theater,” she said.

The theater will continue to screen mainstream movies at night, but it will now hold events, film series and special screenings for the first time, McGrath said. For example, she hopes to start by showing Oscar-nominated movies and other notable films from the nine months during which the theater was closed for renovation.

McGrath said she hopes the theater becomes a cinematic hub for the university, as students can easily reach it via the 130 Greenbelt Shuttle-UM route.

 

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.”

To read more, click here.

Westminster Hall, Baltimore, MD
Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM

A one-day think and do event that brings together scholars, professionals, social activists, foundations and more to address some of societies most pressing issues.

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