Creative Campus Initiative
The CFA is committed to elevating the place of art and artists at Wesleyan in ways that innovatively strengthen teaching, student learning, and artmaking. We are also re-imagining the role of artists’ engagement in curricular and co-curricular life. Like scholars in other fields, generative performing artists need time for research and development. The current pressured cycle of commission-premiere-tour does not allow time for artists to percolate ideas and interact with experts in other disciplines to advance their research and thinking. College campuses can serve as the incubators of new works, offering performing artists opportunities to step back, reflect, explore, and experiment outside the pressures of running companies and ongoing producing.
It is the Center for the Arts' belief that:
- Infusing the arts into other disciplines allows students to draw on their personal experiences, which adds dimension and impact to their learning.
- Art-making allows for ensemble learning and diminishes the hierarchy between student and teacher.
- Art helps students think about their thinking.
- Kinesthetic learning shortens the distance to knowledge and enriches the knowing.
- Today’s problems are too complex to be solved by distinct disciplines; we need integrated approaches and we need leaders who can draw on multiple knowledge sets. Teaching students via art-embedded courses prepares them for the challenges of the future.
Science Choreography was the CFA’s first experiment with cross-disciplinary exchanges and began as a collaboration between choreographer Liz Lerman and scientists at Wesleyan University. This exchange was focused on using dance as a tool to understand biology within the classroom, particularly in the form of modules. Together Lerman and various science faculty used various movement-based tools both to teach science and encourage students to think creatively about science.
Feet to the Fire began in 2008 after Science Choreography revealed the benefits of connecting the arts and sciences. The CFA partnered with Barry Chernoff, then a professor in the Earth & Environmental studies department at Wesleyan, to develop Feet to the Fire (F2F) to examine environmental topics from a multi-disciplinary, cross-campus perspective. The areas for connection to F2F went beyond science and art modules, to include co-taught courses, commissions for visiting artists and faculty artists, as well as community-wide activities. This cross-disciplinary exchange was extended further in 2010 to include all academic disciplines. Currently, F2F aims to faciliate the creation of informal, interactive projects that develop deeper understanding of environmental issues through personal engagement and experience.
Writing at Wesleyan is a partner in the Creative Campus Initiative's interdisciplinary programming.
Music and Public Life (2012 - 2013) was a year-long celebration and exploration of the sounds, words, and spirit of music in public at the local, national, and transnational levels. All concerts, workshops, gatherings, and courses were designed to cross disciplines and cultural boundaries.
Innovations: Intersection of Art and Science Symposium (March 2013) was curated by choreographer Liz Lerman and brought together teams of artists and scientists to share approaches, skills, and outscomes of their research at the intersection of art and science.