Arts & Humanities: Toward a Flourishing State?
Network for Academic Renewal Conference
November 3-5, 2011
Providence, Rhode Island
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In his wisdom, George Washington observed, “A flourishing state of the arts and sciences contributes to national prosperity and reputation.” The point of the observation: the arts and humanities are inseparable in Washington’s reasoning from the sciences. The statement signals endorsement and intent. It stakes a strong and propitious claim for generative learning within the democratic experiment then about to begin.
As history shows us, however, the arts and humanities always risk falling from favor, seeming to some as ancillary or extrinsic, a frill to do without, to cut and drop when times are hard. In the early 21st century, we are experiencing such a period. It is a time of concern or distress, a time of fear of decline and loss. Yet what better time to re-imagine and consider anew the democratic culture that is the United States of America, the many and various ways in which the arts and humanities figure and weave their way throughout the fabric of the nation?
Arts & Humanities will center these broad academic sectors within liberal education and ask participants to connect the arts and humanities with the needs of a globally challenged democracy. The conference will situate the arts and humanities in connection with each other and with other disciplines and professional fields. It will encourage participants to address both tensions and opportunities that result from lowering boundaries and creating new occasions for convergence. The meeting will emphasize faculty engagement and pedagogy—concentrating attention on the challenges of our current moment and thinking ahead as wisely and energetically as we can.
Liberal education in the twenty-first century demands this kind of dexterity and repositioning. The world is changing in ways that underscore the need for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary thought and action—an interweaving of knowledge and application. For the sake of our students, the arts and humanities cannot be bounded by disciplinary knowledge and skills. The arts and humanities must also address applied and integrative learning and personal and social responsibility—how and to what ends students are using their knowledge and skills, how students are able to work within real-world contexts, integrating and applying their learning as this century demands.
The conference will focus attention on innovative and practical approaches to the arts and humanities as integral to liberal education. It will emphasize the meaning of engagement of the arts and humanities in the common good of the nation, in civic, cultural, social life of communities as well as campuses, and in global context. It will explore ways in which campuses and classrooms are addressing the wellbeing of the arts and humanities and preparing for the future, prompting creativity, designing integrative approaches, devising new pedagogies and designs for general education and majors, assessing learning outcomes, using new tools of information technology, working with changing forms of literacy, addressing the evolving demographics of the US and the imperative to make excellence in the arts and humanities inclusive. It will examine an array of strategies to address the current moment of crisis.
The conference will address four major themes:
- The arts and humanities engaged by big questions, both contemporary and enduring
- The arts and humanities practiced extensively across the curriculum, engaging creativity, critical thinking, inquiry and analysis, and an array of literacies
- The arts and humanities as human expression, anchored through active involvement in civic life, in local and global communities, addressing real-world challenges across people’s lives
- The arts and humanities in synthesis and advanced accomplishment, demonstrated through application and performance, using new pedagogies and forms of assessment
Visit the Call for Proposals to find out more about each theme.
Please contact the Development Office at (202) 884-7421 or e-mail Development@aacu.org for information about sponsorship opportunities for this conference.