‘Emerging Creatives’ from top research institutions convene at JMU


james madison university jmuMore than 80 students and 10 faculty members from 26 research universities, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech, will convene for The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) 2019 Emerging Creatives Student Summit from Feb. 7-10 at James Madison University, an a2ru partner university.

Participants, including 12 students from Virginia universities (six from JMU), will explore interdisciplinary research and practice addressing the theme of “food and place,” discussing issues such as food insecurity, the impact of food production on the environment, and the relationship between food and place.

Three of the students from JMU are:

  • Karen Franz of Winchester, VA, who is majoring in graphic design;
  • Elena Hin, of Fairfax, VA, who is majoring in interdisciplinary liberal studies and history; and
  • Alex Shafer, of Cary, NC, who is majoring in biology.

This summit represents the sixth of a2ru’s emerging creative student summits, which are designed to have emerging scholars, engineers, artists and scientists get a head start on interdisciplinary research, practice and collaboration. Previous summits engaged on issues of creative placemaking, water, spectacle, and social justice.

Students will have access to the following industry experts/artists and faculty mentors during the summit:

  • JMU alumna and former JMU art professor Stephanie Williams, a multimedia artist and current professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) whose work focuses on food and culture;
  • Michelle Hesse, director of agency relations at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and former JMU dietetics professor;
  • Michael Snell-Feikema, a former history professor and a peace and solidary activist for the unionization campaign of Harrisonburg-area poultry workers;
  • Ian Cheney, documentary filmmaker and producer of the Peabody Award-winning film King Corn;
  • Kate Daughdrill, artist, urban farmer, writer and speaker and founder of Burnside Farms in Detroit; and
  • Ross Gay, award-winning American poet, author, editor and professor at Indiana University.

The a2ru annual Emerging Creatives Student Summit brings together students who have an interest in the arts, crossing disciplinary boundaries, and developing collaborative projects. Summits have a strong project-based component with activities such as panel discussions, keynote speakers, site visits, performances and exhibitions, networking opportunities and skill-building experiences.

Participants will compete for grants to continue any promising collaborations started at the summit.

The a2ru is a partnership of over 40 institutions committed to ensuring the greatest possible institutional support for the full spectrum of arts and arts-integrative research, curricula, programs, and creative practice for the benefit of all students and faculty at research universities and the communities they serve.



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