Arts Initiative awards inaugural Arts + the Curriculum grants


The U-M Arts Initiative has announced the inaugural projects in its Arts + the Curriculum program and is accepting a second round of proposals from University of Michigan faculty and staff.

Arts + the Curriculum promotes the integration of arts thinking in curricular development along with programs that enhance the connection between teaching and the arts at U-M.

“The Arts Initiative is proud to support the nine incredible projects of this initial cohort. Adding to the strong landscape of arts on campus, these projects will demonstrate the impact of arts in research, teaching and learning in novel ways,” said Christopher Audain, the initiative’s managing director.

“We’re very excited to extend a second invitation to faculty and staff to apply for the Arts + the Curriculum program if you missed the first deadline.”

Applications for the Arts + the Curriculum program should promote integration of arts thinking, methodologies or practices into student learning through the curriculum through one of four focus areas:

  • Collaboration and interdisciplinary teaching and pedagogy project development.
  • Curricular materials and new class modules or course components.
  • Research or data analysis about the impact of the arts on teaching and learning.
  • Development of high-impact learning experiences centered on the arts.

The program’s goal is to catalyze new collaborations or new attempts to bring the arts into a class or program, support research in arts pedagogy to promote wider understanding of arts in a research university context, exploration of models of collaboration across disciplines through the arts, or models of arts-based engaged learning that can serve a wide range of students.

The Arts Initiative will make grants available up to $10,000 for individual projects from U-M faculty and staff, and up to $20,000 for teams. Applications are encouraged from teams composed of members from two or more university units.

Proposals for the program’s second round of funding are due Sept. 26. Project awardees from the first round include:

The Implementation of Forum Theatre to Engage in Difficult Conversations within the U-M Social Work Community

Uses Forum Theatre to provide social work students with concrete strategies on how to engage in difficult conversations with professors, field supervisors and clients, especially around themes associated with “-isms” (e.g., racism, sexism, and classism) and other challenging dialogues. Led by Ashley Cureton, assistant professor of social work in the School of Social Work and assistant professor of education in the School of Education, with Rosalva Osorio, a field faculty member and lecturer in the School of Social Work.

Unlocking the Arts in Flint

Builds upon the existing partnership between Youth Arts: Unlocked and UM-Flint to integrate the arts into the social and behavioral sciences curricula and involve visual and performing arts students in a learning-based collaboration with community organizations. Led by Benjamin Gaydos, associate professor of design at UM-Flint.

Checkup: Revisualizing Spaces of Care Through a Multidisciplinary Immersion Experience

Develops and tests an interdisciplinary teaching and learning environment using extended-reality technology and virtual immersion by bringing together students of architecture and nursing. Led by Jonathan Rule, assistant professor of practice in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, with Michelle Aebersold, clinical professor in nursing and XR faculty innovator in residence.

Assessing Faculty Engineering/Arts Student Teams (FEAST)

Analysis of surveys by FEAST participants to develop data toward the improvement and scalability of the program for interdisciplinary curricula. FEAST supports faculty projects that benefit student teams over multiple semesters, specifically practice-based arts research and team productivity and responsiveness. Led by John Granzow, associate professor of music in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, with ArtsEngine.

Dancing and Writing Disability Differently

Collaboration of artists and pedagogues in creative writing and dance co-create new teaching materials, syllabi and course components. Led by Petra Kuppers, Anita Gonzalez Collegiate Professor of Performance Studies and Disability Culture, with Charli Brissey, assistant professor of dance, both in SMTD.

Co-Creating with Swineryy: Social Critique, Social Media and Pakistan

Students and faculty from the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, the School of Information, and LSA’s departments of Film, Television and Media, History and Anthropology, and the Center for South Asian Studies will work with the Pakistan-based social critic, Swineryy, whose feminist voice critiques the social order in Pakistan using a cast of digital assets and animations that discuss the role of technology in democracy. Led by Rebekah Modrak, professor of art and design in the Stamps School.

Art and Agency from the Inside Out

“Outside” students (from the university) and “inside” (incarcerated) students engage in intensive dialogue related to issues of social justice and inequality, with a focus on the causes and consequences of mass incarceration. Led by Paul Draus, professor of sociology and anthropology, and Anna Müller, associate professor of history, both in UM-Dearborn’s College of Arts, Sciences and Letters.

Creation of a Video Production Module

Teaches engineering students about the functional and artistic elements of film while tying those elements to design, giving students an opportunity to use their artistic expression to support their engineering purpose. Led by Kelly Bowker, Lecturer I in the College of Engineering.

Kongo to Congo Square

Uses the study of Congolese dance and African survivals in the Atlantic world as a conduit for understanding history and literature as an embodied research practice alongside more traditional modes of inquiry. Students, whose learning experience includes a residency in New Orleans, are asked to create final research projects of their own choosing that connect their embodiment of history through dance to other disciplines, and as a means to better understand their own lives and family histories. Led by Robin Wilson, associate professor of dance in SMTD.


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