After arriving on the University of Cincinnati’s campus fewer than two years ago, two instructors are creating a new certificate program for students to help them see and think differently.
A two-day symposium put together by the assistant professors culminates nine months of planning, as well as the launch of the new cross-collegiate certificate program. Look Better
, hosted Oct. 13 and 14 in and around the main Clifton campus, will focus on interdisciplinary visual research, practice and pedagogy. “UC is an up and coming university,” says Stephanie Sadre-Orafai, assistant professor of anthropology. “But there is no program of visual culture studies.”
The new certificate program blends courses from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. The goal is to teach students “how to effectively combine critical theory and social analysis with art, media and design practice.” The symposium will feature speakers
from across the university, country and “innovative scholars” from as far away as Germany, Sadre-Orafai says.
The lengthy list of presenters includes “mostly young but up-and-coming scholars and artists,” Sadre-Orafai says. About 100 people have registered for the event so far, and Sadre-Orafai, along with her co-organizer Jordan Tate, an assistant professor of fine art, anticipate a regional response by inviting students and faculty from every university within two hours of Cincinnati.
“The goal of both the symposium and certificate is to generate a broad, campus-wide discussion on what is at stake in how we see and provide a platform to think about how we might develop new artistic, media and design forms and practices to intervene in dominant visions,” according to the Look Better blog.
Sadre-Orafai and Tate met during a faculty orientation in fall 2010 and realized that they were both interested in studying the same topics. It wasn’t until some of their students – who were taking both anthropology with Sadre-Orafai and photography with Tate, said they were learning about some of the same things in each class that the momentum for Look Better started.
“It organically came about," Sadre-Orafai says. “We asked, ‘How can we do more stuff together?' ”
The entire event is free and open to the public, but Sadre-Orafai says registration is encouraged because of potential space constraints.
By Taylor Dungjen