Students, faculty, and staff who miss the spontaneity and collaboration of coming to campus every day are the prime audience of the new Global Studio, a Hamilton Lugar School program that brings people together over Zoom to support one another and think creatively about their research interests.
The sessions, each an approachable 90 minutes, are fun, engaging, and “help you to relieve a little bit of stress as well,” says Dana Vanderburgh, a co-creator of the program and current PhD student in Anthropology at IU.
Each class adopts a different theme, such as climate change, power and authority, or transformation, and uses that theme as a jumping off point for artistic exercises that encourage participants to approach issues or problems from a different perspective than they’re accustomed to. If you’re feeling stuck, want a new way to collaborate, or would like to try a different way to generate ideas, this program could be very helpful.
Vanderburgh is well suited to leading these sessions as both an artist and a global researcher, having received her Master’s in International Studies from HLS while studying the intersection between dance and human rights. As an arts instructor, she has taught community dance workshops in Ghana, Panama, and the US. And as part of a research internship she joined through connections at HLS she has also worked with an organization at the University of Manitoba that brings together community elders, artists, researchers, and scientists to engage with the impacts of hydroelectric damming on indigenous communities across the province.
Her co-teacher on these educational experiences is Francisco Ormaza, a visual artist and teacher who believes in the value of experiential education in which students learn from each other and take risks. If one of these risks or artistic activities leads to a valuable way of thinking through a problem, Francisco says, perhaps it could become part of your routine for researching, studying, or collaborating.
These exercises, developed through their experiences as teachers and artists, include drawing, photographing, and some creative writing with the help of prompts.
To those wondering how these exercise and classes help students and researchers work through tough questions, Vanderburgh says that “global change, systemic change and all of these big picture questions” are sometimes best approached by first creating “a space to envision together [and] to re-imagine together instead of just trying to solve the problem.”
There are many benefits to this focus on process, imagination, and new approaches to questions. A big one? The classes are just plain fun.
“The process of playing with creativity,” Ormaza says, creates an enjoyable, dynamic space.
If you want to do something creative that relieves some stress and reproduces the dynamism of meeting with people in person, give the Global Studio schedule a look. Jumping into a class is easy, and Ormaza and Vanderburgh are even using our international network to help the class develop a global collaborative project with students and artists internationally. At a time when international travel is difficult and in some places impossible, this chance for global collaboration is particularly exciting.