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Center for Engagement and Community Development

Center for Engagement and Community Development Celebrates Cultural Arts Engagement at December Brown Bag

The Center for Engagement and Community Development (CECD) concluded its fall 2016 Brown Bag Engagement series on December 2 by highlighting cultural arts engagement at K-State.  The CECD brown bags are professional development events showcasing examples of community-engaged scholarship involving participatory research, service-learning, and community development activities with mutual benefit to collaborators and stakeholders, on and off campus. 

The December event championed the power of cultural arts to impact society and transform higher education.  Dr. David Procter, CECD Director, used the brown bag opportunity to announce that K-State has joined Imagining America (IA), - a consortium of more than 100 colleges and universities dedicated to the public role of arts, humanities, and design in our democracy. Imagining America members share a commitment to advancing public scholarship and engaged creative endeavors in higher education.  The IA consortium’s primary focus lies in the recognition that humanities, arts, and design fields are crucial to realizing the democratic, public, and civic purposes of American higher education.  IA membership comes from institutional commitment to this vision.

The December CECD brown bag illustrated how K-State manifests this vision of cultural arts engagement through presentations from the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, the Chapman Center for Rural Studies, and the K-State Dance program.

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) was featured as a compelling mode of public engagement by Kathrine Schlageck, Senior Educator of the Beach Museum. VTS is a mode of conversation about a work of art that gives opportunities for viewers to share their perceptions without fear of appearing “inexpert,” while learning to explore and explain what “evidence” from the work elicited their response.  Schlageck explained that facilitators of this kind of conversation apply it not only to K12 education, which has demonstrated improvements in children’s critical thinking and listening skills, but to adult participation in many contexts.  For example, VTS sessions with K-State Veterinary School students and faculty were found to be a critical practice for evidence-based diagnostic work. Three staff members at the Beach museum are trained as VTS facilitators, and act as mentors to others receiving training from different work sectors.  The next training opportunity for VTS at the Beach Museum will be on June 1 and 2, 2017.  For more information email beachart@k-state.edu.

Professor Bonnie Lynn-Sherow emphasized the mutually reinforcing benefits of public history projects to students and communities in her presentation on the Chapman Center for Rural Studies.  The center is named for K-State alumnus Mark Chapman, who stimulated one of many “Lost Communities” projects with a 2005 request for historical research on his parents’ home town of Broughton, Kansas.  Students conducting oral history interviews with community members “triangulate the evidence,” according to Lynn-Sherow, comparing and verifying claims among multiple historical records.  Students’ hunger for “real world” research work are matched by communities’ pride of ownership, as previously undiscovered stories of individuals, families, and towns are published online. “We’re expanding the audience for the students – previously they were only writing for one person – the professor,” said Lynn-Sherow.  “Now their work is read by anyone finding it on the internet in our research collections” (Chapman Center Research Collections). Students also curate and create film, current examples which can be seen until January 8 at the Flint Hills "Going Home: Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills" exhibit at the Discovery Center in Manhattan.  Free workshops are being offered in oral history techniques as part of the exhibit on December 10.  For more information email chapmancenter@k-state.edu

“Tap to Togetherness” a project dedicated to fostering parent-child intimacy through dance, was described by Professor Julie Pentz, Director of the K-State Dance Program.  “This was a way of giving back to the Parents as Teachers program, which I was once in,” said Pentz.  To build on that program’s work of improving parents’ understanding of early childhood development, a series of 30-minute dance sessions are offered, teaching tap steps to parents paired up with their pre-Kindergarten tots.    The parents take some time to get used to the idea, according to instructors. “The first day, we had some chairs in the room, and the parents just sat down, motioning their kids to the dance space,” said Pentz. “Later on we began measuring our success in engaging the parents by how few minutes they spent on their cell phones!”  When the children see that the steps they are trying to do are also challenging to the parents, the power relationships are momentarily changed, and everyone is on an equal basis.  Goals of the project go beyond agility to address bonding, recognition of sensory needs, and positive discipline.  Dates of tap sessions and video demonstrations are available from the Tap to Togetherness website.

The brown bag series is free and open to the public. For any questions regarding the series, contact the Center for Engagement and Community Development at 785-532-6868.