Pictured from left to right, Jorge Caraballo, Skye Moret-Ferguson, Muge Udemir, and Carl Dumas.
While some grad students were using spring break to relax or catch up on projects, four CAMD students attended the 2016 Emerging Creatives Student Summit held at the University of Michigan from March 9 to March 11.
The summit, titled RISE: Forging Resilient Communities, brought together 80 students from more than 50 disciplines, according to an announcement by the University of Michigan. The event is sponsored by the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru). The organization provides institutional support for arts-integrative research, curricula, and programs at research universities. According to the program announcement, students “…explore not only how creative partnerships can transform and revitalize communities in sustainable ways,” … and “gain tools they can bring back to their own campuses.”
The students, selected by their graduate coordinators, were Jorge Caraballo from journalism’s Media Innovation, Carl Damas from Architecture, Muge Undemir from MDes-Sustainable Urban Environments and Skye Moret from Information Design & Visualization.
Three students shared their experience.
I liked working in a team with amazing students from universities from all around the U.S. Carl Damas and I were on the same team, and we worked on a project that addressed gentrification in larger cities. Our team tried to answer one question: How can students be more aware of gentrification in the communities they’re moving to, and how can they become part of the solution? We were a team of 12, and of different backgrounds: architects, graphic designers, journalists, musicians, web designers, anthropologists, etc. We had to develop and present the project in less than two days, so we were busy all the time, but it was definitely worth it. The presentation was very successful and we received amazing feedback. But what I liked the most was the process of building the idea with a very close deadline, it pushed the best of us. It was great to meet Carl, Skye and Mudge. I think Northeastern’s team was definitely outstanding.
We were kept quite busy. We spent at least four hours per day working in project groups. Muge Undemir and I led a 12-person team focused on helping communities define resiliency for themselves, creating a framework for an online platform that helps a community contextualize their problem within a spectrum of other case studies and theme. Overall, I was honestly most impressed and proud of our Northeastern team. Muge, Carl, Jorge and I all seemed to have a ‘big picture,’ interdisciplinary approach to the problems that we were tasked. We were often problem-critical as much as solution-driven, a good balance to many colleagues in our groups who were more inclined to create smaller, quick fix projects. Though I am certainly biased, our NEU cohort was certainly some of the strongest thinkers and leaders, and I feel quite remiss that I am now nearing graduation and my time left to collaborate with them is almost gone!
The conference felt very invigorating, particularly because, as students from different fields, we were able to come up with very interdisciplinary solutions to multifaceted problems. Through the conference’s programming, we were able to identify, first hand, how coming to those solutions is extremely difficult. In my own research, I am attempting to use design to understand ways in which we can address spatial injustice and also understand how urban design and policy has contributed to unequal landscapes. Being in Detroit was especially exciting because the city, to me, is illustrative of what it means to reclaim space. This reclamation of space is, in part, being triggered by art and design. Design can be used in ways that give power back to communities by drawing out the power that communities already hold. The conference has also re-affirmed the power of art and design as not only being something tangible but something that evokes emotion and spirit. Using creative processes to reclaim space, tell a story of a place, and create awareness of spatial injustice, can all contribute to strengthening community identity and community resilience.