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Exploring the Future of Education

04/30/2014

The 2050-funded MOVEABLE STUDIO proposed by Professor of Architecture Gabriel Feld kicks off in Istanbul on May 18.

This spring the first recipients of RISD 2050 Fund grants are building on the college’s core values of critical thinking and making to explore new territory, both physical and virtual. “The 2050 Fund is intended to help seed projects and provide supportive funding to explore complex and dynamic questions about RISD’s future,” notes Assistant Dean of Faculty Tracie Costantino. She cites current issues in higher education ranging from the perceived value of the investment to technology and how it’s transforming teaching and learning to changing demographics as key to exploring and imagining where RISD will be by the middle of this century.

Responding to the call for project proposals, faculty members and students in the Architecture, Furniture Design and Digital + Media departments earned support during the first round of funding. Professor of Architecture Gabriel Feld has  proposed A Moveable Studio, an international series to answer the question: “What if the classroom were no longer static, but moved from place to place?” The series kicks off on May 18 with a weeklong interdisciplinary workshop in Istanbul, Turkey followed by stops in Seoul, Korea in June and São Paulo, Brazil in July.

“The idea is to do something relatively simple but with some logistical complexity, as a way to plant a seed for more ambitious undertakings involving RISD alumni, students and teachers in different parts of the world,” says Feld. “I often hear from former students that their time at RISD was extraordinary, so now I’m [inviting them to experience that spirit again], if only for a week.”

Assistant Professor of Architecture Carl Lostritto is also engaged in interdisciplinary exploration through Coding and Computation. The on-campus series of events is designed to support RISD Code Studio, an interdisciplinary initiative he co-founded last year with Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Clement Valla MFA 09 DM. Lostritto’s project will explore the implications of coding on how we learn, make and perceive art and design.

“We will host guest speakers and create corresponding publications that document the various responses from the RISD computation and coding community,” Lostritto explains. “Our goal is to bring together emerging artists and designers from various disciplines to catalyze our voice.” Confirmed guest speakers include “code-bender” and open-source video game designer Chris Novello as well as technology educators Darwin Grosse and Peter Nyboer, who will conduct a two-part workshop presenting cutting-edge hardware and software popular among musicians and sound artists.

Fellow Code Studio members Lauren McCarthy and Evelyn Eastmond – both critics in Digital + Media – also won 2050 grants for a related project, Processing: RISD Learns to Program for the Web. The concept of Processing (capital P) was created at the MIT Media Lab back in 2001 and emphasizes visual interactive media. McCarthy and Eastmond propose to develop the next iteration of Processing here at RISD, so “the institution can move from playing catch-up to becoming a leader in the creative coding movement.”

Creative programming classes are already available at RISD, but the aim of the project is to build on this curriculum and take it to the next level. 2050 Fund support will also go toward creating and maintaining a website where students can share their work and learn from one another. “It’s really taking off,” says McCarthy. “People are coming out of the woodwork to help!”

The last of the current crop of 2050 proposals to receive funding comes from graduate student Teshia Treuhaft MFA 14 FD. Her Hacking Our Educational Spaces project aims to take the best aspects of the maker/hacker movements and integrate them into RISD’s more traditional educational model. “How will these grassroots communities and large institutions interface?” she asks. “What are the inherent values in each structure?”

This summer Treuhaft will research self-organizing groups that deal with technology and design in collaborative spaces, primarily in New York City and Berlin, two global hubs for hacker culture. “RISD offers such amazing resources,” she says, “but the other spaces have some advantages as well. I wonder if we could develop a symbiotic relationship with them. For one thing, after students graduate they need facilities. Perhaps these maker spaces can serve our graduates.”

Simone Solondz

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tags: Architecture, Digital + Media, technology, digital, faculty, Furniture Design, global, innovation, Graduate Studies, interdisciplinary

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