Wesleyan University: Sustainability

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Scenes from the Feet to the Fire Festival in Middletown, CT on May 10, 2008. Photography by Camille Parente.

Scene from the Feet to the Fire Festival in Middletown, CT on May 10, 2008. Photography by Camille Parente.

A sustained impact from Feet to the Fire was a realistic goal for the project because the initiative grew organically out of prior successes in arts/non-arts collaboration, and was organized with a strong intention of having practices and programs continue after the project was completed.

The parts of F2F that will continue beyond the funded project include: the relationships between the CFA and the various campus partners to continue to create innovative collaborations; relationships between faculty that may result in new course modules and co-taught courses; the commitment to having a holistic and academically rigorous First Year Matters (freshman orientation) program that includes deep engagement with the arts, including the staging of a Common Moment; the effect of these programs on many non-arts students who will continue to see the arts as a way of knowing; the impact on non-arts faculty who have gained new knowledge about arts pedagogies and means of inquiry and vice versa; the methods and practices of engaging with community members that will be employed in future campus/community collaborations.

Some specific sustainable effects include:

  • A proposal developed by CFA director Pam Tatge for Wesleyan to become a model creative campus among liberal arts institutions was adopted as part of one of five initiatives in the university-wide strategic plan; Tatge is now working with faculty to explore strategies and make recommendations in this regard. Wesleyan has developed a four-year plan to develop the arts components of the overall Creative Campus strategy
  • Tatge sits on the University First Year Matters planning committee which determines the content of orientation readings and activities for incoming students; a CFA staff member also sits on the University Sustainability Committee to contribute expertise in engaging campus community members in environmental issues
  • The Feet to the Fire theme continues as a “brand” on campus and in the community, and in 2009-10, the first post-grant year, has been focused on water resources, with the First Year Matters program reflecting that focus
  • The CFA’s purview as expanded to include supporting the role of the arts in all areas of the curriculum; strategic planning for CFA incorporates the lessons of F2F to position it centrally in the interdisciplinary life of the campus and to make leadership in that area part of CFA staff’s core functions
  • New curriculum modules incorporating the arts and science/social science and a new co-taught course are being developed with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Wesleyan has created a College of the Environment that will feature among its curricular offerings interdisciplinary learning modeled on the co-taught courses developed for F2F

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