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Existing Cross-College and Internal Areas of Collaboration; Areas of Opportunity and Areas of Persistent Difficulty

University Arts Strategy – As Michigan State University develops a coordinated approach to an Arts Strategy that would place the arts at the heart of the University’s land-grant mission, the College is taking a proactive leadership role in shaping the engaged university of the 21st century. The arts offer creative ways of knowing that are integral to the mission of the University, both in themselves and in reciprocal connection with scientific, humanistic, and professional practices.

The College has established the Dean’s Arts Advisory Council (DAAC) to advise the Dean on Arts Initiatives, to elevate the profile of the arts, and to integrate the arts into the research mission of the university through strategic collaboration. College leadership met with Barb Kranz and Eric Boatman to articulate the pressing needs for facilities improvements for the Department of Art, Art History, and Design. We shared a program needs assessment with Barb and Eric that will shape conversations around space moving forward. The Arts Strategy is a University-level collaboration that the College hopes to facilitate with the Residential College for Arts and Humanities, the College of Music, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, the University Libraries and the Provost’s Office. The current University budget situation is the biggest hurdle to moving this project forward.

Arts and Humanities Extension – Since Fall 2019, we have worked in collaboration with MSU Extension to foster synergies and create infrastructure for an Arts & Humanities Extension. A focus of the work has included the formation of a joint task force, close work with the Extension’s Children and Youth Institute that was jump-started by COVID-19 needs, joint Virtual Culture Days in November 2020 and planned for March 2021, and task force participation in “Humanities Extended” a Spencer Foundation funded virtual conference to be hosted by Washington State University in March/April 2021.

Enhanced Digital Learning Initiative (EDLI) – As mentioned above, recognizing the leadership of the College’s EdTech team in facilitating the pivot to remote teaching and learning last March, MSU IT made a strategic investment in a cross-college collaboration that came to be called the Enhanced Digital Learning Initiative (EDLI). With a goal of developing and evaluating digital pedagogies and technologies to enhance student engagement in 21st century hybrid learning environments, EDLI seeks to leverage cross disciplinary collaboration through a partnership between the College of Arts & Letters, Broad College of Business, and the College of Natural Science. We continue to expand this partnership as EDLI creates structures and encourages collaboration that promote a values-based approach to excellence in teaching and learning. Our hope is that EDLI will establish a model of cross-College collaboration that can be integrated into a federated model to support a University-wide network of expertise in teaching and learning.

Center for Interdisciplinarity (C4I) Collaborations – In addition to its contribution to the research mission mentioned above, the C4I has active partnerships with AgBioResearch, CANR, Lyman Briggs College, the Graduate School, and the VPRI. The focus of this work is to help create the ideal conditions for MSU to become a national leader in interdisciplinary research. A university-wide lectures program presents popular events throughout the academic year that highlight interdisciplinary research on campus. Currently, the center is hosting an Interdisciplinary faculty fellows program with partnerships between CAL, CANR, and Lyman Briggs College. The program helps faculty members network and grow interdisciplinary connections in support of their research goals. The center also sponsors the Transdisciplinary Graduate Fellows Program, a mentored experience for Ph.D. students conducting community-engaged research with organizations beyond MSU. Current partners include the Greater Lansing Arts Council and the Food Bank Council of Michigan.

Medical Ethics and the Humanities – The Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences has been a leader in the field of medical humanities since the late 1970’s. In an era of global interconnectedness and persistent health disparities, Michigan State University’s land-grant mission must expand to embrace multidisciplinary efforts that draw the most sophisticated health sciences together with a deep humanistic understanding of the human condition to redress the most intractable challenges of health and society. The College of Arts & Letters and the College of Human Medicine have been working together to reimagine the role of the Center for Ethics and the Humanities in the Life Sciences as a catalyst for a broadly conceived and highly participatory health effort with energic outreach to communities and a specific focus on health disparities and inequity. We were very happy to have Sean Valles, Professor of Philosophy, named as the new Director of The Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences.

Reform Integrative Studies for our 21st Century Students – Along with the Colleges of Social Science and College of Natural Science, and the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, the College submitted a successful proposal to the ‘Cornerstone Learning for Living’ program jointly sponsored by the Teagle Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. With this planning grant, the College will convene a faculty learning community in the Spring 2021 semester that will plan a series of First Year Seminars, courses that will count for students first IAH course, which we will pilot in Fall 2021 semester. These seminars will draw from a list of ‘transformative texts’ centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion that the learning community formulates. By launching this pilot, the College will strengthen its long-standing collaboration with the other two core colleges as, together, we assess and analyze innovative approaches to general education—centered on DEI—at MSU.

iOS Design Lab and the Apple Development Academy – The College has been a co-creator of the iOS Design Lab since its inception and during Fall 2020 took on leadership of the initiative in collaboration with the Broad College of Business and MSU Libraries, as well as an emerging leadership collaboration with the College of Natural Science. The lab is connected to the Experience Architecture (XA) curriculum and provides a space for XA students to practice their craft. We hope to advance the success of the Apple Development Academy by connecting it to the iOS Design Lab and to our programs in XA and Graphic Design.

MESH/DH and the MSU LibrariesMESH is a collaborative effort of the MSU College of Arts and Letters (CAL) and the MSU Libraries focused on the futures of digital scholarly publishing. MESH focuses on research and development in digital scholarly communication, an area in which MSU can become a national and international leader. MESH is a collaborative, agile, open-source team that supports the growth of both the developer and the community facilitation networks needed to develop and sustain the platforms and tools that will comprise the 21st scholarly research and communication ecosystem.

Transformative Justice with CANR, POE, OIE – In the wake of the survivor impact statements in January of 2018, the College of Arts & Letters and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources began to work with Xhercis Mendez to establish a comprehensive approach to redressing harm at the University using the principles of Transformative Justice. Professor Mendez has worked with the leadership teams in both College’s to expand our capacity to respond to harm in ways that do not cause more harm by holding workshops, developing tool kits and protocols for chairs and directors, and working directly with units to establish trust and build community in the wake of harm. The Colleges are now working proactively with the Office of Institutional Equity and the Office of Prevention, Outreach, and Education to facilitate collaboration between Professor Mendez and Lydia Weiss, Climate & Response Specialist, to integrate Transformative Justice inflected approaches into the fabric of the MSU community.