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Moving beyond boundaries

Picasso didn’t see a distinction between painting and pottery; both, he believed, were the result of the impulse to create. Einstein considered theoretical physics foremost as an act of imagination, and claimed imagination to be greater than knowledge. inaline-1And, scientific theorist Thomas Kuhn observed discoveries and breakthroughs are consequences of a shifting paradigm –- a new model of understanding and explaining the world.

Aiming to encourage U-M students to discover paradigms and imaginative ways of thinking about their field of study and lives, a new academic-social-cultural program is attracting students from all over campus.

This fall, Living Arts – a living-learning environment – opened in Bursley Hall on North Campus.  The decidedly digital age, 21st-century open-ended dorm setting has attracted a range of students with one common interest – exploring creative possibilities.belltower

The living-learning program is among the first of its kind among American universities. It’s also the latest example of U-M’s emphasis on encouraging students to think outside the proverbial box, and take on challenges with an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit.

“This brings a new dynamic to living and learning at Michigan, and sets a standard for the entire country,” said David Munson (right),dmunsondean of U-M’s College of Engineering, located on North Campus along with School of Art & Design, School of Information, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

“Catalyzing the creative, intuitive, analytical and intellectual, the program will provide a unique experience in trans-disciplinary collaborations among students and faculty,” said Munson.

Dedicated dorm space has been transformed into classrooms and study lounges along with studios. For the students’ reaction to Living Arts, please click on the video below.

“Living Arts allows us to realize the enormous collaborative potential among our stellar arts, architecture and engineering units and across the university,” said E. Royster Harper, (right) vice president for student affairs.royster

Along with dedication to traditional academics, playfulness, wonder and open-mindedness are prerequisites for learning.

Living Arts aims to be anything, but traditional.

While the creative process may be a mystery, less uncertain is the type of environment that fosters creativity, from an expressive painting, to a groundbreaking mathematical formulation, to a feat of engineering precision, said Theresa Reid, executive director of Arts on Earth, sponsors of Living Arts. A campus-wide initiative, Arts on Earth produces provocative multi-media symposiums exploring relationships among the arts and other disciplines.metals

“We’re providing an open, playful, interdisciplinary residential community that enables students to pursue the kind of risky insights that might not occur in a traditional classroom environment,” said Reid.

The credo, she said, is unequivocally hip: Live. Learn. Create.

NOTE: Jean Leverich, an advisor for the Newnan LSA Academic Advising Center, is Director of Living Arts.

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