University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Research and Creative Collaboratives represent some of the most innovative work at the University. These self-initiated groups come together with the idea of working on a project of common interest—be it the development of a performance piece, the exploration of a concept or research area through different disciplines, or the creation of a supportive intellectual community. With the Collaboratives, the IAS promotes synergistic interdisciplinary activity transcending departmental structures.

Past CollaborativesApplication ProceduresInformation for Conveners

plus10,000 Stories:
Minnesota Youth Make Media

Kari Smalkoski, Gender, Women, and Sexuality, CLA
Jigna Desai, Gender, Women, and Sexuality, CLA

Minnesota currently has one of the largest educational achievement gaps and currently ranks last in the U.S. for racial integration. Many conversations about disparity and opportunity emphasize prevention techniques, reform, grit and resilience, and interventions that are imbued in social and cultural deficits. We collaborate to imagine and create new models of education-based community engaged practice with youth. Firmly grounded in feminist, GLBTQ, and ethnic studies, this collaborative uses digital storytelling to empower youth as social change agents. We use narrative, digital media-making, and art to engage youth. We believe that having youth tell their stories, make arguments, and advocate for issues important to them frames youth as knowers, rather than deficits, and engages them more deeply in their own education and active participation in society. Additionally, we understand that there is no silver bullet that will solve the achievement gap or the vast disparities in Minnesota that have created it. Engaged collaboration with youth and educators takes time as trust and change must be fostered over time. We completed a pilot in Spring 2016 and will complete year one in Spring 2017; we are invested in continued work with our community partners and building relationships in 2018-9.

plusArTe [Art+Technology]

Diane Willow, Art, CLA
Lana Yarosh, Computer Science and Engineering, CSE

ArTe is focused on the articulation of an intercollegiate initiative that would situate the arts at the center of an art and technology initiative at the University of Minnesota. Our collaborative goal is to cultivate alliances across the Twin Cities campus and to engage participants in conversations about the dynamic potential for the arts to have a catalytic and collaborative role in creative research and curricula relationships with digital technologies in the sciences and engineering as well as design and architecture. Through a series of themed monthly conversations that convene faculty, staff and student participants we will propose and iterate on a series of conceptual and logistical forms that could be implemented on campus. To better leverage and expand the existing potentials for this initiative, ArTe, we will invite several guests, including funders, to talk with us about existing national initiatives. Complimenting this series of conversations, we would initiate a concurrent series of Interdisciplinary Collaborative Residencies. These would partner students from diverse disciplinary perspectives together to focus on single semester, project specific residencies in the eStudio.

plusBackyard Phenology:
Perceiving Cycles and Seasons in a Changing Climate

Christine Baeumler, Art, CLA
Steve Deitz, Northern Lights
Beth Mercer-Taylor, Institute on the Evironment
Rebecca Montgomery, Forest Resources, CFANS

(Phaino—Greek φαίνω (phainō), “to show, to bring to light, make to appear”)

This collaborative catalyzes a diverse array of faculty, students, and community members, from gardeners to ice fishers, to observe how changes in our own neighborhoods, backyards, parks, workplaces, commuter routes, and vacation spots reflect the effects of global climate change. These collective observations, publically shared, will provide important insights into how to mitigate, ameliorate and adapt to its consequences. Through this ambitious arts-focused phenological approach to climate change that sees past, present, and future through careful observation of seasons and cycles, we hope to include diverse narratives of place that contribute to our scientific understanding of climate-induced shifts in our world. Many people, animals, and plants, and even the landscape itself have been experiencing climate changes long before many of us have had to face those consequences. As witnesses to our neighborhood backyard climate change, we will engage in critical dialogues about local and global consequences.

plusFilm Arts and Culture in West Central Minnesota: Building a Regional, Cultural Community through a Town and Gown Collaboration

Barbara Burke, Communication, Media, & Rhetoric, U-Morris
David Ericksen, English, U-Morris
Anne Hennen-Barber, Morris Public Library Director

Despite the availability of entertainment on a variety of personal devices, collective film viewing in a theatre remains a popular pastime, a way to build collective culture, a method of creative expression for artists and storytellers, and a possible way to develop regional tourism in smaller Minnesota communities. This collaborative explores and attempts to understand and expand the influence of films and movies in West Central Minnesota and the surrounding areas, served by small theatres and other venues showing film. The collaborative will involve several community participants, and will be especially timely because the summer of 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Morris Theatre Cooperative, run by a group of community members/volunteers who are maintaining the local Art Nouveau movie house (and only movie theatre in the county).

plusFocus on Greater Minnesota

Roger Rose, Center for Small Towns, U-Morris
Kelly Asche, Center for Small Towns, U-Morris
Benjamin Winchester, Community Vitality, College of Extension
David Fluegel, Regional Partnerships, College of Extension

The Center for Small Towns at UM Morris seeks to establish a research collaborative among the faculty and staff of UM Morris and that of UM Extension and the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDPs). The goal of the collaborative will be to bring the applied expertise of the RSDPs and UM Extension to the Morris campus to discuss research opportunities on pressing rural and regional issues. The collaborative is expected to produce specific projects and an ongoing working group on rural needs and voices. During the 2017-8 year, the collaborative will feature four “dinner dialogues” on pressing issues within four broad subject areas—likely to be food systems and sustainability, rural economic development, rural health and well-being and building social capital—followed by a specific evening talk, delivered by guest speakers and open to the campus and the public. In addition, the collaborative will host follow-up luncheons for members to discuss and develop specific research initiatives and projects as well as a session on grant funding opportunities. Beyond the formation of an ongoing research group at UMM, we expect this collaborative will generate research projects that will both benefit and engage communities and organizations from West Central MN.

plusFrom Page to Stage:
Spring Awakening

Ray Schultz, Theatre Arts, U-Morris
Stephen Carey, German, U-Morris
Stephanie Ferrian, Dance, U-Morris
Katie Rowles-Perich, Theatre Arts, U-Morris

This IAS Collaborative seeks to use a contemporary piece of musical theater, the 2006 rock musical Spring Awakening, that is based on a seminal piece of modern dramatic literature, Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play of the same name, as a springboard to allow for conversations that explore the intersection of various disciplines and subjects. What makes this Collaborative significant is not only the choice of this particular musical, but also how Spring Awakening will serve as the cornerstone for interdisciplinary collaborations and activities that will encompass scholarly, artistic, and curricular spheres. Theatre—and particularly musical theatre—represents a particularly fertile locus for interdisciplinary collaboration and the intersections of arts and letters and beyond.

product designplusHistorical Injustices:
The Working Group

Yuichiro Onishi, African American & African Studies, CLA
Catherine Squires, Communication Studies, CLA
Hana Maruyama, American Studies, CLA
Ezekiel Joubert, Curriculum and Instruction, CEHD
John Matsunaga, Asian American Studies, CLA

Our Collaborative engages with the theme of historical injustices in the context of the state of Minnesota. It features two components that are interrelated: (1) the University of Minnesota’s ties to slavery and (2) wartime Japanese American history in Minnesota in the context of settler colonialism and incarceration. The conveners and participants will bring a sense of settler colonial and racial histories to our institutional home through collaborative research, creative practice, curriculum development, and community engagement. We operate with the proposition that an inquiry into historical injustices matters. We are living in new times, where key political challenges still unmet, namely decolonization and racial justice, are being brought into the fold as vectors of resistance. Under these circumstances, we will do well to hone the perspective of longue durée. We propose to rework our historical groundings from this place and learn how to reckon with deeply colonial/racial pasts still living in the present. This work is not about assigning guilt, nor fostering victimization and resentment. It has everything to do with working through matters concerning justice and responsibility. For this, our Collaborative, Historical Injustices, defines itself as The Working Group.

plusMusic and Sound Studies Graduate Interdisciplinary Student Group

Joseph Nelson, School of Music, CLA
Mikkel Vad, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, CLA
Matthew Treon, American Studies, CLA
Sumanth Gopinath, School of Music, CLA

The Music and Sound Studies (MSS) group, an interdisciplinary collaborative, works to explore sound and music as acoustic phenomena and practices affecting humans and our environment. We support our members’ work through reading groups on topics ranging from Music Theory to Sound Technologies, bringing in speakers to present on their work, and collaborating with groups such as the MIMS graduate student organization on their Halloween film series. Our membership draws on multiple disciplines and departments that include Music Composition, Musicology, Music Theory, Cultural Studies, and American Studies, and we regularly collaborate with other departments in supporting events that expand the increasingly vital subject of Sound Studies. Besides the activities of our working groups, we held two colloquia in the fall and spring where students presented their research, hosting keynote speakers who offered feedback on student projects. In 2017-18 we will hold our first conference, and seek to expand both our reading groups and collaborative activities, including film screenings and tours of our recording studio.

plusNarrative/Medicine: Personal Narrative Analysis across the Liberal Arts and Medical Practice

Mary Jo Maynes, History, CLA
Leslie Morris, German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, CLA

This collaborative will explore the emerging field of narrative medicine, with a focus on illness narratives in particular. Philosophers, cultural critics, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and scholars and practitioners of medicine have all turned their attention in recent years to exploring the intersections between experiences of bodily pain, trauma, and illness and the creation of narratives to describe and grapple with these experiences. More broadly, scholars in liberal arts fields, and increasingly the social sciences as well, are engaging with personal narratives (such as memoirs, diaries, letters, and oral histories) as objects of study or sources of evidence. Personal narratives are of interest as particular literary genres but are also sources of privileged insight into the relationship between the individual and the social. Our research collaborative will continue this foundational interdisciplinary work on personal narrative and bring it to bear specifically on the production and analysis of personal narratives of illness and trauma.

plusStates of Incarceration

Kevin Murphy, History, CLA
Jean O’Brien, History, CLA
Katherine Hayes, Anthropology, CLA

The States of Incarceration Collaborative is engaged in public-history programming around the enormous problem of mass incarceration in the United States. As a founding member of the Humanities Action Lab based at the New School in New York (composed of twenty universities across the U.S.), the University of Minnesota team investigates the problem of Native American incarceration in historical and contemporary contexts to enrich a national dialogue and traveling exhibition on mass incarceration produced by the HAL collective. We will support the installation of the exhibition at the Hennepin History Museum in June 2018 and develop programming around it, including featuring prominent Native artists whose creative work takes up the larger themes of incarceration in historical and contemporary contexts.

plusThinking and Organizing at the Margins of Traditional Housing

Eric Goldfischer, Geography, Environment, and Society, CLA
Teresa Gowan, Sociology, CLA

This collaborative produces a unique space from which scholars, activists, policy makers, and engaged citizens will consider the struggle for the right to housing from multiple geographic and political locations. Homelessness, eviction, squatters’ rights, and the right to land all find their way into fruitful interdisciplinary scholarship, much of which links these struggles to broader questions of belonging, governance, and exclusion. Meanwhile, housing activists around the globe address many of these same root problems, but from a grounded space of community organizing, in which organizers deploy popular education to help those immediately affected by the exclusions which occur at the margins of traditional housing situate themselves in broader fights for justice. Much of the work around these intertwined topics from those within and outside of the academy runs along parallel tracks; this collaborative aims to bring them closer together. Through regular meetings, public events/workshops, and a conference, the collaborative will create a crucial space for producing new knowledge at a specific site, one which has only grown in importance with the rise of fascist politics which disproportionately affect those already marginalized away from traditional housing.