IAS Top corners

IAS Research and Creative Collaboratives

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.

Applications for 2020-2021 IAS Research and Creative Collaboratives are currently open with a deadline of January 31st, 2020. To learn more about the application process, please click here.

For a text list of all past IAS Research and Creative Collaborative conveners, please click here

Policy, administrative, and procedure information for current conveners can be found here.

Creative Collaboratives


Aaron R. Boyson, Department of Communication, CLA, Duluth
Michael Pfau, Department of Communication, CLA, Duluth
New research specifies how climate change is predicted to disproportionately affect the Duluth-Superior community, but not for the same reasons many others will be affected. Work by Dr. Jesse Keenan from Harvard predicts that the Duluth/Superior area will be one of the most felicitous locations for people displaced by the negative effects of climate change, owing in part to its cooler climate, abundant fresh water, existing infrastructure, including a strong education system, and well-educated population. Communicating in advance about the implications of the dislocation and relocation of national “refugees” is critical across economic, environmental, social, and social psychological lines. An interdisciplinary and interinstitutional collaboration of scholars that has been meeting together for more than three years to study the Anthropocene seeks to consider fully this expectation. The collaboration this year spans across three colleges within the University of Minnesota Duluth and will include scholars from three institutions in our area (UMD, University of Wisconsin-Superior, and Lake Superior College). We intend to capitalize on a spring campus visit this semester to UMD by Dr. Keenan, extend previous community engagement efforts, and advance on an emerging framework for an edited volume on the climate refugee crisis.


Soo Hyun Jackelen, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, CLA, TC
Soyi Kim, Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature, CLA, TC
Travis Workman, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies, CLA, TC
Hiromi Mizuno, History, CLA, TC
Area studies has been deeply entwined with the Cold War politics, and Korean studies is one of the most exemplary cases. Despite area studies’ emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach, the central focus of Korean studies has long been ensnared in the politically focused issues. This collective attempts to develop its concern about Korean studies’ limited validation into a structural question of U.S. area studies, by expanding the scope of research of Korean studies to more diversified areas concerning culture and media, with emphasis on the issues of gender and violence. This project underlines the fact that sexual violence and institutional violence in modern Korean history are closely entangled in the way Korean studies has been confined, stereotyped, and isolated in the hegemonic view derived from the Cold War system, as with many other branches of area studies that share a colonial memory. We challenge this view through organizing various activities, including a reading group and film screenings, which will be open to the public.

Perry L. Moriearty, Law School, TC
Rebecca Shlafer, Department of Pediatrics, AHC, TC
Daniel McCarthy Clifford, Visual Artist, Weisman Art Museum
Incarceration affects the lives of millions through exploitative and discriminatory practices in various forms of carceral control, and its “collateral damage” extends to families and communities. The goal of this collaboration is to identify what the University of Minnesota, as a major and influential academic institution, can do to address the crisis. Leaders from the Law School, Academic Health Center, Weisman Art Museum, and other University stakeholders will explore how the University can reverse the ripple effect of incarceration by creating a more just approach to supporting citizens with criminal records and their communities. Through research, and collaboration with scholars, advocates, state and county officials, and those currently impacted, we will define how the University can transform the collateral consequences of incarceration into opportunities for economic mobility, individual growth, and societal change.

Kari Smalkoski, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, CLA, TC
Jigna Desai, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, CLA, TC
Vernon Rowe, Northeast Middle School
Nicole Ramos, Parkway Montessori Middle School
As an interdisciplinary collaborative, we are investigating new ways to tell the nuanced stories behind educational benchmark statistics about Twin Cities urban public school students. This praxis begins with an imperative need to understand the experiences of youth from their own perspectives. Since 2016, our inter-collegiate, community collaboration has integrated interdisciplinary digital humanities with community engagement as we harness the power of storytelling as a process and product to amplify youths’ voices. Firmly grounded in feminist, LGBTQ, and ethnic studies, our program creates opportunities for youth to express themselves through art, movement, and spoken word workshops to address questions of identity, inequality, and representation. Our collaborative is grounded in four unique factors: a critical race and feminist studies curriculum, the power of storytelling, enhancement of digital skills, and furthering college-positive culture through establishing relationships with underrepresented middle school and undergraduate mentors. As an initiative that grows and sustains relationships with entire schools, we have collaborated for three years with a St. Paul public school and one year with a Minneapolis public school. A core goal of our collaborative is to impact individual and institutional change through youth advocacy. Click here to visit their website, learn more about the project, and read stories!

Matthew Tchepikova-Treon, American Studies, CLA, TC
Dzmitry Tsapkou, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, CLA, TC
Maggie Hennefeld, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, CLA, TC
Olga Tchepikova-Treon, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, CLA, TC
Graeme Stout, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, CLA, TC
The Moving Image & Media Studies Graduate Group (MIMSGG) is a student-operated collective working in film and audiovisual media with membership drawing from numerous UMN departments. In collaboration with faculty, production professionals, and other academic groups, we have built an active scholarly community, created research opportunities for graduate students, and organized public events throughout the Twin Cities, including an academic conference, the MIMSGG Film Screening Series, film projection workshops, reading groups, collaborative research on audiovisual technologies, and the production of original work in a multitude of disciplines. Operating at a university with no central department dedicated to graduate-level film and audiovisual media studies/production, yet where such work thrives within many distinct areas across campus, including departments outside the humanities, MIMSGG exists as an active resource for students and faculty to organize events, share research, and work collaboratively. Additionally, as an organization operating within a land-grant institution, MIMSGG steadily works to create opportunities for connecting with communities beyond our campus. We are renewing with the IAS Collaborative Program to continue expanding our group as well as our collective efforts to engage with film and media as both an object of study and a tool for interdisciplinary scholarship.

Mary Jo MaynesHistory, CLA, TC
Leslie Morris, German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch, CLA, TC
Scholars from a range of disciplines, along with practitioners in medicine, psychology, and other forms of healing or therapy, have turned their attention in recent years to intersections between experiences pain or trauma and the creation of narratives to describe and grapple with these experiences. More broadly, scholars in the humanities, and increasingly the social sciences as well, are engaging with personal narratives (such as memoirs, diaries, and oral histories) as objects of study or sources of evidence. Personal narratives are of interest as literary genres and as sources of insight into the relationship between the individual and the social. Our research collaborative centers on interdisciplinary work with such narratives, specifically on the production and analysis of personal narratives of illness and trauma. Our scope has broadened somewhat as a result of our first year of presentations and discussions. Along with our examination of narratives recounting experiences of illness, we are now also engaging with narratives that recount the experiences of medical practitioners and educators, historically and in the present. Some participants have also workshopped works of fiction, literature and art at the intersection of narrative and medicine.

Ellen Anderson, Energy Transition Lab, IonE, TC
Jamez Staples, Renewable Energy Partners
Akisha Everett, Energy Transition Lab, IonE, TC
The North Minneapolis Clean Energy Engagement Project is a collaboration with the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment’s Energy Transition Lab; Renewable Energy Partners (REP), a minority-owned renewable energy company in North Minneapolis; and community-based organizing partners. The Neighborhood Hub organizing partners will engage community members in exploring opportunities in clean-energy deployment and career-track technical training, through public meetings and events, connecting with clean-energy experts, and interacting with state, local, and federal elected decision-makers. An emerging cohort of local clean-energy leaders will be developed and coached to be “champions” for beneficial community energy solutions, developing capacity among local residents of color, black, Latino, native, and other underrepresented groups, so they are well positioned to understand and advance clean energy opportunities in North Minneapolis. The Energy Transition Lab and REP’s goals for a community-scale microgrid and advanced energy training center will gain valuable momentum through this capacity-building.

Jeanne Kilde, Religious Studies Program, CLA, TC
Virajita Singh, Office of Equity and Diversity, TC
The role of religion on public university campuses has changed significantly in the 21st century as religious identity has been afforded increasing significance in the intersectional selves of students, faculty, and staff. While this is a positive development for many, changing attitudes toward religion have also spurred conflict and raised challenges that in some cases administrators are at a loss to address. The Religion and the Public University collaborative will bring together faculty, staff, and graduate students from several Twin Cities and coordinate campus units of the University of Minnesota to research the historical, legal, and sociological scholarship on the religion/public university relationship and to use that material to provide context for discussions and deliberations that it will host, aimed at disseminating information

Boris Oicherman, Weisman Art Museum
Shanai Matteson, Water Bar and Public Studio
The Institute on the Environment (IonE), Weisman Art Museum, and Water Bar and Public Studio collaborate on establishing a community of artists, scientists, healing practitioners, poets, architects, scholars of culture, thinkers, craftsmen and others to learn together how to feel, think, know, read, and taste water. In a series of regular study sessions we are exploring the environmental, the indigenous, the experiential, the scientific, the poetic, the communal, and other aspects of water. The knowledge gained in the process will lay the foundation of a collaborative study (research and pedagogy) model that yields critical changes to educational curricula as well as new paradigms for research, artistic development, and public engagement. The communal experience of learning will be the foundation of future collaborations between the participating practitioners of all professions as the participants discover shared interests across disciplines and sectors. The documentation of the process and the transcribed conversations will provide materials for a book, shared in academic settings, as well as in art, public and community forums.

    • Backyard Phenology: Perceiving Cycles and Seasons in a Changing Climate

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

    This IAS 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, publicly shared, 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, 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.
    Conveners and Participants

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


    • 10,000 Stories: Minnesota Youth Make Media

    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.

    Kari Smalkoski: Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, CLA, Twin Cities
    Jigna Desai: Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, CLA, Twin Cities


    • ArTe [Art+Technology]

    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.

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


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

    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). 

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


    • Focus on Greater Minnesota

    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.

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

    • From Page to Stage: Spring Awakening

    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.

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


    • Historical Injustices: The Working Group

    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.

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

    • Music and Sound Studies Graduate Interdisciplinary Student Group

    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.

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


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

    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.

    MJ Maynes: History, CLA, Twin Cities
    Leslie Morris: German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, CLA, Twin Cities


    • States of Incarceration

    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.

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


    • Thinking and Organizing at the Margins of Traditional Housing

    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.

    Eric Goldfischer: Geography, Environment, and Society, CLA, Twin Cities
    Teresa Gowan: Sociology, CLA, Twin Cities


  • Physical Computing and the Internet of Things

Conveners and Participants:

Lucy Dunne: Design, Housing, and Apparel, CDES

Barry Kudrowitz: Product Design, CDES

Loren Terveen: Computer Science and Engineering, CSE

Diane Willow: Art, CLA

Lana Yarosh: Computer Science and Engineering, CSE

  • Backyard Phenology: Perceiving Cycles and Seasons in a Changing Climate

Conveners and Participants:

Christine Baeumler: Art, CLA

Beth Mercer-Taylor: Institute on the Environment

Rebecca Montgomery: Forest Resources, CFANS

Steve Dietz: Northern Lights

  • Clean Energy Access

Conveners and Participants:

Massoud Amin: Technological Leadership Institute, CSE

Cameran Bailey: Public Affairs

Thomas Fisher: Metropolitan Design, CDES

Hari Osofsky: Law, Twin Cities

  • Digital Games and Learning

Conveners and Participants:

Edward Downs: Communications, CLA (Duluth)

NIcolaas VanMeerten: Educational Psychology, CEHD

Keisha Varma: Educational Psychology, CEHD

Lana Yarosh: Computer Science, CSE

  • Digital Storytelling for Youth Empowerment

Conveners and Participants:

Jigna Desai: GWSS, CLA

Kari Smolkoski: GWSS, CLA

  • Fused Realities II

Conveners and Participants:

David Gore: Communication, CLA, Duluth

Randy Hanson: GUESS, CLA, Duluth

Kathryn Milun: Anthropology, CLA, Duluth

  • Inclusive Game Design

Conveners and Participants:

David Beard: Writing Studies, CLA, Duluth

Elizabeth LaPensee: U Mich.

Nicolaas VanMeerten: Educational Psychology, CEHD

  • Mapping Inquiries into Mind and Consciousness Across the Academy

Conveners and Participants:

Michael Maratsos: Child Psychology, CEHD

Thomas Wolfe: History, CLA

  • The Pharmaceutical Nexus: Interdisciplinary Conversations and Methodologies

Conveners and Participants:

Margaret (Macey) Flood: History of Medicine, Medical School

Sophia Strosberg: Geography, Environment, and Society, CLA

Dominique Tobbell: History of Medicine, Medical School

  • Philosophies of Life

Conveners and Participants:

Suvadip Sinha: Asian Languages and Literature, CLA

Travis Workman: Asian Languages and Literature, CLA

  • Researching for Indigenous Community Health

Conveners and Participants:

Derek Jennings: Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Science, CoP, Duluth

Michelle Johnson-Jennings: RICH/PPPS, CoP, Duluth


  • Building Collaborative Capacity in Equity and Diversity

Tammy Berberi, Equity, Diversity & Intercultural Programs; French Discipline, Morris
Adrienne Conley, Student Life and LGBTQIA2S+ Programs, Morris

We aim to continue developing our capacities (individual and collective) in becoming more intersectional in our research and perspectives as teacher-scholars, mentors, and colleagues working in rural Minnesota. We will dedicate a year to researching identities, practices, and skills that are not exclusively white, Western, European, ableist, and normative, but rather inclusive of indigenous, disabled, queer and trans of color, in the interests of sustaining and strengthening relationships and developing holistic and universally-designed support for campus and local communities that are increasingly diverse. We think of ourselves as a generative learning and idea lab for new possibility in equity and diversity that is grown here and is deeply rooted in an evolving sense of Morris’ history, its place, and its future.

  • Minnesota Youth Story Squad

Jigna Desai, Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies, CLA, Twin Cities
Vernon Rowe, Northeast Middle School, Minneapolis
Kari Smalkoski, Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

Storytelling can be transformative. It increases self-esteem and self-advocacy, especially for those who are underrepresented; it also creates empathy across differences. We seek to harness the power of storytelling as a process and a product to empower youth in underserved public K-12 schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We collaborate to imagine and create new models of education-based community-engaged practice with middle school youth. Firmly grounded in feminist, GLBTQ, and ethnic studies, this collaborative uses art, narrative, and storytelling workshops to discuss questions of identity, inequality, and advocacy with urban youth. Storytelling is empowering and transformative for both the story tellers and the story listeners. We work with public school youth to facilitate self-awareness, empathy, and advocacy for issues important to them. Engaged collaboration with youth and educators takes time as trust and change must be fostered over time. We have worked for two years with a St. Paul public school and have expanded to add a new Minneapolis public school partner beginning in 2018.

  • Food Sovereignty and Student Success

Mary Jo Forbord, Morris Healthy Eating Initiative, Morris
Alex Kmett, Student Affairs, Morris
Amy Mondloch, Center for Small Towns, Morris
Ryan Pesch, MNEXT Community Vitality, Extension, Twin Cities 


The Center for Small Towns at UM Morris is pleased to establish a research collaborative among the faculty and staff of UM Morris, UM Extension, nonprofit and tribal college partners. The goals of the collaborative is to increase understanding of Native food sovereignty and build access, skills, and partnerships supporting physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. The right of indigenous nations to define their own diets and shape food systems that are congruent with their spiritual and cultural values goes hand in hand with physical, mental, and emotional health. Increased understanding of Native food sovereignty, including seed saving, food preparation and storage, gardening, and the socio-cultural and historical importance of food harvest and preparation methods provides a stronger sense of place and wellbeing for both Native and non-Native students and provides tools to support physical, mental, and emotional health. The collaborative will provide three field trips for students, faculty, and staff to exchange ideas and experiences with partners with the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations, as well as four opportunities to host public presentations on the UMM campus.


  • Historical Injustices: The Working Group

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

The centennial history of the University of Minnesota casts its founders, all white men with power, as champions of liberal education. “Stubbornly inspired by what seems almost like a paranoid delusion of grandeur,” James Gray wrote in The University of Minnesota, 1851-1951, “they talked of a place of learning so richly endowed ‘that it would put Harvard in the shade’.” These men, he added, “reappear again and again on lists of candidates for high office, on boards of the major enterprises, and on the roster of university regents” (14). This so-called “paranoid delusion of grandeur,” of course, catalyzed settler colonialism toward Dakota people and their land. Gray acknowledged: “In February 1851, when the legislature thoughtfully stroked its collective beard and created the university... [a]ll but a small eastern triangle of its lands belonged to the Indians” (13). In our collaborative’s second year, we  set out to write a counter-history—in the form of short biographies—to unsettle this narrative of becoming, the fraternity of white manhood that sits at the core of state and university formations.

  • Memory, Trauma, and Human Rights at the Crossroads of Art and Science

Brian Engdahl, Neuroscience, Medical School, Twin Cities
Ofelia Ferran, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, CLA, Twin Cities
Ana Forcinito, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

This research collaborative is part of a broader project that brings together 19 team members from the University, community, and research institutions abroad to better understand the impacts of traumatic memory upon individuals and societies and to critically engage the issues of how we come to terms with and heal from trauma, seek accountability for human rights abuses that led to severe trauma, and mitigate future traumatization. Together we will explore how a more interdisciplinary understanding of memory and traumatization can illuminate pathways between artistic production and healing. A full understanding of trauma and its implications in modern society needs to address its individual and social dimensions, and place therapeutic and artistic work, critical cultural analysis and scientific modelling/experimentation, sociological/historical study, and medical practice in dialogue. Our project brings together, for the first time at the University, recognized leaders in all these fields in a sustained manner that will lead to vigorous intellectual exchange and important peer-reviewed publications, curricular development that foments co-teaching across departments, and community outreach. Our plan this year is to invite two major scholars and one artist to present their work at our workshop and begin a sustained engagement with our project.

  • Moving Image & Media Studies Interdisciplinary Graduate Group

ana Gierden, German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, CLA, Twin Cities
Margaret Hennefeld, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, CLA, Twin Cities
Jen Hughes, Anthropology, CLA, Twin Cities
Olga Tchepikova, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, CLA, Twin Cities
Matthew Treon, American Studies, CLA, Twin Cities 

The Moving Image and Media Studies Graduate Group provides an interdisciplinary forum for graduate students and faculty with shared interests in the scholarship, technologies, artistic practices, critical theory, and teaching central to the study and production of moving images and media. Over two years of rapidly growing membership, we have developed a group that serves as an active resource for bringing together many individuals and energies already dedicated to working with moving images and media across the Twin Cities campus. Moving forward as an IAS Collaborative, we aim to create more opportunities for graduate student involvement in the organization of special events, recurring activities, and research collaborations that speak to current trends and questions in a diverse range of related fields associated with our group, as well as our members’ own work. Moreover, in our drive to further connect our campus and our community, we also plan to expand our active involvement with local, non-academic film and media resources. For this, we propose a variety of activities that support our members’ research and further our diverse interests through closer associations with both academic and non-academic experts, institutions, and spaces.

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

MJ Maynes, History, CLA, Twin Cities
Leslie Morris, German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, CLA, Twin Cities

The IAS Research Collaborative “Narrative/Medicine: Personal Narrative Analysis across the Liberal Arts and Medical Practice,” launched in Fall 2017. Cultural critics, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and scholars and practitioners of medicine have all turned their attention in recent years to 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 the humanities, 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 centers on interdisciplinary work on personal narrative and brings it to bear specifically on the production and analysis of personal narratives of illness and trauma. However, our scope has broadened somewhat as a result of our first semester of presentations and discussions. We are now also engaging with narratives that recount the experiences of medical practitioners and educators, in addition to narratives recounting experiences of illness.

  • Queer Forms

Howard Oransky, Art, CLA, Twin Cities
Christina Schmid, Art, CLA, Twin Cities
In May 1969 students at the University of Minnesota offered a class titled “The Homosexual Revolution” at the nearby Free University. The class then reconfigured itself as FREE (Fight Repression of Erotic Expression)—the first GLBT university student organization in the country. In June 1969 the New York City Police Department was met with six days of open resistance and protests when they raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. These events helped galvanize the struggle for GLBTQ liberation. Fifty years later the University of Minnesota will present Queer Forms, a multi-disciplinary collaboration that includes exhibitions and artistic projects, academic and intellectual programs, performance, outreach, community health, and a research-based publication. These activities investigate and celebrate the history, politics and culture of GLBTQ liberation across a range of artistic forms and intellectual perspectives. Convened in 2015, the collaborative planning team currently includes the American Studies Department, Art Department, Boynton Health Service, Chicano and Latino Studies Department, Communication Studies Department, Heritage Studies and Public History, History Department, Minnesota AIDS Project, Office for Public Engagement, Playwright’s Center, Theatre Arts and Dance Department, Twin Cities Pride, University Libraries, Walker Art Center and consultants in Indiana, Minnesota and New York.

  • Reviving the Gendered Ethics Debate: The Case of Agonism

Max Hui Bai, Psychology, CLA, Twin Cities
Daniel Demetriou, Philosophy, Humanities, Morris
Alexander Kachan, Psychology, Education and Human Service Professions, Duluth 

This IAS Collaborative spans three U of M campuses and two disciplines to facilitate collaborative research on gender, agonism, and moral psychology. Since Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice (1982), psychologists have debated the reality and nature of gender differences in moral reasoning. Whereas most studies have tested for gender differences on the dimensions of “justice” and “care,” we introduce competitive (or “agonistic”) norms into the discussion. Agonistic norms, which stress competitiveness but also prohibit bullying, unfair play, and disrespecting opponents, are increasingly recognized as “moral” norms by ethicists. This new development in ethics hasn’t yet been accounted for by empirical psychologists studying gender differences in “moral” reasoning, and we—one philosopher and two psychologists—wish to close that gap. This collaborative brings us together to workshop reports of our findings and present our work to faculty and students at UMTC, UMD, and UMM. It also will afford us the opportunity to bring in a notable moral psychologist who will advise us on our research and give a public talk on a related topic.