Announcing the 2021–2022 IAS Research and Creative Collaboratives!


We are delighted to announce the IAS Research and Creative Collaboratives for 2021–2022.

These self-initiated groups represent some of the most innovative work at the University. Their work—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—exemplifies synergistic interdisciplinary activity, and transcends departmental structures. We are thrilled to support this work!


Big River Continuum

  • Rebecca Dallinger, Itasca Biological Station, CBA
  • Boris Oicherman, Weisman Art Museum
  • Jonathan Schilling, Plant & Microbial Biology; Itasca Biological Station & Labs, CBS
  • Monique Verdin, Artist Bvlbuncha (St. Bernard Parish), Louisiana

Solutions to environmental problems are as social and political as they are scientific, requiring collaboration between the public, the science community and policy makers. We spend significant effort in environmental science, however, focusing on regulation rather than on civic engagement and assuming public science illiteracy (deficit model). This may further polarize people, particularly across a growing rural-urban divide. To address this, our collaborative aims 1) to engage rural communities, artists and scientists together in creative experiences, and 2) to study the shared process of cohort development. Our Mississippi-long program is based at the Itasca Biological Station at the Mississippi River headwaters and is linked through the Twin Cities to Tulane University at the Mississippi delta. The collaborative involves co-creation that combines Indigenous perspectives with sciences, arts, policy, planning, and organizing. This river engagement ‘platform’ can be the foundation for future, larger cross-sector environmental initiatives, and it will help establish a rural cohort with an equitable and active link to our University. This, we feel, is a good fit for the IAS model for community engagement, with an effort that would be impossible in any single unit at the University of Minnesota.


Cultural Colloquium of Collaboration

  • Kate Derickson, Geography, Environment, and Society, CLA
  • Queen Quet, Gullah/Geechee Nation

Cultural Colloquium of Collaboration will be an interdisciplinary community collaboration focused on using culturally relevant methodologies to inform academic field studies.   This series will be devoted to enhancing respectful and effective BIPOC community engagement.  It will build on the collaborative methodologies presented in the book, “WEBE Gullah/Geechee: Cultural Capital & Collaboration Anthology” edited by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation who was the UMN Winton Chair for Fall 2020.  She will convene this series with her partner that directs the CREATE Fellowship, Dr. Kate Derickson.  They have taught a course in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society that bears the same name as the anthology.


Fostering Understanding and Promoting Inclusion for Individuals with Disabilities

  • Yue Wu, Rehabilitation Medicine, Medical School
  • Philip Shorey, Composer

We envision a future that embraces the diversity and inclusion of people with disabilities in society, whether they are in school, working or simply living in the community. The goal is to develop a performance piece illuminating the experience of people with disabilities in a model centered in art. The collaborative team includes colleagues from the University of Minnesota Medical School, Center for Allied Health Programs, Institute on Community Integration, School of Music, and other community stakeholders from Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and MacPhail Center for Music. This interdisciplinary collaboration between the University departments and community organizations will explore how embracing individuals with disabilities can enrich the learning and research environment within the University and the community at large. As an interdisciplinary collaborative, this project will investigate new ways to capture the nuanced stories of the emotional journey of families who have children with disabilities. Our collaborative is grounded in three unique factors: the rich foundation of research and advocacy from the Institute on Community Integration, the power of storytelling through music and creative arts, and the potential long-term partnership between the University and community.


Gender and Violence: Korea and Beyond

  • Insil Jeon, Curriculum and Instruction, CEHD
  • Eunice Kim, History, CLA
  • Tanner Rogers, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, CLA
  • Travis Workman, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, CLA
  • Hiromi Mizuno, History, CLA

GVKab examines how hyper-developmentalism, the capitalist labor market, gender-based oppression, and racialized anti-immigrant sentiment are represented in academia and popular culture as a result of Cold War geopolitics in East Asia. Through interdisciplinary engagement, GVKab aims to critically interrogate how the Korean Peninsula came to be a significant spatial and temporal space for investigating such oppressive legacies. By bringing in scholars and researchers from various fields such as Sociology, History, Journalism, and Korean Studies, combined with regular literary and film discussions, GVKab will unpack the complexities of Cold War ideologies and their specific relations to the hierarchical violence and oppression that continue to manifest in cultural, economic and political systems on the Korean Peninsula.  


Indigenous Good Birth Project

  • Bridget Basile Ibrahim, University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health
  • Lou Clark, Academic Clinical Affairs & Division of General Internal Medicine, Medical School
  • Katy Backes Kozhimannil, University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center, Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health

The purpose of this creative-research collaborative is to describe what makes “a good birth” for Indigenous women in rural Minnesota and to contribute toward improving birth equity. This project will conduct original research and translate the findings of this research into a creative dramatic performance and a set of training materials to train maternity care clinicians in culturally-centered care. Semi-structured interviews will take place in two rural Indigenous communities where we have identified community partners. Thorne’s interpretive description approach will guide the qualitative data analysis.  Anne Lyerly’s A Good Birth will serve as a conceptual framework for data interpretation.  Utilizing healthcare simulation methodology, UMN’s M Simulation team will adapt the data to design and implement human simulation training scenarios for learners to role play with standardized/simulated patients (SPs). Additionally, participant narratives will be curated and crafted into an educational script produced for public performances featuring the SPs as actors. This exploratory and descriptive creative-research collaboration aims to improve scientific knowledge and clinical practice by filling knowledge gaps related to Indigenous maternal health equity and to train maternity care clinicians to provide culturally-centered care. 


Interpreting collards greens, soil and cultural histories through the lens of the Black experience: a visual art exhibit

  • Tiffany LaShae, Soil, Water, and Climate, CFANS
  • Terresa Moses, Graphic Design, College of Design
  • Nic Jelinski, Soil, Water, and Climate, CFANS

This project will integrate a scientific study on the effects of different soil types and soil amendments on collard greens with cultural perspectives on collard greens, soil management, land, natural history, and racial justice, through the development of a visual arts exhibit. Because collard greens connect people of African descent born in America to a stolen history, social identity, triumph, survival, and freedom, it is critical to conduct scientific studies on collard greens through a cultural lens. This integration will be facilitated by producing a visual art exhibit from the documentation of a journey of soil collection (soil materials which will be subsequently used in the research study) placed in the historical context of enslaved people through interviews, photos, videos, and narrative stories of Black history and land and soil stewardship on a trip from Virginia to Texas. This journey will include connections to faculty and staff at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Black-owned farms. The visual art exhibit will weave together cultural and environmental narratives of collard greens, soil and land management, and natural history by displaying soil profiles and their natural histories alongside images and videos relevant to cultural histories and the Black experience in America.


Just Education: Addressing the Ripple Effect of Incarceration in Minnesota

  • Perry L. Moriearty, Law School
  • Rebecca Shlafer, Pediatrics, Medical School
  • Daniel McCarthy Clifford, Visual Artist
  • Ingrid Nuttall, Office of the Registrar

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. Over the last two years, leaders from the Law School, Academic Health Center, Weisman Art Museum, and other University stakeholders have explored 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. In the third year of our collaboration, we aim to define how the University can transform the collateral consequences of incarceration into opportunities for economic mobility, individual growth, and societal change, through research, teaching, and collaboration with scholars, advocates, state and county officials, and those currently impacted. In 2021-2022, a key effort of Just Education will be our continued work with University faculty, leadership, and the Department of Corrections to develop and deliver a baccalaureate degree program to currently incarcerated scholars.


Kerala Project

  • Sumanth Gopinath, Music, CLA
  • Jenny Norman, Curriculum & Instruction, CEHD
  • Yuichiro Onishi, African American & African Studies, CLA
  • Siddhant Pusdekar, Ecology, CBS

Our project is an exploratory research collaboration that seeks to critically reframe science communication and science practices for the purpose of co-constructing imaginative, relational, and actionable solutions towards environmental and climate justice. The majority of current attempts to address climate emergencies in the United States are focused on technocratic solutions that fail to mobilize collective action and often distance the communities who will be most impacted by effects of climate change. In order to tackle the climate crisis, we need radically different approaches that are accessible and motivating to all people, especially young people. When looking for successful examples of people-centered solutions, Kerala People's Science Movement (KSSP) in the Indian state of Kerala stands out for their novel approaches of decades-long bottom-up governance by engaging people in science as a tool for liberation. Our goal is to investigate how KSSP’s strategies can catalyze the existing work of two local environmental justice organizations – the Minnesota Environmental & Climate Justice Table and Science for the People. From our research, we hope to build a model that is representative of collective concerns and visions that can effectively work towards liberatory climate justice solutions.


Latinx Visual Arts Collaborative: exploring an infrastructure for artistic opportunity and professional development of Minnesota Latinx artists

  • Karen Mary Davalos, Chicano and Latino Studies, CLA
  • Maria Cristina Tavera, Artist & Independent Curator, Serpentina Arts
  • Christina Martinez, Chicano and Latino Studies, CLA

Contemporary movements including Me Too!, Black Lives Matter, and Decolonize the Museum have increased attention to equity, inclusion, and accountability within the U.S. art world. This interdisciplinary and intergenerational collaborative is informed by such phenomena and the methodologies of Chicana/o/x studies which maximize reciprocity with and outcomes for historically marginalized populations. The collaborative challenges the status quo and existing academic structures by creating innovative practices to strengthen the self-determined professional advancement of Minnesota Latinx artists. We propose two types of activities to determine an infrastructure that suits the needs and agency of Minnesota Latinx artists: 1) works-in-progress discussions with an artist planning group and 2) workshops with arts experts. Following Paulo Freire, the collaborative positions the artist planning group as the decision-makers who will determine the specific topics of the workshops and the infrastructure of their future collective action that advances their artistry and professional development. Notably, the budget also challenges existing structures in academia by funding the artist planning group for their knowledge and time away from their studios. Finally, the collaborative mitigates exclusionary practices of the U.S. art world by hosting workshops designed by and for Minnesota Latinx artists.


Memory, Movement, Montage

  • Nida Sajid, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, CLA
  • Pawan Sharma, Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, CLA
  • Rituparna Rana, Université Paul-Valéry - Montpellier III

Memory, Movement, Montage began in early 2020 with the objective of building an inclusive platform for diverse perspectives on migration and creating an innovative curriculum for global engagement. We specifically focus on alternative mediums for narrating migration stories and histories to engage critically with material memory and memorialization. Our collaborative challenges conventional methodologies and explores creative venues for both academic research and public outreach. We started by reaching out to academic, artistic, and migrant communities both within the university and outside to form a transnational collective. These vibrant interactions led us to conceptualize digital projects in six different locations across the globe – Amsterdam, Berlin, Goa, Minnesota, Punjab, and Zanzibar. We have initiated three film documentation projects, three photo-essay exhibitions, and two visual story-mapping projects through our collaboration with academic institutions and community organizations. We plan to complete our ongoing projects and move forward thematically by introducing new initiatives in the coming year on migrant cultures of food, music, and dress. As a multimedia project, this collaborative will continue to examine the racialization of migrant communities, the concepts of borders and boundaries, and the meaning of political citizenship in a transnational world. 


Minnesota Critical Futures Research Collective

  • Kristen Reynolds, American Studies, CLA
  • Zenzele Isoke, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, CLA
  • Phoebe Young, American Studies, CLA
  • Moriah Shumpert, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, CLA
  • E. Ornelas, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, CLA
  • Isaac Espósto, Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, CLA

Over the last decade there has been a growing interest within the fields of Critical Black Studies and Critical Indigenous Studies to link theories of resistance and imagine otherwise possibilities for our encounters. Often these works have both highlighted and, at times, attempted to reconcile the incommensurability of Blackness and Indigeneity to uncover common ground that facilitates meaningful struggle together against Black and Native suffering and expands possibilities for decolonial futures.Our overarching goal for this grant is to analyze the intersections of Critical Black Studies and Critical Indigenous Studies within the local and temporal contexts of the Twin Cities and the University of Minnesota in 2021-22. Within this analysis, we seek to understand the limitations of settler colonialism and afropessimism as analytic lenses and instead shift toward and embrace the ambiguity generated by the tensions between Black Studies and Native studies. We will use queer theories of kinship, Critical Indigenous Pedagogies of Place, and theories of active listening, as posited by Paulina Oliveras, as well as possibilities of radical love, understanding and reciprocity put forth by scholars such as Chris Finley, to guide us through these sites of tensions.


Project for Advancing Healthcare Stewardship

  • Mary Butler, Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health
  • Jeannine Ouellette, Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health
  • Tai Mendenhall, Family Social Science, CEHD
  • Karen Lawson, Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality and Healing
  • Helene Murray, Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture, CFANS and Extension

The Project for Advancing Healthcare Stewardship (PAHS) facilitates public forums about health and healthcare stewardship. We seek to disseminate the results of these forums through academic publications, website posts, newsletters, digital forums, podcasting, and an eventual book project. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and worsened many of the systemic healthcare challenges we seek to explore and address--including cost escalation, insurance frustration, treatment uncertainty, clinician burnout, and patient distrust. The pandemic has also underscored and deepened healthcare disparities and heightened the need for an intentional focus on antiracism, which is one reason we are collaborative actively with two organizations that serve Minnesota's incarcerated community (Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop and We Are All Criminals). Our collaborative hosts forums for interactive social discourse and story-making to help people process their stress and grief around issues of health and healthcare, and to recognize and communicate long-term about the care they want within the constraints of what is available and potentially effective (while simultaneously providing tools and resources to help them do so). Our community-driven, humanistic focus is unique, engaging individuals first as active participants in the healthcare system, and second through their roles as providers and/or patients. Our team incorporates perspectives from evidence-based practice, narrative medicine, behavioral health, system sustainability, and community engagement.


Shoreham Yards Collaborative

  • Gudrun Lock, Independent Artist
  • Stuart McLean, Anthropology, CLA

Canadian Pacific-owned Shoreham Yards is a historically polluted train, trucking and bulk-distribution site located within the Mississippi watershed of Northeast Minneapolis. Since 2019 artist Gudrun Lock has been in dialogue with the railway, researchers, other artists, local residents and anthropologist Stuart McLean about turning the margins of the site into a multi-disciplinary, ecologically focused research laboratory. With this in mind, the Collaborative will develop a dynamic picture of the landscape to create a framework from which to further the work. Combining data collection with critically informed, socially responsible inquiry we will re-imagine the site as both a human made, and other-than human system. A partial inventory of trees, plants and birds along the margins of the site will form the basis of an urban carbon capture pilot project and phenology database, while multiple virtual round tables will allow participants from diverse disciplines to bring critical perspectives to bear upon the blighted urban landscape. The Shoreham Yards Collaborative will activate the imagination in response to the current climate and extinction crisis by creating multi-faceted conversations and data sets about a landscape, making space for debates about our role in the future of the planet.



Transdisciplinary Engagements with Contemporary Indigenous Thinkers

  • David Syring, Studies in Justice, Culture and Social Change, CLA, UMN Duluth
  • Jennifer Liang, Biology, Swenson College of Science & Engineering, UMN Duluth
  • Peter Murdock Levin, Institute on the Environment
  • Katy Chapman, Math, Science & Technology, UMN Crookston

This project focuses on engaging contemporary indigenous thinkers to explore how indigenous thought can be made more central to education and research. The goal is to make this inclusive of diverse perspectives, and to influence thinking on a wide range of topics, from how research and education are carried out to who benefits and participates. Since these are central questions, we expect that this project will engage and impact a broad range of programs and disciplines within the UMN system. The project includes virtual and in-person (as possible) events featuring thinkers who cross conventional interdisciplinary boundaries, including: Chickasaw poet, novelist, and essayist Linda Hogan; Ojibwe/Odawa education scholar Dr. Roxanne Gould; local Anishinaabe artists such as Vern Northrup, Wendy Savage, and Moira Villiard; as well as other indigenous thinkers yet to be identified. Events will include classroom visits, student engagements, gatherings with faculty and staff, and public events. The project will be central to the ongoing, interdisciplinary creation of a Learning Community composed of faculty, staff, and graduate and undergraduate students from multiple programs located across system campuses. The project will culminate in an “Action Plan for Strengthening the Presence of Indigenous Knowledge Perspectives in our Teaching and Research.”




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