Announcing the 2024-25 IAS Research and Creative Collaboratives

UMN Driven to Discover banner

We are delighted to announce the new and renewing Research and Creative Collaboratives at the Institute for Advanced Study! 

Research and Creative Collaboratives represent some of the most synergistic and innovative work across the University of Minnesota system. Faculty, staff, students from across all five campuses, and/or community members come together in self-initiated groups to pursue interdisciplinary activities that can often be challenging to accomplish within departmental or collegiate structures. 

Collaboratives receive up to $12,000 as well as administrative support from the Institute for Advanced Study to further their work. Collaboratives receive support for 18 months and are eligible for renewal. The following Collaboratives were awarded funding in either Fall 2023 or Spring 2024 and are funded through 2025.

We are excited to support such a broad and inspiring cohort of new Collaboratives and their conveners!


American Indian Child Removal Study: Indigenous-centered Analysis, Writing, and Sharing of Results

Entire generations of Native American children have been removed from their families and placed in boarding schools or adopted/fostered into non-Native families. The trauma of family and community separation has deeply impacted these individuals, their families, their communities, and their descendants. As a long-term partnership of six people from Indigenous community organizations and the University of Minnesota, we are conducting an anonymous survey of these populations, with over 1,000 respondents to date. Our team is rooted in a decolonizing research approach that centers Native values such as spirituality, reflection, and community-based interactions. Participation in the Research and Creative Collaboratives program allows us to convene a Council of knowledge holders and language speakers to provide guidance on the next phase of the project: producing a book and a website to share the findings of the project with survivors and their descendants, their families, and Tribal Nations, as well as other stakeholders like Tribal child welfare workers and policy makers.

  • Sandy White Hawk, Sicangu Lakota; Executive Director of First Nations Repatriation Institute
  • Samuel Torres, Mexica/Nahua; Deputy Chief Executive Officer of National Native American
    Boarding School Healing Coalition
  • Carolyn Liebler, Sociology, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Sara Axtell, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Maggie Greenleaf, Red Lake Ojibwe; University of Minnesota Alum
  • Chris Mann, University of Minnesota Alum

Funded through December 2025

The Archive as Infrastructure: Multidisciplinary Practice for Challenging Disciplinary Edifice and Building Social Justice in the Humanities

Archives as Infrastructure proposes a multidisciplinary approach to the critique and exploration of historical sources. Whether institutionally collected works or conceptional collections, archives are human constructs and as such are subject to and created with biases, privilege, and preconceived notions of disciplinary relevance. We recognize that these archives and the work resulting from them can produce obfuscatory views of the past which shape our disciplines and society in ways that embolden injustices of the present. Even as archivists and curators implement practices that render physical collections more inclusive and easier to access, humanistic disciplines themselves remain siloed both in their understandings of what is a valid archive, and what approaches are most fruitful. To engage the experience of social injustice holistically, address the far-reaching impacts of problematic archival constructs, and more responsibly identify erasures and bridge archival gaps, we need teams of humanist scholars with diverse methods and expertise working together. This collaborative will build community around multidisciplinary approaches to archives of various forms and develop methods and forms of practice that can be applied in scholarly practice and coursework at various levels.

  • Michelle Hamilton, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Juliette Cherbuliez, French & Italian, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Marguerite Ragnow, James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota

Funded through December 2025

Duluth/Onigamiinsing Queer, Trans & Intersex Black, Indigenous & People of Color Collective

The Duluth/Onigamiinsing Queer, Trans, & Intersex Black Indigenous & People of Color (QTIBIPOC) Collective is the reimagining of a student-led project that launched in Fall 2018, when there was combined motivation and activation around forming a dedicated space for “students of color identifying as a shade of LGBTQ+ at the University of Minnesota Duluth and in the Duluth community.” Honoring this legacy, the Duluth/Onigamiinsing QTIBIPOC Collective aims to address the double bind of experiences faced by queer, trans and intersex BIPOC folks on college campuses and explore pathways for creating affirming spaces and culturally-relevant opportunities where QTIBIPOC folks are embraced and celebrated in their fullness. Through meaningful kinship networks, pleasurable programming, and intentional connections with Duluth proponents, the Duluth/Onigamiinsing QTIBIPOC Collective makes legible the dynamic needs, stories, and knowledge ways of queer, trans, and intersex Black, Indigenous and people of color communities at UMD and Duluth/Onigamiinsing.

  • Roze Brooks, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Iris Carufel, American Indian Learning Resource Center, University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Azrin Awal, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, University of Minnesota Duluth

Funded through June 2025

Fostering Connections through Creative Arts Programs for At-Risk Youth and College Students

Collaborating with the Rochester Alternative Learning Center (ALC) is a new initiative led by a interdisciplinary team of instructors from the University of Minnesota Rochester to develop a mentorship program for at-risk youth through a community engaged course entitled Contemplation of Creativity and Mental Health through Qualitative Analysis. This course provides opportunities for Bachelor of Science Health Sciences (BSHS) students to interact with youth who struggle with mental health challenges through creative activities. In addition, the BSHS students assess the impact of the creative activities on ALC students through qualitative analysis. This initiative includes a series of public exhibitions, highlighting the artwork produced by ALC and BSHS students. The exhibitions present all participants as artists and recognize their creative talent. This program focuses on the mutual interests of both BSHS students, who become mentors by providing their consistent and compassionate presence, and of ALC students, who may expand the vision of their future by interacting with college students. The hope is to turn this initiative into community-based action research of both institutions, collaboratively attending to the needs of at-risk youth in Rochester and growth of health sciences students.

  • Yuko Taniguchi, Center for Learning Innovation, University of Minnesota Rochester
  • Jered Bright, Center for Learning Innovation, University of Minnesota Rochester
  • Jennifer Wacek, Center for Learning Innovation, University of Minnesota Rochester
  • Lida Casper, Rochester Public Schools
  • Sweta Petal, Rochester Public Schools
  • Alexis Zaccariello, Rochester Public Schools

Funded through December 2025

Globalizing Medical History through East Asian Materials in Special Collections

The history of modern science and medicine has tended to be written and taught as fundamentally Western. In reality, the development of medical practices were global in the early modern and modern period, with western intellectuals drawing on Asian medical practices, and East Asian physicians grappling with Dutch, Jesuit, Chinese, and Western medicine in configuring their medical practices. In an effort to enable the teaching and research of a more global history of health at the University of Minnesota, this Collaborative aims to make the numerous East Asian medical sources at the Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine (WHL) more accessible to members of the University of Minnesota academic and medical community as well as interested members of the public. We seek funding to hire a language specialist to translate representative sections of WHL East Asian collection materials, to facilitate the creation of a community of U of M and local faculty and instructors to ideate how to use the materials in instruction, and to host a pop-up exhibition to create public awareness of the materials.

  • Wayne Soon, Program in the History of Medicine, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Emily Beck, Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Lois Hendrickson, Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Funded through June 2025

Health Care Under Crisis: Investigating Minnesota’s “Safe Haven” Status Through Community Storytelling

With abortion and gender-affirming healthcare under sustained attack across the United States, Minnesota has been publicly framed as a site of refuge for these essential health services. Through interdisciplinary collaboration and community-focused outcomes, we bring critical reflexivity to the public discourses that exhort Minnesota as a “safe haven” or “sanctuary.” Our proposed collaborative expands upon the existing Minnesota Reproductive Health Oral History Project to consider how to prioritize community-based collaboration and mutual benefit in the production of archival material. To do so, we will platform the experiences and perspectives of health care providers and community members in Minnesota striving to increase access to basic health services like abortion and gender-affirming care. This two-pronged project has both archival and public outcomes: First, we will gather provider experiences through oral history interviews. Second, by producing a zine and facilitating a community event where participants can share their joys, fears, and critical wisdom, we will ensure that these experiences are available to the communities that have produced them. Taken together, our project serves the tenets of reproductive justice as outlined by Sistersong—”the right to not have children, the right to have children, and the right to parent children in safe, sustainable communities.” 

  • Emily Winderman, Communication Studies, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Lauren Ruhrold, History of Medicine, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Adam Negri, History of Medicine, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Funded through June 2025

Health Humanities Network

When he asked what was missing from medical training, K. Danner Clouser, the first philosopher to teach ethics at a U.S. medical school, answered “everything that makes us human.” In the 1980s, Clouser called attention to the “belief that something vital and fundamental was missing in health professions education and that the humanities could fill in those gaps and omissions.” In the years since, this provocative idea of the humanities providing something “missing” in the way we think about, study, and teach health and medicine has flourished. The Health Humanities have fundamentally changed the way that we think about the relationship between conceptions of health, the body, illness, death, medicine because they insist that we integrate our skills as humanists to the questions predominantly reserved for STEM curricula. We propose the establishment of the Health Humanities Network to help build a more humane and culturally-aware understanding of health and healthcare across the University of Minnesota system.

  • Matthew Reznicek, Surgery, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Devaleena Das, Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health, University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Marcia Nichols, Center for Learning Innovation, University of Minnesota Rochester
  • Alexandra Zachwieja, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Funded through December 2025

Listening to Oral Histories of West Central Minnesota

Oral testimony offers one of the most promising methods for documenting idiosyncratic and quotidian stories of the past, especially in places where the understanding of difference can be flattened by rural stereotypes. By its very nature, there is always an urgency to preserving oral history, because there is always an elder generation whose memories might be lost without these methods. After a year of learning about the methods and ethics of oral history through reading groups, planning sessions, and presentations by visiting experts, this Collaborative is ready to launch new projects in the 2024–25 academic year. Potential themes include memories of climate change, Main Street, the Apostolic Church, the West Central School for Agriculture, Latinx migration stories, and college experiences of COVID-19. We look forward to further development of collaboration with community partners and scholars across campuses and disciplines interested in oral history methods.

  • Emily Bruce, History, University of Minnesota Morris
  • Naomi Skulan, Briggs Library, University of Minnesota Morris

*returning collaborative, formerly Collecting Oral Histories of West Central Minnesota
Funded through December 2025

Oshkiigin Noojimo'iwe

Our project, Oshkiigan Noojimo’iwe, is an effort to build and expand the messages and collective voice first developed the TRUTH Project, which set forth an historic and powerful counter narrative by using a unique model for action-oriented research that responds to community and takes cues from the land itself. Oshkiigan Noojimo’iwe is an initiative for the core research team to continue to develop their own voices and bring forth this message in a deeper and broader way. The core research team bring their specific backgrounds, training, and skill set to the project to show leadership and push for the areas of inquiry that most mattered to each of them. Each member of our collaborative is uniquely positioned and can speak from different vantage points to record and produce a short podcast series which seeks to discuss our efforts and draw connections to other efforts happening in other places on Turtle Island. As demonstrated through our original research, the issue of Tribal-University relations gains richness when considered through the prism and expressed through the collective voice of an all native team. 

  • An Garagiola, American Studies, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Audrianna Goodwin

Funded through June 2025

RIDGS SPPS Critical Ethnic Studies Evaluation: Promotion and Publication

The “RIDGS SPPS Critical Ethnic Studies Evaluation: Programming, Promotion, Publication” Creative Collaborative would bring together scholars and community practitioners from the Center for Race, Indigeneity, Disability, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (RIDGS), the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI), and St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) to generate and implement informative programming and publication around a jointly researched evaluation of SPPS’s Critical Ethnic Studies Course. These activities would take the form of: creating spaces for SPPS stakeholders such as students, teachers, administrators, and parents, to make sense of the research findings on their own terms, presenting research findings at conferences, and publishing original research in academic journals. Additionally, the Collective would strategize and design the next phase of the evaluation of the Critical Ethnic Studies program via a longitudinal study. This would involve hosting workshops with impacted community members to design a study that addresses their needs and questions, collecting additional data, and seeking out and applying for external grant funding. Since this work is very important but takes place during the interim space between two larger, formal research projects, it would be difficult to secure funding outside of the IAS Research and Creative Collaborative program.

  • Jacob Oertel, Center for RIDGS Studies, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Keith Mayes, Center for RIDGS Studies, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Alyssa Parr, Center For Applied Research and Educational Improvement, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Molly Illes, Center For Applied Research and Educational Improvement, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Mouakong Vue, St. Paul Public Schools
  • Xue Xiong, St. Paul Public Schools

Funded through June 2025

Tree Tapestries: New Tools for Ecological Education and Engagement

A tree is habitat, food, medicine. It is timber, shelter, paper, shade. It is an ecological record, a hydrologic system, a hazard. People have relationships with particular trees: trees are storytellers, record keepers, sentinels. This project weaves together a network including people who have worked together for many years and people who have never been in a room together. The commonality is that our research, work, or artistic practices center trees, and we share the desire to explore the subject in new transdisciplinary ways. Our questions include, what new methods for ecological education and engagement can we create together using trees as a point of entry? How can our scientific and creative processes inform and re-form each other’s work Through knowledge sharing, combining and borrowing from each other's practices, we will design new tools for connecting people with the trees around them. We will develop a citizen science project and activities that investigate history, water, and climate resilience through trees.

  • Bridget Mendel, Saint Anthony Falls Lab, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Xiating Chen, Saint Anthony Falls Lab and Civil, Environmental, and Geo-engineering, University of
  • Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Daniel Griffin, Saint Anthony Falls Lab and Geography, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Josh Muñoz, Como Park Senior High School
  • Molly Sturges, Center for Spirituality and Healing, Biomedical Engineering Sonic Lab, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Anne Turnham, Bee and Pollinator Research Lab, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Funded through December 2025

Two-Eyed Seeing and Third Spaces: Rematriation

We have become a collaborative community of indigenous and settler scientists, artists, designers, and teachers. We have focused on sharing time and knowledge systems at the University of Minnesota’s Cedar Creek field station. “Two-Eyed Seeing” means to see from an indigenous lens and the lens of western science at the same time, and this has been our primary research methodology. In our next phase of collaboration, we are coalescing around a framework of “rematriation”—the indigenous concept of restoring balance to the world, with two-eyed seeing as a way to begin. How could we design a forward-thinking field station based on two-eyed seeing? How could this new field station work to restore balance between humans and all our animal and plant relatives? We have decided to focus on the bison at Cedar Creek and the medicinal plants of the bison’s ecosystem as ways to fruitfully bring more indigenous knowledge to Cedar Creek, beginning with learning from tribal initiatives that are returning bison to tribal land. Learning and working with the land’s medicinal plants is a way to bring balance to the science-based plant research that Cedar Creek focuses on. We are excited to continue our leading-edge work together.

  • Rebecca Krinke, Landscape Architecture, CDes, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Caitlin Potter, CBS/Assistant Director, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Reserve
  • Dan Shaw, Landscape Architecture, CDes, University of Minnesota Twin Cities & State of MN Soil/Water

*Renewing Collaborative
Funded through December 2025



Blog Categories