Institutes focus on graduate studies
ON THE GREEN | The College of Arts and Sciences held specialized institutes during the summer, giving students from other universities the opportunity to preview UD for graduate school and also broadening the experience of current graduate students seeking to learn more about material culture studies.
In June and July, eight seniors from universities across the nation and Puerto Rico attended the college’s first Arts and Humanities Summer Institute, designed to encourage a more diverse pool of students to apply to arts and humanities graduate programs at UD. The institute gave participants a chance to work closely with some of the University’s arts and humanities faculty and to be mentored through the process of applying to graduate programs.
“Sign me up,” said Diane Circelli, an English major from the University of Southern California, when asked at the institute’s concluding ceremony if she would consider UD for graduate school. “I had never even heard of UD. To me, Delaware was just a state, but these people are gold.”
Circelli was referring to the English department and other faculty members at the institute. She said she first became aware of UD when she received an e-mail about the summer program from its director, Rosalind Johnson, a postdoctoral fellow. The program, Johnson says, offers underrepresented, highly motivated college seniors who plan to attend graduate school a unique opportunity to learn about graduate programs in art, art conservation, art history and English at UD.
“We hope, through this summer experience, the students will be encouraged to apply to arts and humanities graduate programs at UD,” Johnson says. “One of the criteria used in selecting students to participate in the program was whether they have the potential to be successful in graduate school here.”
Shana Jenkins, a studio arts major from Virginia State University, also had been unfamiliar with UD before attending the institute, where she describes the faculty as welcoming and knowledgeable. “This program really helped me ‘see’ the University of Delaware,” she says.
In a separate College of Arts and Sciences summer program, 14 UD graduate students from seven departments and programs enrolled in the Material Culture Studies Public Institute, “From Avatars to Radio Sound Bites.” Participants described themselves as enthusiastic and wrapped up in their areas of study and their research—from Janneken Smucker and her project on Amish quilts and their oral history to Marina Dobronovskaya and her study of preservation issues in the reconstruction of Soviet cities after World War II.
The two-week workshop was set up to give scholars and curators of the future an opportunity to learn about the resources and technology available to them and also to teach them hands-on methods of transmitting their enthusiasm about their projects by reaching out and engaging the public.
Material culture studies is far-reaching and encompasses the history and philosophy of objects made or modified by humans, from toys to paintings to clothing. Matt Kinservik, professor of English, who organized the workshop with Joyce Hill Stoner, professor of art conservation, says its goals included stimulating professional collaboration, seeing beyond academia to the public and advancing the humanities via public engagement.