UW News

July 8, 2016

‘Excitations’: Summer Institute in the Arts to explore energy

UW News

Student participants in the 2104 Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities study and share together on a sunny day.

Student participants in the 2014 Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities study and share together on a sunny day.Jennifer Harris

“Excitation” is not just a scientific term or perfect Beach Boys lyric, it’s also the topic of this year’s cross-disciplinary Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities, an intensive summer research program for undergraduate students.

This year’s institute, lasting through summer quarter, is “Excitations: Energy Studies in the Arts and Humanities.” Guided by four UW instructors, about 20 selected students will attend lectures and seminars and gather for small group critiques, workshops and tutorial sessions, all on that theme.

They will study theoretical writing on the topic, and create a project that, program notes state, “reflects their unique insights into the role of energy in the arts and humanities.” These projects can be digital or physical, and they may include performances, visual artworks and creative writing as well as scholarly research.

Participating instructors are:

  • Rebecca Cummins, professor, School of Art + Art History + Design
  • Tyler Fox lecturer, Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (formerly with UW Bothell)
  • Philip Thurtle, associate professor, Comparative History of Ideas Program
  • Joel Ong, doctoral student, Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media
Works in progress exhibit:
Jacob Lawrence Gallery, opening Aug. 17
Concluding seminar:
Allen Library Auditorium, Aug. 18

“To be excited means to be excited about something – which means that you’re actively engaged in the world in a certain way,” said Thurtle in a video you can view below. “And so, to get students to start thinking about how they are actively engaged in the world, and how they can best research that by using the tools of the arts and humanities — is the aim and purpose of this particular summer institute.”

The institute will conclude on Aug. 18 with a “works in progress exhibition” and a daylong seminar where students will present or perform the results of their research and inquiry. That will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Allen Library Auditorium, and open to the public.

“We’ve got four amazing faculty, so this is going to be a very hands-on summer institute,” Thurtle said. “In some sense, this could be one of the most intense academic experiences the students will have during their lifetime.”

The institute was created by the Undergraduate Research Program in collaboration with the Simpson Center for the Humanities. Other sponsors are the Office of Research, Summer Quarter and the Mary Gates Endowment for Students.


For more information, visit online or contact the Undergraduate Research Program at urp@uw.edu, or Thurtle at 206-543-7333 or thurtle@uw.edu.


  • Watch a video about the 2016 Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities: