Undergraduate Research Program

2019 Program Theme

Creating Alternate Worlds

June 24- August 23, 2019

Calling all undergraduates in the arts and humanities wanting a different world.

Our world is in trouble. Problems caused by systemic inequities based on race, gender, and ability still constrain human relationships, while seemingly new problems, such as global warming, proceed faster than previously imagined. Making things even worse, our attempts to create better futures through innovation often end up exacerbating the problems that they were meant to address. How can we as designers, artists, scholars, and activists engage our world in a way that effectively harnesses the power of our imaginations to rethink not only what we can create but change the ways we have of creating?

The 2019 Summer Institute in the Arts and Humanities will draw on world building practices in design, literature, gaming, art, afrofuturism, philosophy, and science to encourage students to envision and materialize different worlds. In doing so, we wish to explore world building as an interdisciplinary practice that explores how all acts of making involve implied worlds, how the genesis of other worlds remain tethered to the present, and how a focus on “worlds” shifts inquiries from the making of “things” to the delicate act of co-creating with and for a community of human and non-human others. Come see how designers imagine worlds from objects, how scientists use modeling to understand what can’t be immediately sensed, or how stories extend beyond characters and narrative to the settings that stories take place in.

Students will participate in lectures, seminars, small group critique, workshops, and tutorial sessions. They will read and discuss theoretical readings and learn techniques in world building from design, art, literature, and sciences. Students will then use these techniques to create worlds that reflect their ethical, intellectual, and creative commitments. The institute will culminate with a day-long seminar and a “Worlds in Progress Exhibition” where students present their worlds as a form of research and creative practice.

Learn more about the 2020 teaching team, application process, and sign up for an information session.