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Caine College of the Arts Introduces new Graduate Fellowship

Thursday, Nov. 08, 2012

Caine College of the Arts student working on project

Arts students now have the opportunity to utilize their skills in a broader field.

The Office of Research and Graduate Studies at Utah State University has collaborated with the Caine College of the Arts in developing the new MFA Arts/STEM Fellowships. The unique fellowships are designed to facilitate graduate students in the arts to explore interdisciplinary work in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field. The fellowship carries a tuition award (in-state and nonresident), a $15,000 annual stipend and subsidized graduate health insurance. The idea was jointly conceived by Mark McLellan, vice president for research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies, and Craig Jessop, dean of the Caine College of the Arts. A formal proposal was then created and submitted by the college. The innovative fellowship program is a limited-time pilot that will hopefully attract other resources and support to sustain the effort.

“In today’s day and age, science alone is not enough to conceptualize innovation,” said McLellan. “That’s where creativity comes in. This fellowship is an excellent way to encourage the simultaneous integration of both the creative and scientific fields.”

“Steve Jobs is the perfect example of where art and technology meet,” said Jessop, “It is our goal to recruit and retain top-flight graduate students into our program who can think outside the box and who could potentially be the next Steve Jobs.”

Besides McLellan and Jessop, Nicholas Morrison and Shelley Lindauer have also been actively involved in the creation of the fellowship. Morrison is the senior associate dean in the Caine College of the Arts, while Lindauer is the associate vice president for research and associate dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

“The scientific method is great in giving you incremental verifiable change, and it’s great at narrowing the focus of the field to a specific investigation,” said Morrison. “However, if you look at major innovations, there is a spark of creativity that goes beyond the incremental. For our MFA students, experience with experimentation and data is also critical. Mark saw what the arts students can bring to the lab and faculty in the sciences, and how they would also benefit from the collaboration.”

Below are examples of how this kind of pairing of interests might work:

  • An MFA candidate in ceramics who is also interested in engineering concepts might work with a colleague in the College of Engineering in the area of material science.
  • An MFA candidate in set design who is interested in adaptive building practices for persons with disabilities may work with faculty and professionals in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation or the Center for Persons with Disabilities.
  • An MFA candidate in graphic design who is interested in the broader discipline of design thinking and its impact on collaborative project management across disciplines could work with colleagues in other design disciplines of the college and faculty in sociology and natural resources on community building and sustainability.

Interested faculty from the Caine College of the Arts will develop proposals to be reviewed by a team made up of faculty from the college and a representative from the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.  Once the top proposal is selected, that faculty member will begin a national/international search for a top graduate student who is the best fit for the fellowship.

An offer will be finalized on May 1, 2013, for the 2013-14 academic year. The duration of the fellowship is three years, since MFA programs in the college are three-year terminal degree programs.  An additional MFA Arts/STEM Fellowship will also be offered for the 2014-15 and the 2015-16 academic years.

“We are grateful to Mark for his vision, his generosity and his willingness to make us a partner,” said Jessop. “We anticipate that these fellowships will have a profound impact on the college and on the overall graduate education at USU.”

Related links:

Caine College of the Arts

USU Office of Research and Graduate Studies

Writer: Nadiah Johari,

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