2022 Emerging Creatives Student Summit

About Emerging Creatives

Learning in Liminal Spaces: Transformative Visions for the 21st Century

We are proud to announce the return of the Emerging Creatives Student Summit in 2022 after a one-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time, the event will be cosponsored by two leading companies from the private sector, Steelcase Learning and CannonDesign, in partnership with a2ru founding partner institution Virginia Tech. The Summit will take place March 9-11 in Washington, D.C. at Steelcase’s WorkLife Center.

This year’s theme “Learning in Liminal Spaces: Transformative Visions for the 21st Century” reckons with a profoundly altered educational landscape as we emerge from the pandemic. Old models of learning are undergoing seismic change. We have been living with reordered routines in a time between times, learning in liminal spaces of asynchronous and hybrid instruction. Yet in this in-between time and space we now inhabit, we are freer to imagine new opportunities to access, participate, and thrive in learning. Exploring our human capacity for change in the wake of crisis, we can create more equitable and diverse learning spaces to fulfill our creative potential.

The a2ru Emerging Creatives summit will bring together students from the a2ru network in Washington DC at Steelcase’s WorkLife Center for workshops, skill building, and expert input from leaders in design, architecture, and engineering. Students will work in teams to create collaborative, transdisciplinary projects that explore how we can own these liminal, speculative, transdisciplinary spaces and transform how we learn together.

Conference Program

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Student Testimonials

Martita Browne, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Attending the 2022 a2ru Student Summit sponsored by Steelcase Design and Cannon Design was, certainly, a stimulating and wonderful experience. After two years of confinement due to Covid, it was mesmerizing to see the immense creative power that is still thriving, growing and waiting to be shared between participants.

These last two years have been marked by vertignous and unprecedented changes which have drastically reshaped our day to day lives. In this context, exploring the boundaries of liminal learning (which was this Student Summit's main topic) has become an extremely important topic in times where education has had to find new ways of thriving. This Summit, in its esence did that, explore diverse topics related to the shifting educational landscape through the liminality of transdisciplinary collaboration.

The Summit was packed with exciting working sessions, museum visits, flash talks, and a panelists conversation. However, what I enjoyed the most was being able to engage in an academic context with people of diverse cultures and backgrounds. I am an Engineering, Design and Innovation Major at the Engineering school of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and I have collaborated in a couple of transdisciplinary projects in the last two years, but I was impressed by the depth of the conversations I was able to have in this Summit and how the carefully planned activities allowed people to really get to know each other.

I am really grateful for being able to participate in this wonderful experience and I'm looking forward to utilize the tools I learned in this Summit to 'bend the future', as Andrew Kim said, through transdisciplinary collaboration.

Pablo Browne, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
The Summit makes a big effort to guide us in the ways and manners in which a group can and should work in a creative endeavor, especially within an interdisciplinary effort; it emphasizes the importance of clear and trustful communication, creative design thinking, and problem solving, and provides effective tools to do. As a result, we have a fertile environment in which to create new ideas and solutions. I found this especially compelling, as I hadn't before had the opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary project and, due to the pandemic, I was out of practice working with others. In that sense, the Summit has revitalized my passions and interests, and given me a new perspective to see our surroundings and seek solutions to the challenges that face our contemporary society.
Meredith Emery, University of Georgia
I am a Master of Fine Arts candidate in Sculpture at the University of Georgia. My artistic pursuits often investigate systems of knowledge, so this year's conference theme on the future of learning strategies/environments was highly relevant to my studio practice. As we parsed out how we conceive of liminality and learning, I was compelled by how our guest panelists framed fluid learning as a design issue. Each speaker emphasized the importance of learning methods and spaces that acknowledge the non-uniformity of learning through an accommodation of any given learner's pallet of needs. The Steelcase design workspace was an inspiring example of how intentionally constructing a workspace, classroom, etc. around peoples' needs can impact generative collaboration and learning.

Although stretches of my studio practice have involved collaborative work across art and non-art disciplines, the Emerging Creatives Summit provided an opportunity for me to absorb and practice new methods for engaging interdisciplinary group work. I appreciated the process of creating relationships with my teammates, rooted in a shared investment in our project. Within our group, we witnessed our own small network of knowledge and resource sharing emerge over the course of 72 hours, and I was thankful to participate in what became a revelatory, transient learning experience.

Amit Kaushik, University of Georgia
I’m a Ph.D. student in Integrative Conservation at the Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia (UGA). I did my masters in Environment & Development from the School of Human Ecology, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University Delhi in 2016. I work on conservation issues in Central India and attempt to integrate science and social sciences in my research. The 2022 a2ru Emerging Creatives Summit’s theme: “Learning in Liminal Spaces: Transformative Visions for the 21st Century,” was of special interest to me and I was fortunate to represent UGA at the summit. As part of the Integrative Conservation Ph.D. Program at UGA, I learn to work at the liminal spaces and make efforts to collaborate across disciplines. This year’s theme merged with my academic discipline and research interests, and it was exciting being part of the event. I am a first generation-international student, additionally, the summit allowed me to visit Washington DC for the first time and visit some of the fascinating museums.

On the first day at the Virginia Tech Executive Briefing Center, seeing a diverse group of people from different institutions made it exciting to learn how contemporary issues need cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary engagements, especially during and post-Covid-19 times. It was interesting seeing how everyone is realizing the importance of culture in working and designing spaces. This has made hybridity important in our perspectives and spaces. I enjoyed listening to Dr. R. Benjamin Knapp (Virginia Tech), Patricia A. Bou (Cannon Design), and Andrew Kim (Steel Case), who discussed some of the challenges in transdisciplinary work and learning spaces. I notice all these disciplines face similar challenges of interdisciplinarity, collaborations, equity, and access, and use a common language to share their disciplinary challenges. It was interesting seeing how companies like Steelcase and Cannon Design are also becoming part of such processes and trying to find a new niche for their business. The push towards doing something collaborative made this event creative by providing space to discuss boundary objects and issues. On the first day, all participants divided themselves into groups based on their interests. The goal was to create a prototype, which is interdisciplinary and collaborative. I chose to be part of the ‘Between and across disciplines’ theme.

In my group, I had people from diverse backgrounds like Design, Cognition Engineering, Music, Virtual Reality, Anthropology, etc. We named our project, “Plants as Disciplines.” We used a plant as a metaphor (accessible to see in our office or non-office spaces) to talk about cross-disciplinary and liminal spaces. We designed virtual reality experiences to share what is visible (above ground) and what is not visible (above and below ground: ecological/biological processes in a plant). Our ideas and knowledge of this model informed us to think how this is similar to how disciplines function. Using this approach, we shared with the audience how different disciplines are connected, quite like the branches of a plant; but have a lot in there, which needs cross-cultural communication. We think it’s just a matter of acknowledging these depths and appreciating differences. Our team looks forward to working on the prototype in the future and taking the model forward.

At last, I want to thank Maryrose Flanigan, Shannon Fitzsimons Moen, Veronica Stanich, Charisse Willis, and others, who made this event welcoming and successful. You all were amazing! At UGA, I am grateful to Mark Callahan and Talley Vodicka, who shared this opportunity with me.

Emily Mautone, Rutgers University
I attended the 2022 student summit in Washington DC. The conversations we had about liminal spaces were highly engaging, and the program well organized. I gained so much knowledge being able to work with many students in different disciplines. The events planned and the spaces we worked in were amazing, contributing to an immersive creative experience. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity!

I loved working at the SteelCase WorkLife Center, it was definitely an inspiring place to work, and fit the theme of the conference. The Futures exhibit was also exciting, and I enjoyed the experience of a tactile and immersive museum. The exhibit was super helpful for the project that my group worked on. I learned so much, and made some amazing connections at this conference that I know will come in handy in the future.


Nominations and Applications

Due to space restrictions and COVID-19 protocols, and to maintain the interdisciplinary nature of the event, participation will be limited to two students from each a2ru member institution: one student from an arts-based discipline and one student from a non-arts discipline. Representatives from member institutions may submit their nominations in the form linked below. Please contact a2ruconnect@umich.edu with any questions.

Submit Nominations

Funding Opportunities

Students nominated for Emerging Creatives can apply for funding to defray the costs of attending the Summit through one of two programs: the a2ru Student Travel Grants (providing up to $250 in support) or the a2ru Scholar Awards (providing up to $1000 in support). The deadline to apply for funding for the 2022 summit is January 21. Please see the links below for additional information and to apply:

Student Travel Grants

Scholar Awards


a2ru has arranged a room block for Emerging Creatives at the Hilton Hotel Arlington.

Students can book online at the link below; they also have the option to contact Hilton Hotel Arlington directly (703.528.6000) or the Hilton reservation hotline (1-800-445-8667) to make their reservations. Students will need to provide the group code (ECS), arrival date, and hotel name. A rate of $219 per night for a single room or $229 for a double room is available for the evenings of March 8 through March 11, 2022. The price is inclusive of breakfast.

Reservations must be made by February 9, 2022. 

Book Online