2024 Emerging Creatives Student Summit, “PLAY: The Impact of Play on How We Create and Relate to the World”

About Emerging Creatives

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The 2024 Emerging Creatives Student Summit, “PLAY: The Impact of Play on How We Create and Relate to the World.” will be hosted at Rochester Institute of Technology on March 14-17.

How are we—our mindsets, our approaches, our whole selves—different when we are at play?

What do the structures and assumptions of board games, or team sports, or role-playing games imply about who we are, how we think, and how we relate to others?

What about the world of unstructured play—of just “messing around”?

This year’s Emerging Creatives Student Summit on the theme of “Play” will bring together undergraduate and graduate students from across the a2ru network to explore how these questions and more inform our interdisciplinary and collaborative work. The Rochester Institute of Technology will host Emerging Creatives at its Student Hall for Exploration and Development (SHED), a brand-new space that provides flexible spaces for technology, art, and design under one roof.

In the SHED’s cutting-edge facilities, attendees will work in interdisciplinary teams with fellow students from across the a2ru network to create arts-integrative projects responding to the conference theme. Participants will receive training from a2ru staff on best practices for interdisciplinary collaboration, as well as mentorship and feedback from network faculty on their projects in progress. The four-day summit will conclude with presentations of each team’s project for peers and mentors.

Project Presentation Videos, Press & Student Testimonials

Project Presentation Videos:

Tiny Treasures

Shore Thing

Library of Disruption

I Feel U Feel

Duck in the Chaos

Classic Tale

Cladocerans are Dancing

Playful Interventions

Make & Mingle

Interactive Tunnel

Digi Play

Cheese Spies

Build Your Joy



E-Squared Magazine: "a2ru's Emerging Creatives Summit at RIT"

RIT: "Innovation unleashed: students forge transdisciplinary projects at RIT's a2ru summit"

Georgia Tech Library: "The Impact of Play: a2ru Emerging Creatives Summit Panel Discussion" (Video Recording)

Student Testimonials

Nominations and Applications

a2ru member institutions may send up to four undergraduate and/or graduate students to Emerging Creatives; departmental members may send up to two undergraduate and/or graduate students. Each institution or department conducts an internal process to determine their student delegates, then use the form linked below to submit their nominations to a2ru. To maintain the interdisciplinary nature of the event, the team of student delegates from each school should be evenly distributed between students from arts-based disciplines and students from non-arts disciplines.


Submit a Nomination

There is no registration fee for students from a2ru member institutions or departments to attend Emerging Creatives; participating students and/or their home institutions are responsible for travel and lodging expenses.

Space permitting, non-member institutions may be able to nominate students to attend Emerging Creatives, and individual students may self-nominate. Please contact Charisse Willis at a2ruconnect@umich.edu for non-member registration fees and other information.

Please contact Charisse Willis at a2ruconnect@umich.edu with any questions.

Funding and Presentation Opportunities

Funding Opportunity: Student Travel Grants

Student Travel Grants defray travel costs of up to $250 for students attending the Emerging Creatives Student Summit. These grants are open to undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students who are currently enrolled at a member institution.

Applications are due by Friday, December 22, 2023.

Apply for a Travel Grant

Funding Opportunity: a2ru Scholar Awards

a2ru Scholar Awards help sustain the academic excellence and inclusiveness of the a2ru network. With this program, a2ru aims to include students who have diverse experiences and goals, and those who come from varied educational, cultural, geographic, and familial backgrounds. They are open to undergraduate and graduate students who both demonstrate an interest in pursuing interdisciplinary study, research, and practice at a2ru member institutions and meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Are from an educational, cultural, or geographic background that is underrepresented in higher education.
  2. Have demonstrated a sustained commitment to reducing social, educational, and/or economic disparities based on ability, ethnicity, gender, race, or sexuality in the academic, professional, or civic realm. This commitment can be demonstrated through a scholar’s work and research experience, volunteer engagement, or leadership of student and/or community organizations.
  3. Have experienced financial hardship as a result of personal or family economic circumstances.
  4. Are first-generation U.S. citizens or are the first generation in their families to attend a four-year college.

Scholar Awards will cover up to $1000 of eligible expenses to attend Emerging Creatives.

Applications are due by Friday, December 22, 2023. 

Submit a Scholar Award Application

Presentation Opportunity: Lightning Talks

Graduate students who will represent their university at Emerging Creatives may apply to give a lightning talk on their interdisciplinary research that centers the arts. We seek talks that are: compact: 5 minutes long; relevant: research that integrates the arts with other disciplines in interesting ways, and will catalyze conversation among summit attendees; and compelling: impactful work, framed for non-experts. We especially welcome talks that relate to this year’s summit theme, “Play.”

Interested students should complete the application form by December 22, 2023; please note that the application requires a letter of recommendation from a faculty member familiar with the student’s research. 

Apply to Give Lightning Talk

Travel and Lodging

Students should make travel arrangements so they are available to participate in Emerging Creatives activities starting at 4pm on Thursday, March 14  (registration will open at 3pm) and ending on Sunday, March 17 at 1pm. Travel and hotel arrangements are the responsibility of the participating students and/or their home institutions.

a2ru and RIT have secured a room block for Emerging Creatives participants at the Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton Rochester Downtown (101 South Union Street, Rochester NY 14607) at a special rate of $179 per night. Click the link below to reserve a room.

Book Rooms

RIT will provide limited shuttle service for students between the Hampton Inn and the SHED; details are forthcoming.