UGA’s Deep Dive into Arts Integration


November 29, 2017

December 13, 2016

Before we* started running from session to session at the recent Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities’ annual meeting, a2ru sat down with two reps from the one of the newest institutions in the network, the University of Georgia, to talk arts integration.  We chatted with art and design professor and graphic artist Chris Garvin; and Isabelle Wallace, who serves as an associate professor of arts history and the associate director for graduate studies, research, and recruitment. (She wears as hats as her title is lengthy—another trend among those dedicated to reaching beyond their disciplinary silos). Garvin is also the director of the Lamar Dodd School of Art and started off talking about the art school itself.

In 2008 the school relocated to east campus, into a facility that was the “lovechild of the 80s Olympics in Atlanta“—Athens hosted the swimming pool and diving facility built for the events which has been repurposed for UGA. The building is beautiful, but removed from central campus. This issue highlights one of the typical challenges posed to interdisciplinary work: the geographic expanse at a large research university and how schools are clumped by discipline (east campus also has the School of Music and the Georgia Museum of Art. However, Garvin notes, the students found their way there from central campus and “non-art students do come though so [we] were able to evolve into a conservatory” which boasts students who study all walks of disciplines. “We are building [our integration efforts] in a disciplinary way, not a hybrid way,” says Garvin. For example, instead of having living learning communities that are separated on different campuses separated geographically, they have a student living learning community, which is centralized. So, score one for collaboration!


In 1785, the University of Georgia became America’s first state-chartered university and the birthplace of the American system of public higher education.They are launching new curriculums and projects, including a summer scholar’s program, a “maymester” field study opportunity for students where they spend May in New York city to use the city as a classroom for their research and projects.

They also have an arts design requires taking a certificate in digital media and entrepreneurial sustainability. Being trained as a painter who has practiced primarily as a designer helps me bring a balanced approach to my teaching. I feel I have sensitivity for both the artistic impulse and the business acumen that our students need to thrive in an ever-changing world.

[The arts] skill set translates very well to a client meeting, a pitch and a boardroom and maybe, most importantly, to being empathetic with the people you work with.

One reason UGA joined a2ru is to take advantage of the support a national network can give a college of arts at a large research university. We talked about how art is a form of research and how a2ru’s research can help those working on arts integration advocate for themselves. Also, the external visibility can be invaluable.

One mission of the art school is to make an artist that is more integral to a society—that’s what UGA can add to the evolving landscape of arts integration. They are trying to do that at the university to become a better research university overall weaving arts integration into the fabric of the university.

Too often, the arts are dissociated from the idea of research, but at the Dodd we believe that art and design are rigorous forms of inquiry, integral to problem-solving and the production of knowledge. –Chris Garvin

Assets at the university that boast interdisciplinary elements include the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, which promotes research and creativity in the humanities and arts and boasts the Digital Humanities Lab, which centralizes and supports research and funding for the university’s digital humanities core.

They also have Ideas for Creative Exploration  (ICE) as a catalyst for innovative, interdisciplinary creative projects, research and critical discourse in the arts and for creative applications of technologies, concepts and practices found across discipline—a collaborative network for creativity tying the different colleges together for creativity.

*Represented by Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities Executive Director Laurie Baefsky; ArtsEngine Associate Director Deb Mexicotte; and a2ru’s Maryrose Flanigan. a2ru is an outgrowth of the University of Michigan’s ArtsEngine program. Formed by a coalition of university leaders in 2012, a2ru fosters and champions the role of the arts and design in research, professional practice, and teaching to develop opportunities to communicate, diversify, and scale arts-infused learning on university campuses.

Source for quotes UGA Faculty Profiles http://uga.edu/faculty/profile/chris-garvin1/

Leave a Reply