Olin College of Engineering is seeking applicants for its creative residency program, an initiative that’s part of Sketch Model, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to bring artists and other creative practitioners to Olin’s campus to awaken the political and cultural contexts for technology. We’re seeking individuals or collectives whose work is significantly housed in the arts and humanities and whose interests might intersect in provocative and convivial ways with a small undergraduate college where all students major in engineering. The residency is a one-year opportunity for creative practitioners to carry out independent projects, collaborative engagement with students and faculty, and campus-wide events. Practitioners can come from the fine arts, design and architecture, craft, music, theatrical or dance performance, film, writing, new media, and the many hybrid forms of socially engaged and durational practices in contemporary global culture. Women and historically underrepresented communities are especially encouraged to apply. We’re calling for applications for our 2019-20 academic year. Deadline for applications is December 1 at midnight.
Olin College was established to re-invent engineering education. We welcomed our first class of students in 2002. A small-scale “lab school” with a large impact, Olin is an innovative leader in transformative higher education, welcoming weekly visitors to its campus from all over the world—thus far, over 800 visits from 55 countries since the school was founded. Our curriculum emphasizes human-centered design, real-world collaborations, and co-constructed pedagogies that partner students with faculty for authentic learning. Our presence in the Boston area connects our work to likeminded leaders in higher education, including a formal and active partnership with Wellesley and Babson Colleges. Olin operates free of departments, tenure structure, and traditional disciplinary divisions, and our tiny scale allows for an unusual amount of freedom and genuine community for its 350 undergraduates.
While the majority of our faculty come from fields of engineering and the sciences, our faculty also include scholars with expertise in anthropology, history, psychology, the fine arts, musical performance, design, and more. All students at Olin major in engineering, and they all take a minimum of 28 credit hours in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (AHS). Our AHS faculty create innovative, project-based, hands-on curricular experiences for our students that pose big questions; their courses are unlikely to be found in a course catalog anywhere else. But our community is hungry for additional and new engagements in the arts and humanities, and in summer 2017, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Olin with a grant to fund three initiatives: hosting creative residents on campus, sending our students as summer interns to arts organizations nation-wide, and inviting arts and humanities scholars to campus to workshop their own STEM-arts curricula for their home institutions.
We call our residency program an opportunity for “Creatives-in-Reference”—a variation on the traditional residency model, one in which we imagine a resident with a more community-facing role. Where traditional residencies often emphasize individually driven, private practice, we’re interested in practitioners who can propose a project(s) that would be inherently social and collaborative: a figure who would be more available “in reference” than a lone creative. (See more information on the role in the Q & A below.)
Funding and Provisions:
The stipend for the year is $75,000. The creative will also have a $10,000 budget for events on campus. If desired, creatives will have access to all fabrication facilities: wood and metal shops, CNC machines, 3D printers, materials science labs, biology wet labs, sewing machines, screen printing tools, and more. Our campus was built in 2001 and is fully and meaningfully ADA compliant. Reach out with other questions you might have about access needs.
Requirements for application:
Submit your application, including links to work, CV, three references, and answers to three essay questions we’ve provided (and listed below).
Using no more than 2000 words, divided as you like:
How might you use a residency year at Olin? Show us the topics, themes, and possible artifacts or events or performances in a project you could pursue. We know these experiences would need to be crafted and emergent in real time! But give us an idea for a proposal that would look like a successful engagement. What might it look like, a prototype that’s being hatched? We know you have to squint a little to see the promise of an idea, but give us the contours, the questions, the energy of the possible in drawings, 3D models, narrative, video, or something else that makes sense for you.
How do you imagine the “in-reference” aspect of the work in your proposed project? This experience would simultaneously be for your independent work and for collaborations in the community. “In-reference” could mean lots of things, depending on the actors involved. How might you shape the definition of the role, when you consider both your own work in the future and the possible futures for engineering education?
What does the experience of your residency look like for a student? You might consider the experiences that you either did or did not have as a creative person in training: what worked and what didn’t? How might you sculpt conditions so that students have a point of entry to your work, and so that students have a way to ask themselves what might be a new path for their future in engineering?