Wednesday, August 21, 2019

UIS Associate Professor Hinda Seif spends summer examining the role of museums in civic life in Washington, D.C.

Seif learning about the work of the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative.
As part of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant, University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Sociology/Anthropology and Women/Gender Studies Hinda Seif spent the month of July exploring museums and curated cultural collections around Washington, D.C.

During the NEH Summer Institute for College and University Teachers, Seif lived and worked at Georgetown University and the Smithsonian Institution with 24 colleagues from across the nation.

“We grappled with questions such as: what is the role of museums in building robust civic culture in the United States today?” said Seif. “We also discussed how museums can better serve groups that historically have been objectified by museum practices yet marginalized in their leadership, and the opportunities, challenges, and potential pitfalls of integrating digital resources into museums.”

Seif was selected for the NEH Summer Institute because of her research, writings and teaching on women artists of Mexican ancestry in Chicago, which includes their relationships to the city's museums.

Seif with other faculty at the National Museum of American Indian.
The NEH group toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture and met with interim director Spencer Crew. They also discussed the social and economic value of humanities education with NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede and toured the Cultural Resources Center for the National Museum of the American Indian, where they learned how staff care for one of the world’s most expansive collections of Native objects.

“The institute helped me think more deeply about the ‘decolonization’ of Chicago's museums, and I am sharing some of my new Smithsonian contacts with Chicago artists,” said Seif.

“Our discussions on how to make museum decisions based on the cultures and interests of young visitors are highly relevant to my teaching. I plan to bring what I learned to the classroom at UIS, including information from special exhibits on women's suffrage, student activism related to the history of slavery at Georgetown University, and discussions about native peoples,” she added.

Monday, August 19, 2019

UIS faculty help to organize workshop on Urban Sustainability focused on water, energy and climate change

Two faculty members from the University of Illinois Springfield recently helped to organize a National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop on Urban Sustainability, with a focus on water, energy and climate change, as part of the University of Illinois System’s Discovery Partners Institute Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability (CURES).

During the one-and-a-half-day workshop in Chicago, more than 130 stakeholders from across the country, representing municipalities, private industry, non-profit organizations, utilities, universities and national laboratories came together to establish the foundation for a new multi-disciplinary multi-stakeholder research network that can deliver actionable research-based, cost-effective solutions to the challenges that urban communities of many sizes face.

The workshop was designed to include a broad set of stakeholders so that issues and potential solutions would be discussed from not only from scientific, engineering, and policy perspectives, but from government, city planning, business, non-profit, economic, and other arts, humanities and social science perspectives.

At the workshop, participants identified critical gaps in the implementation of solutions for sustainability challenges in energy, water and climate in a range of different types of urban systems – urban, suburban, rural – and across city sizes – small, medium and large.

UIS faculty members Anne-Marie Hanson, assistant professor of environmental studies, and Carolee Rigsbee, assistant professor of management, were part of the workshop organizing committee that helped to plan the event. Hanson was the moderator for a panel of social science, arts and humanities scholars speakers. Among the panelists was Devin Hunter, UIS assistant professor of history, who explained how retelling of history can inform community perspectives on climate change issues.

“An important message repeated at the workshop is that we have 11 years to address climate change related causes and be better prepared for its disastrous effects. Doing so is shockingly urgent- we need to act and change behaviors now,” said Rigsbee.

The workshop produced a series of projects aimed to generate and implement solutions to help address/prevent impending energy, water, and other climate change impacts in Illinois and more generally across the Midwest. CURES is now planning to apply for major funding to help move many of the identified projects forward. In the meantime, several attendees are continuing to collaborate to detail the project requirements and next steps.

Other UIS faculty members to attended the workshop include Keenan Dungey, associate vice chancellor for research and institutional effectiveness; Kamau Kemayo, associate professor and chair of African-American studies; and David Szabo, chemistry lab manager.

Learn more about the workshop and its outcomes