A Triumphant 2018-2019

Shannon Jackson, Associate Vice Chancellor

Another triumphant year.  Another year of hard work and visionary commitment to advancing Creativity for the Greater Good.

Now that graduation rituals are over, we are looking back and looking ahead.  From both perspectives, it is striking to see both continuity and change in all of our projects.  We started the Arts + Design Initiative a little less than four years ago -- without our mega website, with one borrowed staff member, and with keen hopes for mobilizing UC Berkeley’s electric (if diffuse) creative culture. At this juncture, we now have a robust platform and thriving programs in all four domains of A+D work—Research, Teaching, Community Life, and Communication. Meanwhile, we have innovated this year within and across all four domains, integrating existent and new resources to amplify engagement and innovation. All of this activity coincided this year with the evolution of UC Berkeley’s new Campus Strategy—offering us the chance to demonstrate the role of Creativity in the future of our Student Experience, our Research Mission, and in our Public Compact with the region, the state, and the world.  Explore our End-of-Year Newsletter to hear about our projects, our impact, and about how YOU can be involved. 

With a tremendously successful artist residency for internationally renowned theater artist (and alum) Stan Lai, we continued our commitment to the creation of new artistic work and to technological innovation. Learn from Stan’s lectures on creativity; learn about the creation of his new immersive performance AGO; and sample our use of AR/VR technologies to deepen that immersion.  Throughout the year, flagship programs like A+D Mondays and A+D Thursdays have become prime public programs for disseminating the ideas, people, and creative achievement that most compel the Berkeley faculty.  Produced in collaboration with dozens of campus partners, we focused the theme of Fact and Fiction in the evenings and on Migration and Transformation in the afternoons. Along the way, we received a boost from entities like the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine who used Berkeley as a site for disseminating their recent report on the role of the arts and humanities in STEM/M education.  Stay tuned for next year when these programs will focus on UC Berkeley’s Signature Research Initiatives, exploring how the arts, culture, and design advance the future of Democracy, Equity, Health, Environment, and Inclusive Intelligence.  

Meanwhile, our campus’s strategy for enriching The Student Experience have brought clarity and energy to an even wider variety of A+D projects.  Our A+D website ensures the ability of our students (and their parents) to CONNECT with our campus by amassing programs and events from dozens of creative departments and venues, along with nearly one hundred student clubs. The goals of connection and ENGAGEMENT got quite a push this year with the development of our Arts Passport inside our campus’s new mobile app; conceived in collaboration with our Chief Technology Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, the passport provides opportunities for creative encounter to all Berkeley students, chiming with the goals of cultural equity by removing financial barriers. Projects like our Made at Berkeley website and A+D Book encourage students and faculty to REFLECT on their products and creative processes.  Of course, our educational work has been most deeply devoted on allowing students to DISCOVER themselves and their world through creative means. Whether in our Creative Discovery Grant Program, our flagship public course on the arts and design, or in our emerging Creative Careers platform, we foreground creativity as both method and goal in cross-disciplinary Discovery. 

Finally, none of the above would be possible without communication, both internally on our campus and externally to our community. On a large campus such as ours, it can be hard to find one’s way. Even with our vast creative landscape, it can be hard for our public to understand the creative range and impact of UC Berkeley. As our campus commits to re-igniting a 21st century public compact, stories of creative impact are essential.  As the co-PI of a new UCOP grant on the role of California's public universities in creative place-making, I’m so glad that we will get the chance to amplify those stories. Meanwhile, the stories assembled in Promise of Berkeley, on our website, and in newsletters like this one, continue the process.  

We hope that you will be part of the process, part of the strategy, and part of our story for years to come.

Fiat Lux and Go Bears,

Shannon Jackson