College of Visual and Performing Arts Stories

“Emerging Creatives” from Top Research Institutions Convene at James Madison University

a2ru Student Summit

February 5, 2019 - More than 80 students and 10 faculty members from 26 research universities in North and South America will convene for The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) 2019 Emerging Creatives Student Summit from February 7-10 at James Madison University, an a2ru partner university. Participants, including 12 students from Virginia universities (six from JMU), will explore interdisciplinary research and practice addressing the theme of “food and place,” discussing issues such as food insecurity, the impact of food production on the environment, and the relationship between food and place.

This summit represents the sixth of a2ru’s emerging creative student summits, which are designed to have emerging scholars, engineers, artists and scientists get a head start on interdisciplinary research, practice and collaboration. Previous summits engaged on issues of creative placemaking, water, spectacle, and social justice.

Students will have access to the following industry experts/artists and faculty mentors during the summit:

  • JMU alumna and former JMU art professor Stephanie Williams, a multimedia artist and current professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) whose work focuses on food and culture
  • Michelle Hesse, director of agency relations at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and former JMU dietetics professor
  • Michael Snell-Feikema, a former history professor and a peace and solidary activist for the unionization campaign of Harrisonburg-area poultry workers
  • Ian Cheney, documentary filmmaker and producer of the Peabody Award-winning film King Corn
  • Kate Daughdrill, artist, urban farmer, writer and speaker and founder of Burnside Farms in Detroit
  • Ross Gay, award-winning American poet, author, editor and professor at Indiana University

The a2ru annual Emerging Creatives Student Summit brings together students who have an interest in the arts, crossing disciplinary boundaries, and developing collaborative projects. Summits have a strong project-based component with activities such as panel discussions with special guests, keynote speakers, site visits or field trips, performances and exhibitions, networking opportunities, and skill-building experiences throughout to collaboratively solve challenges with projects that integrate the arts and design with other disciplines to produce new knowledge; as part of a process of systematic questioning and inquiry; as part of creative activity and scholarship; as a mode of creative activity and scholarship; and in the exploration and discovery of processes, information, applications, ideas or performances.

More than 80 students from a2ru partner universities, including the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech, will organize into 20 interdisciplinary cohorts from diverse areas of study. Participants will compete for grants to continue any promising collaborations started at the summit.

The a2ru is a partnership of over 40 institutions committed to ensuring the greatest possible institutional support for the full spectrum of arts and arts-integrative research, curricula, programs, and creative practice for the benefit of all students and faculty at research universities and the communities they serve.

Join the conversation online by using #a2uFood. For more information about the event, visit


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Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2019

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