Research and Scholarship

Honoring Dean Sparks through Inquiry and Community


 
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SUMMARY: The Sparks Research Symposium, held on March 25, 2022, to recognize the late Dean George Sparks’ commitment to supporting student and faculty research, featured faculty and students from all three of the schools in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University.


By Erin Phillippi (‘08M), JMU Research & Scholarship

The Sparks Research Symposium, held on March 25, 2022, to recognize the late Dean George Sparks’ commitment to supporting student and faculty research, featured faculty and students from all three of the schools in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at James Madison University. The event included faculty and alumni PechaKucha presentations, student poster presentations, and a lecture and reception celebrating Madison Scholar Rich Hilliard, all of which were supported by development awards and connections facilitated by JMU’s rich array of community contacts.

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At the student research poster session, Research & Scholarship spoke with Theatre major Ben Steinhauer (’22), where he explained that his project allowed him to work with alumna sound designer Anna-Lee Craig. Learning about the innovative designs she developed for Hamilton on Broadway gave Ben the chance to apply the same techniques here at JMU.

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The faculty mentorship Isabella “Bee” Swatosh (’23) received after changing her major made the task of presenting her multimedia work to strangers at a student-curated art show at the OASIS Gallery in downtown Harrisonburg an empowering experience. Originally working in the College of Science and Mathematics, Bee moved from bench science to graphic design, allowing her to focus on the multimedia techniques she loves.

 xaiver_williams_resized.pngR&S also caught up with Xaiver Williams (’23), representing a student-faculty cohort that worked together in a professional learning community for pre-service music educators. Using disability studies as a lens for their scholarship, the group reconsidered pedagogy, curriculum and other critical aspects of learning ecosystems, particularly as they intersect with inclusion and anti-ableist practices.

christie_matthews_resized.pngCollaboration and inclusion were critical components in Caraline Christie's (’22) and Aliza Matthews’ (’22) fellowship with the Gilliam Center for Entrepreneurship. Their work started with an interdisciplinary collaboration between Dance and Occupational Therapy, providing in-person and virtual dance classes for clients with Parkinson's Disease. Along with support from GCFE, the team consulted with students from the School of Media Arts and Design to build their brand.

grace_templeton_resized.pngMotivated by the learning-community scholarship she completed with Xaiver Williams, Grace Templeton (’23) continued the application of her disability studies-based pedagogy in a music unit that focused on music-making and songwriting, primarily via ukulele, all designed to be accessible for adults with developmental disabilities. After graduation, Templeton hopes to continue her research in the United Kingdom with the Fulbright Program.

The Sparks Research Symposium highlighted the incredible variety of student and faculty scholarship that is taking place in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, made possible through generous student support and robust relationships.

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Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Last Updated: Friday, May 20, 2022

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