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Davis Foundation Grant to Help Grow Partnered Studios

mural of tree reading love, unity, faith, courage, justice, forgiveness

The School of the Arts was recently awarded a grant from the Davis Education Foundation, which will focus on developing the college’s partnered studios programs through the college’s Engagement Lab.

Partnered studios integrate teaching, research, and hands-on practice to address social challenges in the local community and society as a whole. Partnered studio courses allow students, faculty, and outside community organizations to collaborate in an alternative learning environment.

“The grant is designed to have an impact outside of the classroom, just as much as cultivate learning in the classroom,” says Eric Gordon, director of the Engagement Lab at Emerson College.

The $213,713 grant will be used to build a sustainable infrastructure for the program, enhancing the scale, visibility, interest, and effectiveness of the offered courses. While the college has conducted partnered studio classes in the past, they have been typically been ad hoc.

Gordon has taught in partnered studios programs for three years. He is currently one of three community partners teaching Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence, an initiative that looks at how we understand gun violence and how we can work to eliminate firearm assaults and deaths by gun violence in the Boston area.

Gordon is looking forward to using the grant to garner more support through faculty training and development. This summer, 15 faculty members who plan to work in new Engagement Lab courses in Fall 2022 will participate in a workshop to learn how to teach and engage in community collaboration, support outside guests who are valuable partners, and work towards creating a material plan for how to teach partnered studio classes, since they vary from traditional courses, Gordon said.

“The grant allows us to support faculty and students in the ways they need to be supported. It also makes us positioned well to bring in additional support,” he says.

In addition to creating additional opportunities for programmatic growth and sustainability, the grant also will provide the resources to document and archive progress, and make the programs more visible and accessible to all.

Dean of the School of the Arts Rob Sabal said he is excited for the opportunity to make partnered studios more accessible to both the Emerson community and outside community members.

“And through these courses, it creates a rich network of relationships that not only raises Emerson’s visibility in the community but identifies Emerson as a key partner in making Boston a more democratic, resilient, peaceful, and beautiful city,” Sabal says.

The Engagement Lab will launch a second program in the Fall, which will center around topics in environmental justice.

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