April 26–27, 2019

Faculty in the College of Fine and Applied Arts pursue a range of methods in scholarship and creative practice that offer models for creative, collaborative, interdisciplinary work. Whether the work of designers, arts practitioners, social scientists, or humanists, our research is theoretically expansive and practically engaged. In labs and studios, in seminars and symposia, onstage, and in the built and shaped environment, we have developed critical modes of analysis and problem solving. We celebrate the accomplishments of the past and chase unknown futures.

This two-day symposium offers us a chance to reflect on what makes our work unique and uniquely valuable. It gives us an opportunity to articulate what our scholarship and creative practice offer to a university seeking ever more social, cultural, and intellectual creativity and to a community searching for the human spark that illuminates the darkness.

The conference symposium will take place in three panels and a closing roundtable over two days. Each of the panels will bring local faculty and graduate students into dialogue with distinguished visitors to explore elements of our widely varied methods in the college. The closing round table will engage faculty from the Urbana campus in a discussion aimed at envisioning the future of arts and design research for our college and the campus at large.

All sessions will take place on the Fourth Floor of Levis Faculty Center, 919 West Illinois Street, Urbana.

Keynote Speakers


Friday, April 26, 2019

Panel 1: Design Research: Beyond "Design Thinking"

This panel explores the methods of design research, building on the work of the Design Research Initiative and offering insights into the modes of activity that produce creative insight and new solutions to problems at many scales in the design fields.

  • Chair: David Hays, Department of Landscape Architecture, School of Art and Design, U of I
  • Stan Ruecker, School of Art and Design, U of I
  • Marci Uihlein, Illinois School of Architecture, U of I
  • Bernard Canniffe, Graphic Design, Iowa State University


Opening Remarks: Kevin Hamilton, Dean and Professor, College of Fine and Applied Arts

Keynote 1: Terry Irwin, Carnegie Mellon University

“Designing for Systems-Level Change (is inherently transdisciplinary)"

Opening Reception

Stage 5, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Continental Breakfast

Panel 2: Humanities and Social Sciences in the Arts, Design, and Planning Fields: Interpretive and Analytical Synergies

Scholars pursuing interpretive and analytical research in the arts, design, and planning fields are distinct in the humanities and social sciences inasmuch as they work in proximity to practitioners of their fields and are routinely engaged in practice themselves. This panel investigates the ways that dialogue produces synergistic outcomes, while also acknowledging the tensions and friction it may produce as well.

  • Chair: Lisa Rosenthal, Department of Art History, U of I
  • David Ake, University of Miami
  • Michael Silvers, School of Music, U of I
  • Dede Ruggles, School of Architecture/Department of Art History, U of I

Coffee Break

Keynote 2: Georgina Born, Oxford University

"Interdisciplinarity: Modes, Logics, Genealogies, and Reflections"


Panel 3: Creative Practice in the Arts as Research: Flipping the Script

The fit between arts practitioners and the research function of the contemporary university is often described as a challenge; this panel aims to reframe the discussion, asking not how arts practice might be reframed to fit normative models of research, but instead asking how models of research might be revised, revisited, and renewed by drawing on the work of visual and performing artists.

  • Chair: Julie Gunn, School of Music, Lyric Theatre, U of I
  • Jorge Lucero, School of Art and Design, U of I
  • Jennifer Monson, Department of Dance, U of I
  • Lisa Dixon, Department of Theatre, U of I

Coffee Break

Keynote 3: E. Patrick Johnson, Northwestern University

“Multimodal Scholarship: The Case of Sweet Tea.

Coffee Break

Closing Roundtable: The Future of Research in the Arts and Design Fields at the U of I

  • Moderator: Gabriel Solis, School of Music, U of I
  • Valleri Robinson, Department of Theatre, U of I
  • Cynthia Oliver, Department of Dance/Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, U of I
  • Stan Ruecker, School of Art and Design, U of I
  • Arnab Chakraborty, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, U of I

Closing Gathering 

Stage 5, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave.