Art Biennials, Global Humanities, and Socially Engaged Education

Art Biennials, Global Humanities, and Socially Engaged Education
2015 to 2016
Undergraduate Research

This HWL project expands the undergraduate research component of two major projects by Pedro Lasch, Associate Research Professor in Duke's Department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies. The first is HOW TO KNOW: The Protocols and Pedagogy of National Abstraction, a work commissioned for the 2015 Creative Time Summit at the 56th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. The second is a new Mass Open Online Course entitled The ART of the MOOC, co-taught by Lasch and Creative Time chief curator Nato Thompson.

Over the past four decades, Creative Time has commissioned and presented ambitious public art projects with thousands of artists throughout New York City, across the country, around the world—and now even in outer space. They are acclaimed for the innovative and meaningful projects they have commissioned, from Tribute in Light, the twin beacons of light that illuminated lower Manhattan six months after 9/11, to bus ads promoting HIV awareness, to Paul Chan’s production of Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, and much more. Creative Time is committed to presenting pieces at the 2015 Venice Biennale that are strategically linked to global media platforms. HOW TO KNOW is one such piece. It invites audience participation at a simultaneously massive and intimate scale.

The concerns and themes behind HOW TO KNOW will inform Lasch's online course, The ART of the MOOC, as well. This six-week course will be offered for free to any interested participants worldwide in the fall of 2015. It is an unprecedented curricular experiment in public art and also the first MOOC to ever be presented as an art work in its own terms.

Both the MOOC and HOW TO KNOW will address broad topics such as the relationship of socially engaged art to Biennial culture, the state of global humanities and global education, the role of art and its institutions in the transformation of society, and the search for methods that may let us confront some of the world's most pressing issues. Very importantly, though, these broad topics will be balanced with the specificity of 'How To' segments with a wide variety of guests and participants.

Lasch's twin artistic and curricular projects will bring together interdisciplinary production teams and independent undergraduate research on overlapping areas between the main topics of art biennials, global humanities, and socially engaged education. Working next to graduate students, internationally renowned professionals, and Duke faculty advisors in specific areas, the core group of participating undergraduates (5-18) will collaboratively produce a series of segments for the Creative Time projects. These segments will be the direct result of the students’ research topics, their approach to public engagement, and their social networks interests.

Undergraduate participation on location in Venice will be open to all students enrolled in Luciana Fellin’s Duke in Venice Summer session and Orin Starn’s Duke in Venice Fall session. Durham-based students from the core group may be selected for short visits to Venice or New York, as well. Students in the core group will develop a body of individual work and research as they benefit from the year-long mentorship of Duke associate research professor Pedro Lasch (Art, Art History & Visual Studies). This work may include a distinction thesis project in the case of seniors.

Participation is not restricted to the core group, however. Undergraduates can join for just one or all phases of the project, from the 2015 summer/fall research and production stage in Durham through the summer or fall Duke in Venice sessions, the Venice Creative Time Summit (August, 2015), and the subsequent New York Creative Time Summit (October, 2015). The sequence will conclude with Lasch's Spring 2016 course, Social Art Practice & Socially Engaged Humanities.


Pedro Lasch
Associate Research Professor, Art, Art History & Visual Studies


New Course Teaches Socially Engaged Art in Concept and Practice
New Course Teaches Socially Engaged Art in Concept and Practice
-- Jan 14 2016

Pedro Lasch, Associate Research Professor in Art, Art History & Visual Studies, is teaching a Spring 2016 course Social Art Practice and Socially Engaged Humanities, that is connected to a... Read More

7,000 Students, 900 Hours, 29 Lecturers, 1 MOOC
7,000 Students, 900 Hours, 29 Lecturers, 1 MOOC
-- Apr 12 2016

For the last half of a year, Art, Art History and Visual Studies professor Pedro Lasch convened 7,000 students from around the world to answer one question:... Read More