In the Loop
Student Stories : Feb 25, 2015

a2ru Emerging Creatives Summit challenges students to solve problems of cities in flux

By Leland Henry

Three College of the Arts graduate students put their multitalented minds to the test at the second annual Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) Emerging Creatives Student Summit. Hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University, this year’s conference focused on the problems faced by cities in flux and how students can solve them.

Assistant dean for research, technology and administrative affairs at the College of the Arts and former associate director at a2ru, Anthony Kolenic, describes the summit as a forum for students to meet, exchange ideas and energy, and work with their future colleagues, as well as a way for students to serve as ambassadors of the training and experiences they have received at UF.

Held Jan. 28-31, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia, PULSE: Creative Collaborations for Cities in Flux challenged more than 100 undergraduate and graduate students to explore creative transdisciplinary collaboration as a means to help make the city of the future. The students were put into groups based on interests such as housing, sustainability, social issues, politics and culture.

Juan Griego, a third-year MFA Art + Technology student chose the group focused on energy and how communication-based projects can solve the increasing demand of energy in growing cities.

“We chose to come up with a model to teach people how to master their inventive skills,” said Griego. “You can use things like rain gutters, sewers, bicycles, shoes and, all of these things that are always moving and generating energy can be tapped into to generate energy that converts to electricity.”

Another UF student, Fuer Liu, a third-year MFA Graphic Design student, is using her experience from the summit to form her thesis on local culture in an urban space. She said her biggest takeaways were the possible future connections and collaborations and feedback from students of varying areas of study.

Kolenic said a2ru, of which UF is a founding member, is becoming increasingly important to the scholarly life of universities across the country.

“The world has challenges that need the best possible means of addressing them, and emerging creative leaders like those from UF attending this conference are among those who will solve them,” said Kolenic.