TEACHING

STATEMENT

More than just a medium/tool, design is a process to tell stories through the mindset of empathy and purpose – which, in turn, is the centerpiece to a human-centered design process. Our students should generate their inspiration and ideas, rather than merely utilizing the latest trend, tastes, software, or absolute reliance on one's skills. Responding to human feelings and concerns allows students to create compelling, useful, hopeful and meaningful designs for themselves, society, and the world. To communicate effectively, students need to understand cognitive development, including systems engineering and human behavioral aspects fundamental in teaching and practicing good design.  

Many students and parents question the value of studying Art, especially at a liberal arts university. They see it as frivolous and a waste of time. My focus in curriculum development has been to create interdisciplinary paths that integrate the arts in meaningful ways to counter this bias. I believe a broad intersectional education promotes innovation and creativity. Therefore, my teaching and research explore diversity coupled with skills for transitioning to tap into innovative thinking through making. I believe creativity resides in the intersection of difference. How do we lower the barriers constructed to limit creativity/invention and reconnect students to an entrepreneurial mindset?

I believe Art Departments should be the driver for entrepreneurship. The arts' very ethos embodies an entrepreneurial mindset that enables students to overcome challenges, be courageous, and take accountability for their outcomes through making. Entrepreneurship is an inherent need to continually improve your skills, fail fast, learn from your mistakes, adapt, and take continuous action on your concepts through ideation, prototyping, testing, and reflecting.

I would argue through projects like mural making, People of Poinsett, and the 24-hour branding marathon; we allow this intersection of diversity in majors to engage with Art and Design. These programs tap back into students' creativity enabling new connections to support their pathway bravely.

Over the past ten years, I've eliminated barriers in the Visual Arts to allow a broader connection within the liberal arts. I believe the Fine Art's real mission at a liberal arts university is to re-establish itself as a beacon of entrepreneurial creativity, inspiration, mindfulness, resilience, and curiosity through the practice of making and reflection in the hearts and minds of students. To help students deepen their appreciation for studying Art's value and usefulness, we created an experiential Major Map (see below link). This platform has been adopted campus-wide to guide students through their educational pathway.

These ideals were central in my spearheading of a new, intersectional Masters program with Furman's Communication Studies, English, Business, and Art departments in Strategic Design. The Master of Arts in Strategic Design exemplifies the value of a diverse liberal arts education rooted in theory with a pre-professional institute in Miami Ad School at Atlanta. This blended learning environment has created a platform for students to explore human-centered design innovation from a liberal arts perspective while cultivating pragmatic, entrepreneurial competencies, and developing a professional portfolio.

Major Map Art Studio

2020 Ross McClain

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