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Inaugural ‘Harmony Fellows’ Blend Disciplines, Forge New Directions for ARHU and UMD

January 31, 2024 College of Arts and Humanities | History | Art History and Archaeology | School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures | Art | The Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Classics | American Studies

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Seven pairs of fellows, from ARHU and beyond, are working on a range of projects to innovate curricula, research and programming.

By ARHU Staff 

A plan for more public art on campus. An exhibition that visually represents engineering research at UMD. And a digital humanities project to map Maryland’s culinary histories.

These are among the projects receiving support through the College of Arts and Humanities’ new “Harmony of Interdisciplinarity” fellowship program, launched by Dean Stephanie Shonekan in Fall 2023 to foster collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to curriculum, research and programming. In total, seven pairs of fellows—from ARHU and beyond—have been awarded in the program’s inaugural year. 

“I’m so excited about the work proposed by our first cohort of Harmony Fellows,” Shonekan said. “Their projects will show the deeply positive impact we can have when we emerge from our silos to work together, synergizing our strengths and areas of specialization.” 

Harmony Fellows each receive $1,000; projects will be piloted in the 2024–25 academic year. The program also requires participation in three cohort roundtables to generate brainstorming and track progress. Fellows will present their ideas in a public forum at the end of the year.

The inaugural Harmony Fellows and their projects are as follows: 

Peter Wien, professor of history, and Karin Zitzewitz, professor and chair of the Department of Art History and Archaeology, will create a new intellectual space within ARHU to bridge work across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. They will use the Harmony Fellowship to assemble a working group that will serve and grow interest among students and faculty to understand cross-cultural connections in the Global South, with an emphasis on responding to threats to cultural heritage, including those from regional conflicts such as the Israel-Gaza war, climate change, and others. 

Abigail McEwen, associate professor of Latin American art history who leads the Carillon Art and Activism Community, and Charles R. Reuning, associate vice president and chief facilities officer, will partner to establish guidelines and best practices to support the regular installation of temporary works of public art on campus. With the belief that public art can cultivate a strong sense of community and campus identity, they aim to meaningfully shape dialogues about issues facing and concerning the campus community through art installations. The fellowship will support collaboration between students, faculty and Facilities Management staff to research and discuss elements including site preparation requirements, installation logistics, artwork and landscape maintenance programs and more. 

Nacie Grigsby, assistant director of academic administration in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and Elaine Rudder, assistant program director of human resources in the School of Public Health (SPH), will work to grow tools and space for faculty and staff who are committed to anti-racist cultures, climates, pedagogy, and research to connect across the University of Maryland. They aim to build connection and community among and between faculty and staff in ARHU and SPH and to help Black and Brown staff and faculty to advance in their careers. 

Cy Keener, assistant professor of sculpture and emerging technology, and Derek Paley, the Willis H. Young Jr. Professor of Aerospace Engineering Education and director of the Maryland Robotics Center, will present an exhibition that visually represents and analyzes some of the scientific and engineering research conducted at UMD. “Convergence: The Intersection of Art, Science, and Engineering @ UMD” will include a curated selection of still and moving images submitted by faculty and graduate students from the UMD science and engineering communities. 

Chiara Graf, assistant professor in the Department of Classics, and Chelsea Stolt, a Ph.D. student in the College of Education, will develop a partnership between UMD’s classics department, the College of Education and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art (NMAA) to diversify and decolonize classics courses. Specifically, they aim to expand students’ conception of Greco-Roman antiquity by exposing students to artifacts from the civilizations of North Africa, the Levant (encompasses the countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Syria, and Turkey) and South Asia held in the NMAA’s collection.

Shelbi Meissner, assistant professor in the Harriet Tubman Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Bayley Marquez, assistant professor in the Department of American Studies, will develop the Indigenous Futures Faculty Fellowship to empower faculty to design an interdisciplinary “Indigenous Futures Certificate” for undergraduates at UMD. This is a foundational step toward an eventual full-fledged Indigenous studies minor and graduate certificate. 

Psyche Williams-Forson, professor and chair in the Department of American Studies, and Madeline Hsu, professor of history and chair of the Center for Global Migration, will create an open source, interactive mapping platform to explore the culinary histories of ethnic communities in Maryland. “Exploring the Migrant Table: Maryland’s Ethnic Foodways Project” will enable students to learn about the state’s diverse ethnic and immigrant communities, histories and cultures through food studies and migration with an emphasis on ethnic food businesses.

Graphic by Jaye Nelson.