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    Strategic Plan: Arts and Literacy Task Force

    Draft of the Arts and Literacy Task Force Strategic Plan

    April 25, 2008

    Strategic Plan: Arts and Literacy Task Force

    We live in a highly complex and diverse world—technologically, aesthetically, linguistically, culturally, and socially. Images, sounds, movement, and print work together to create rich contexts in which people create social and cultural meaning.  The  contemporary context requires learners, teachers and scholars who are able to apply expansive understandings of “the arts” and of “literacy” in order to think and work in integrative, powerful and technologically sophisticated ways.  In our research, teaching, and community involvement through Penn State, we emphasize the negotiation of multiple linguistic and cultural differences in local and global contexts. This reflects our belief that conceptualizing literacy through multiple sign systems and with digital and assistive technologies is a critically important to understand and more successfully address the needs and interests of diverse learners.   It represents a commitment to the education of a diverse citizenry capable of participating critically in public life and of accessing multiple resources for success and satisfaction in personal, professional and civic life.  Such an approach has a strong basis in research and the call for educators to take such an stance from literacy and arts researchers and professional organizations is persistent; at Penn State, we are poised to emerge as a national leader in moving these theories and research findings into practice.  

    To develop and strengthen our leadership in literacy and the arts requires an on-going commitment from the College.  The College has been working toward this goal, but there is still much to do.  In this document, we present our vision for the integration of arts and literacy in research, undergraduate and graduate level programs, and community involvement.  We recommend that the College make three explicit commitments:

    I.    Commit to achieving national prominence in the area of arts and literacy.

    The College has the opportunity to be a prominent national leader in advocating for and enacting the importance of the arts in schools and in producing scholarship related to literacy and the arts.  We already have a sizable core of faculty with interests in the arts, media, and multiliteracies whose scholarship draws attention to Penn State and attracts graduate students with related interests to the College.  Now, we should build on that strength.  To develop this potential for national prominence, the College should:
    •    Support faculty in conducting research on arts and literacies or in utilizing arts-based research methods by supplying appropriate infrastructure support, such as:
    o    An “Idea Studio” which would provide support for faculty development wanting to use multimedia (this idea also appears in documents being produced by the strategic planning study teams on technology/ubiquitous computing and on teacher education)
    o    Ample server space for projects related to arts and literacy
    o    Staff support for design of documents, products, websites, etc.
    o    Incorporating an integrated awareness of arts and literacy into faculty development programs offered by the office of the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Research, and faculty Development, the Educational Technology center, and other entities.
    •    Establish an ongoing university-wide forum or colloquia taking on the issue of arts advocacy across a range of areas in education.  This forum could host a visiting scholar to help us envision a shared commitment to the arts and to arts-literacy connections in schools as well as foster conversations between faculty across and beyond the College.  There are already many faculty within the College and across Penn State who share an interest in advocating for the importance of the arts in schools and in their connections to literacy in particular, but these faculty lack opportunities to meet, time for collaborations to develop, and perhaps most importantly, a common vocabulary and theoretical base to undergird cross-disciplinary conversations.  A university-wide forum or colloquia would establish the College of Education as the home for such conversations at Penn State and would thus attract potential collaborators from across campus.
    •    Create space and urgency for sustained conversations among College faculty about the connections between literacy and arts, and support faculty in developing initiatives that would contribute to Penn State’s prominence in this area.
    •    Commit to making arts advocacy a part of any program or initiative where our graduates will interact with schools.  This commitment should affect, for example, curriculum design, our relationships to accreditation agencies, and the allocation of resources as they relate to teacher education programs, programs in educational leadership, and outreach work.  In other words, anyone who works with the College or its graduates in schools should know that the College values the arts and sees them as essential to the project of education, broadly conceived.
    •    Encourage collaboration and exchange of information that highlight the uses of assistive technologies in literacy and arts education and practices.
    •    Continue the practice of hiring faculty who have interests/expertise that reflect the connection to the arts, including joint appointments with arts departments where appropriate.
    •    Support faculty in conducting research on arts and literacies or in utilizing arts-based research methods through an Arts and Literacy Research Fund.  This support should take the form of funding, release time, funding for graduate student research assistants, and travel support.
    •    Establish an Arts and Literacy Postdoctoral Fellowship to be awarded to a minority scholar in the area of arts and literacy.  This postdoc could reside in any department in the College in a given year.  The fellow would be expected to hold seminars both for faculty and graduate students from across the College.  An additional goal of the postdoc would be to recruit the Fellow for permanent faculty employment at Penn State, thus supporting the College in its goal of recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce (see Framework to Foster Diversity, Challenge Four).

    II.    Commit to integrating arts and literacy in undergraduate and graduate programs.

    •    Encourage and support all of the College’s undergraduate programs in incorporating an integrated view of arts and literacies.  This support could take the form of lectures, a colloquium, discussion of potential changes to course requirements, or assistance with the creation of courses, for example.
    •    Incorporate an arts emphasis into the College’s freshman seminars.
    •    Support the existing Elementary Education (EKED) Arts and Literacy Block in the following ways:
    o    Formalize the practice of having faculty liaisons between C&I, Art Education, and Music Education departments
    o    Maintain the standard that students have 6 credits in General Education--Arts as background before they enter the EKED major, in addition to the arts experiences they have within the major
    o    Provide support for needed EDUCATE faculty development, graduate assistant orientations and workshops, and other relevant meetings to make this cross-disciplinary collaborative teaching possible
    o    Continue to fund the Galaxy program/partnership with IU10 or another program to connect EKED students to artists and offer opportunities for reflection on the role of arts in curriculum in the context of field experiences and state and disciplinary literacy standards
    o    Encourage participation by faculty from performance genres not currently reflected in the block, such as theatre and dance.
    •    Support and promote faculty in graduate programs across the College who work to develop professional knowledge and capacity in graduate students to take leadership roles in advocating for and researching issues the importance of the arts in education.  This includes:
    •    Support faculty in developing graduate courses related to the arts and literacies in the form of an Arts and Literacy Graduate Curriculum Fund providing stipends, releases, and travel support for faculty to develop course content and programs.
    •     Establish lines of funding for graduate student support particular to this emphasis in the form of Arts and Literacy Graduate Assistantships.  This would not only support graduate student research activities but would also assist the College in attracting and retaining diverse graduate students, in keeping with the proposals outlined under Challenge 3 of the College’s Framework to Foster Diversity.
    •    Help graduate students with interests in arts and literacy to locate courses and mentors across the university.  This help could take the form of lists of course offerings or introductions to faculty on a list of potential matches, for example.

    III.    Commit to working in partnerships to support the integration of arts and literacy.

    •    Establish a Partners in the Arts Fund to support faculty in bringing artists into undergraduate and graduate courses through funding for artists-in-residence, artist-faculty partnerships, and existing programs (such as the Galaxy program and artists-in-residence at the summer reading camp).  Activities supported by this fund might also include collaborations between studio art faculty on campus and education faculty, partnerships between the College and the Anderson lecture series in the School of Visual Arts and the outreach programs of the Eisenhower performance center, and similar existing programs across Penn State.