[iDC] sharing "new media" curricula/potentials

Adrianne Wortzel sphinx at camouflagetown.tv
Fri Jan 26 10:33:27 EST 2007

Dear All:

Congratulations on this terrific forum. The following are ruminations 
on my own experiences, but I put them forward in case they may be of 

I am an artist who is also a Professor of Communication design at New 
York City College of Technology in Brooklyn New York, as well as an 
Adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Cooper Union for 
the Advancement of Science and Art and a member of the Faculty of the 
Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program at CUNY's 
Graduate Center. This litany of credentials was achieved almost as an 
aside to a struggle to create conditions to allow the development of 
meaningful and effective curriculum for the advancement of creative 
work in any discipline in these institutions. By creative work I mean 
any endeavor in any discipline engaging conceptual development 
embedded in new technologies. My driving point here, simultaneously 
considered "visionary" and "totally insane" by some of my peers (and 
that's not helpful either way), is the importance of putting forward 
"invention" in the classroom as the overall umbrella for developing 

To sum up prior to the short digressions below, at any one or more of 
these institutions, I am involved in these endeavors: listed in the 
order of my favorite things to do from 1 to 4.

1.  The creation of labs and production facilities for innovative 
research and practice out of which newly appropriate curriculum can 
2.  Individual interdisciplinary courses.
3.  Developing protocols in an institution for considering curriculum 
development solutions as a process, not a "package"
4. Full programs housed in an upper or new division, which are linked 
to individual departmental courses plus new courses.

Cooper Union
At Cooper Union I was invited to move from the Art School to the 
School of Engineering in 1997 because the truly visionary Chair of 
Mechanical Engineering instituted a course called "Design, Illusion 
and Reality" (sort of reminiscent of Lacan's Borromean knot 
J[http://web.uvic.ca/~saross/lacan.html#RSI_and_the_Borromean} J This 
course is for collaborative projects between art, architecture and 
engineering undergraduates and is offered on different topics each 
year - some recent topics being: Urban Planning, Building Bridges, 
Robotics And Theater, Inventing The Inventor. Currently I am teaching 
"Where Will We Live?  Self-Replicating Habitats" with a roboticist 
since a high point of "Building Bridges" was a collaborative student 
project which designed a self-replicating and self-repairing bridge 
for the Bering Strait.  In each course, whether students are creating 
something that is  "real" or conceptual they explore both the 
"environmental" conditions their product or process is subject to as 
well as develop appropriate research methodologies. These courses 
have had a profound influence on students who have taken it as they 
mingle in each other's disciplines and adds some credence to 
developing a whole program based on its premises of  "real, imaginary 
and symbolic". (documentation, in need of update, is at 
This course is supported by a lab which is both a video production 
facility and a robotics lab.

Citytech is one of twenty-one Colleges in a cumbersome City 
University of New York system and the only College considered a 
"technical" college. Therefore, for many years it was considered a 
"trade" school, which really sells it short.  When I got there in 
1998 it was apparent that the faculty consisted of outstanding 
researchers and innovators in their fields who were trapped in 
outdated curriculum and overwhelmed by a staggering course load only 
recently reduced from 27 to 24 hours. For me, the College offered a 
luscious and inviting menu of expertise -Departments in the Division 
of Design and Technology include: Physics, Architectural Technology 
Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Systems, 
Entertainment Technology, Mechanical Engineering And Industrial 
Design.  Also included in that Division is my dept, Advertising 
Design and Graphic Arts ("ADGA") Up till now, this has been the only 
"content" providing dept. Currently, ADGA houses the digital video, 
multimedia, and IT courses. We also have a new Administration that is 
ready and willing (with resources) to revolutionize the College. I am 
on many a steering committee for this and it is being accomplished in 
the three ways listed above which are not ultimate solutions, but 
steps in a process.  For instance, I am initiating a new CUNY-funded 
lab which is a combination of a video production studio, physical 
computing facility and robotics laboratory.  The College is also 
reorganizing depts. and they are building facilities such as a new 
huge video production studio for college wide use. I hope to get back 
to this forum in the near future about overall programs being written.

The Interactive Pedagogy Certificate Program at the CUNY Graduae 
Center offers doctoral students a chance to develop their own 
technological tools for teaching in their discipline.  This is quite 
nice because it drives these students who are about to enter 
classrooms as teachers away from the teaching 'packages" towards 
their own, custom-made pedagogical tools, and gives them an 
opportunity to start from scratch in considering how they would 
optimally want their students to learn their subject and whether or 
not they want students to engage in interactivity with a teaching 
tool and/or with each other.  Workshops in technological tools 
accompany the courses according to student need. Both the faculty and 
the students are from myriad disciplines.  The web site at 
http://web.gc.cuny.edu/provost/apit/gcitp/ - contains past syllabi, 
but actually that is all changing now as we are going to do it as a 
seminar series for the first time this semester. It has been decided 
to make the courses more experiential in terms of hands-on 
development of tools.

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