March 27, 2019

Global summer courses

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Courtesy RISD Global

In summer 2019, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will launch a series of global engagement courses designed to broaden perspectives, de-center experiences and reframe assumptions through immersive art, design and liberal arts curriculum in the Azores, Berlin, Denmark, Japan and South Africa and at RISD’s longstanding site in Rome.

RISD faculty from diverse disciplines are designing courses that engage such themes as performance and literary arts in context; the intersections of crafts, art and design; and environmental justice and sciences. Each course will engage students through experimental curriculum developed in collaboration with local partners across the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia.

In 1960, RISD launched the European Honors Program in Rome. Today, all courses at the Rome site reflect a deep commitment to liberal arts and interdisciplinary approaches to making. Summer 2019 courses will explore cultural rituals and traditions within the context of contemporary life, art and design. Robert Brinkerhoff, dean of Fine Arts and professor of Illustration, will work with students to reframe Dante Alighieri’s L’Inferno, traveling across Rome, Florence and Orvieto to inspire contemporary responses to Dante’s poem. In Drinking, the Italian Way: Re-Evaluating the Vessel, Industrial Design Critic Dana D’Amico will challenge the way rituals and cultural norms determine what and how we drink. By observing the work of traditional glassblowers in Murano, artistic explorations at the Venice Biennale and old and new coffee vessels at the Illy museum in Trieste, students will reconsider the drinking vessel and create new rituals using ceramics, performance and other mediums.

A new course taught by Assistant Professor of Literary Arts + Studies Avishek Ganguly will examine the theatrical and performative nature of history and public memory in post-war Berlin. Looking at the memorialization of the Holocaust, the Bauhaus, Germany’s colonial repression in Namibia, as well as the decadence of the Industrial Revolution, students will develop conceptual discourse on the productive lens performance offers for engaging with difficult histories.

Senior Printmaking Critic Daniel Heyman will lead Papermaking & Puppet Theater in collaboration with the Awagami paper factory in Tokushima, Japan. Students will explore the traditional crafts of Nagashi-zuki papermaking and develop new concepts for papermaking. In Kyoto, they’ll study Japanese performance arts such as Noh, Kabuki and Butoh theater, as well as Buddhist practices and rituals. Putting this research into practice on Shikoku Island, students will use their paper creations to build sets for traditional puppet theater.

In Denmark, Nathaniel Smith of RISD’s Furniture Design department will lead a design seminar and workshop exploring contemporary Danish design and the historic and contemporary influences that feed the country’s culture of integrating design and sustainability into daily life. With a focus on furniture, architecture, city planning, lighting, ceramics and textiles, students will engage with questions of sustainability in the practice of contemporary design.

History, Philosophy & the Social Sciences Lecturer Lucy Spelman will focus on biodiversity and wildlife protection in Art & Science of Conservation, a class that will take place in South Africa. Offered in collaboration with field guide educational organization Bushwise, the class will engage local community members in the learning process.

All summer courses are open to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in art and design colleges around the world as well as professionals practicing in the field. Each course is worth three RISD credits. Registration closes on April 11, 2019. Visit for further information.

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