Skidmore College has received a grant of $750,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for "Project VIS," an initiative to advance strategic, pedagogical, and liberal learning goals in the area of visual literacy and communication.
Project VIS will help expand and focus Skidmore's efforts to help students both create images that can effectively communicate their thoughts and evaluate critically the complex meanings embedded in images. The college believes these proficiencies are fundamental to critical thinking and responsible citizenship in the 21st century. John Anzalone, professor of French and Class of 1948 Professor for Excellence in Teaching, will oversee the grant's implementation.
The Andrew Mellon Foundation grant will support the creation of three innovative, integrative, and complementary teaching and learning initiatives. The John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative will be an interdisciplinary center where the stories of human life are translated into documentary forms. Activities within the Moore Center will include courses, exploration of the contemporary and historical life of Saratoga County and Skidmore College, and a summer "Storytellers' Institute" that will afford students the opportunity for an intense and focused period of documentary study with faculty members and outside experts. A new interdisciplinary academic minor in Media and Film Studies explores the function and structure of written, aural, and visual communication systems, while a Visualization Forum will both overlap and reach beyond the network of faculty involved in the Moore Collaborative and the new minor to enhance, increase, and diversify the number of coached visual projects across the curriculum.
The awarding of this grant represents "a wonderful endorsement of Skidmore as a college on the cutting edge of liberal education," said Skidmore President Philip A. Glotzbach. "The focus on visual communication is critical, considering the growing ubiquity of images in our lives and students' consequent need to achieve a more sophisticated understanding of visual communication and all that it entails for our society."
Funds from the grant will support two postdoctoral positions. One, in Media and Film Studies, will engage students in the theoretical, aesthetic, cultural, and practical aspects of the discipline. The other, in Visualization Technologies, will complement existing Skidmore faculty expertise. The grant will also support workshops, residencies, a speaker series, and community partnerships.
The Moore Collaborative is being launched with support from John B. Moore, son of Skidmore's second president, Henry T. Moore; John's wife Bettina Towne Moore, Skidmore Class of 1941; and Bettina's son and daughter-in-law James and Sue Towne.
Project VIS complements, and is an intentional outgrowth of, the pedagogical work, funded with an endowment challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, associated with Skidmore's Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery. Borrowing from the Tang's Mellon Seminar model of faculty engagement, with this grant Skidmore intends to create a cohort of faculty with growing expertise in visualization techniques and technologies by offering support for the development of pilot courses that especially foreground visual literacy.