Pratt Institute will welcome representatives from 40 colleges of art and design across North America to take part in the Pratt Academic Leadership Summit on Sustainability (PALSS) from September 29 through October 2, 2010 at Pratt’s Manhattan Campus and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. The event, which aims to help colleges work collectively to build a strategic plan for integrating environmental sustainability education into art and design programs, will focus on three themes – the future of design education, curricula for a new generation of artists and designers, and strategies for organizational change.

Summit fellows have been appointed by the presidents of their institutions to participate in a collaborative effort that will link the resources of independent art and design colleges around critical environmental and social issues. Fellows will work together to share resources, offer insights, and present case studies that will develop knowledge, leadership skills, and build strategies for integrating sustainable design into academic practices. The group will also consider academic sustainability and the strain on academic institutions to keep pace in a world that is built on immediacy and access. Each theme will be shaped and challenged through a series of interactive presentations, peer-to-peer conversations, and themed work sessions.

The purpose of the summit is to provide PALSS fellows with the tools and strategies they need to integrate sustainability into their programs and set the stage for art and design education for the class of 2030. The fellows will then become members of the PALSS Cohort-an ongoing network that will meet monthly via web conference to continue the dialogue regarding the sustainability of art and design education at independent colleges of art and design. In June 2011, the cohort will publish a report that will incorporate standards as well as broader issues related to the sustainability of higher education. A key outcome of the publication will be to serve as a model for collaboration that can be replicated by other academic institutions and organizations that would benefit from collaboration across traditional institutional boundaries.

“Right now each institution is working on its own and we’re losing valuable time,” said Debera Johnson, Director of PALSS, who leads Pratt’s Center for Sustainable Design Studies as Director of Sustainability. “To ensure a future for art and design education in the new millennia, we need to move forward from a model of competition to one of collaboration and shared resources. The aim of the PALSS summit is to encourage the integration of sustainability into our programs collectively so we can advance the academic dialogue to the next level.”

Bill Barrett, Executive Director, Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design, noted that one of the great advantages of a consortium like AICAD is the ability of similar institutions to work together to address critical issues on its campuses. “I am grateful to Pratt for its leadership in gathering key personnel from AICAD schools so we may all learn from each other and improve our sustainability efforts,” added Barrett.

Ariel Muller, Associate Director of the summit and a sustainability consultant with a master’s degree in business from Bainbridge Graduate Institute, said, “We have already started a dialog with the PALSS fellows in preparation for the summit and are impressed with the level of engagement and expertise everyone is bringing to the collaboration. Everyone has a strong commitment to finding new ways to work together and accelerate the process of integrating sustainability into design practices.”

The summit is partially funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Grant from the U.S. Department of Education and the Association of Independent Colleges Art and Design (AICAD).

Participants include the following colleges of art and design:

Alberta College of Art + Design
Art Academy of Cincinnati
Art Center College of Design
Art Institute of Boston
California College of Arts
California Institute of the Arts
Cleveland Institute of Art
College for Creative Studies
Columbus College of Art & Design
Corcoran College of Art + Design
Cornish College of the Arts
Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Kansas City Art Institute
Laguna College of Art and Design
Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts
Maryland Institute College of Art
Massachusetts College of Art and Design
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Moore College of Art & Design
Montserrat College of Art
Nova Scotia School of Art & Design
Pacific Northwest College of Art
Parsons The New School for Design
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Pratt Institute
Ontario College of Art & Design
Oregon College of Art & Craft
Otis College of Art and Design
Rhode Island School of Design
Ringling College of Art and Design
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
School of Visual Arts

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