by NY6ThinkTank Student Fellows, Jie Li and Evian (Yiyun)
"Because the arts and humanities do not seem practical to many people, with seemingly limited career paths (which concerns many parents) and the required mastery of English language, many Chinese students hesitate to pursue their interests in the arts and humanities. Therefore, our short documentary film “Chinese Thoughts Mingle” explores and shares the stories of Chinese students who study the arts and humanities at Skidmore. We hope that it will inspire and encourage our Chinese, international, and American peers to follow their own interests and further engage in arts and humanities curriculum. The film, 8-10 minutes long, examines the personal interests and working experiences of approximately six upper-class students who have decided to share their thoughts and feelings on this important subject."
Throughout the spring semester of 2016, NY6ThinkTank Student Fellows, Jie Li and Evian (Yiyun)
interviewed five students with diverse academic backgrounds and interests: from theater to anthropology, from media and film studies to studio art. They also documented the students’ work in their respective environments.
"While editing our video footage, we found that the story of Lei Jin, an art major who just graduated, is the most compelling as well as representative of the situation that our film aims to address. Meanwhile, her story is the most straightforward and engaging. After consulting friends and documentary professionals, our final version of the film starts with a background research and shots of four other students and then merges into the main storyline of Lei Jin.
By interacting with these interviewees, we learned their personal paths they have followed, their parents’ ideas, as well as their current academic and personal lives at Skidmore College (and post-graduate plans). We hope the film could draw out an image portraying our fellows and encouraging other peers."
How Extraordinary Partnerships with the Arts and Humanities are Transforming the Way We Think, Work, and Live
Jenny Gottstein, the Director of Games at The GoGame, a company that builds interactive experiences and high-tech adventures around the world recently remarked that, "Studying Arts & Humanities engenders a healthy sense of curiosity and wonder - not only with regards to how the world actually is, but how it might be. Some might call those who chose this path of study ‘dreamers’ but the truth is, they are ‘futurists.’ And having produced interactive games for thousands of companies around the world, I can tell you, the best ones are powered by futurists."
This edited volume seeks to shift national conversations about the “crisis” in the arts and humanities to one that bespeaks of “rise” and “renaissance.” Toward this goal, writers are encouraged to portrait thinkers and doers of our time (in the US)—individuals, groups, organizations, businesses, and fields not traditionally associated with the arts and humanities, like science and mathematics—who are transforming the way we think, live, and work. Who are they? How do they apply artistic or humanistic principles? And what extraordinary partnerships are allowing them to challenge assumptions, ask new or revised questions, disrupt old practices and ways of thinking, and create alternative paths, structures, and opportunities?
In this book, the voices of students, community members, educators, scholars, and professionals from any and all fields and disciplines, enter into dialogue to showcase how deeply social and responsible transformations are being driven in partnership with the Arts and Humanities. This is an Arts and Humanities in motion, one whose core teachings are being driven by surprising new visions, in unusual spaces, by diverse communities in the United States, in a host of professional fields and changing environments. This is an Arts and Humanities in which deep scholarly knowledge is put into practice not only to envision “how the world actually is, but how it might be.”
Essays should be written in English, in clear and jargon-free language meant to reach a broad reading public. Please include specific case studies. All authors are welcome.
Please e-mail a tentative title, a 300-word abstract, a short CV or link to publications to Christine Henseler (email@example.com) by January 1st, 2017. Abstracts will be accepted before February 1st, 2017. Full chapters, ranging from 1500 and 5000 words, (or between 3 and 8 single-spaced pages), including notes, are expected by August 1st 2017.
Seeking proposals that examine questions such as:
My time working as an NY6 ThinkTank Fellow has been an absolute privilege. This experience has been a sort of driving force for me in seeking out new spaces on campus where poetry takes form and key individuals who involve themselves in these processes. I have been able to recognize the incredible talent of my classmates, I have attended fascinating events that speak to the impact of poetry, and I have further recognized my love for language. As my plans for the summer have started to take shape, I have encountered numerous employers from various industries that are seeking candidates with the skills and experiences that this blog and my humanities education have afforded me. There is perhaps nothing more valuable than being able to communicate creatively, effectively, and receptively with others, and I have watched my writing, listening, and critical thinking skills solidify as I have worked to engage with my campus and world through this blog. I feel truly lucky to have been able to share these experiences with my college peers (and perhaps also high school students and parents) in order to encourage the importance of such an education and general consideration.
Amelia Poole, NY6ThinkTank Fellow
Well Versed. In Closing…
Posted on May 12, 2016 by Amelia Poole
As my sophomore year has drawn to an end, my time as NY6 Student Fellow has ended as well. While I may still post occasionally, monthly posts will likely cease. This blog has been a wonderful tool for delving deeper into poetry, which I have become infinitely more passionate about. This blog has been my driving force for seeking out poetry events on campus, for having important conversations with my professors, and for recognizing the brilliance and talent of the classmates that surround me every day. I feel lucky to have been introduced to new faces and spaces through this venture, and I am confident that my learning within the realm of English has greatly benefited and will continue to do so.
To any and all who have read these blog entries: thank you. It is both exciting and slightly shocking that the many thoughts I have about an often-too-forgotten art are reaching an audience that hopefully enjoys such writing. I truly hope that the influence poetry has had on me will convince you that it is worth your time–be that through reading it, writing it, or taking a class on it. Further, I hope that this venture has demonstrated why an education in the humanities and a liberal arts education in general are so central to the fascination that my own education has embedded within me. Without the kind of varied, intensive, and engaged college experience I am having through these routes, I know I would lack instances like going straight from poetry class to my “Rejected Knowledge” course on alien life, the Illuminati, fairies, etc., and be able to translate questions of belief and faith back into my writing (just one of many examples of this interdisciplinary learning…see Poetry: The Ultimate Interdisciplinary Tool for more). I can rest assured that the humanities have helped me make valuable ties between my varied forms of knowledge.
As I am writing this, I am just coming from marketing internship interview. When discussing the NY6 Student Fellow segment on my resume, they echoed my sentiments about how important it is to be able to write succinctly, think critically, and communicate creatively (poetry!). This experience has given me all of that, and I do not think that this agency is alone in valuing such marketable skills. So to anyone reading who is debating jumping into the humanities: go for it. The humanities are not a waste of time, and studying them will do anything but impede your successes in the world of employment. Give yourself interesting thoughts to consider, challenge yourself to actually listen to the human voice, and find the best way for you to make yourself heard. Thank you for keeping up with Well Versed–this blog has been an absolute privilege to write!
Milinda Ajawara is a NY6 Think Tank "Next Generation" humanities contributor who worked on a project that focused on Women's Studies (also known as Women's and Gender Studies). Her project consisted of a series of interviews with Hamilton College students and faculty members of all genders. The interviews explored their knowledge of women’s and gender studies in academia and their opinion on whether or not the discipline has any impact on society.
Milinda is a Biology major and Women’s and gender studies minor student on a pre-health track. She was born in Nigeria, Africa, raised in Anaheim, California and spent a semester studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark exploring the biomedical and biotechnological industry. She hopes to go into a career in women's health as a Physician's Assistant.
Her interviews can be found at: http://ny6project.blogspot.com/
Eat Your Words! is a project analyzing how we value ingredients, serve, and enjoy food. Each is an indicator of how a society functions and its cultural norms. Food writing informs eaters about how to engage with specific foods. Food writing reflects social issues, political, technological, and agricultural changes, and global relations, among other topics. Each analysis is paired with an original composition, varying from recipes, restaurant reviews, and editorials. We are what we eat is a truism, of course. But what we eat is informed by the way food is presented to us, visually and in writing. Consciously or not, we digest these messages and opinions and thus food writing becomes part of who we are, what we think, and what we do.
Eat Your Words! is a New York 6 Think Tank Project of Tessa Jane "Flash" Kalinosky, with help from Professor Beck Krefting, Professor Dan Nathan, and Photographer Liv Anderson (and friends who eat the food she make). Tessa is a senior American studies major at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York. She has a reputation around campus for making pies and having a grumpy, fluffy dog named Ditto.
by Allison Smith, NY6 ThinkTank Student Fellow
This past week, I hosted an event called, “What’s Your Major? Exploring the Arts and Humanities.” Originally, I had planned to host an alumni panel event at Union and invite students to come and hear from successful graduates that worked within the arts and humanities. After some planning, I realized that this event would target upperclassmen who had already decided to major in the arts and humanities, and I wanted to create an event that was geared to undecided students.
I decided to host an event in a first-year residence hall because most events on campus require students to attend panels in classrooms, and I wanted the event to be informal and approachable, and not feel like a “required” event. Students at Union do not typically declare their majors or minors until their sophomore year, and during their first year students often struggle with figuring out their course of study since they have not had the opportunity to candidly ask questions to upperclassmen. Since I am a NY6 Think Tank Fellow working to promote the arts and humanities on Union’s campus I decided to invite successful upperclassmen from a variety of fields within the arts and humanities to come speak at the event.
The first part of the event featured a workshop session where I talked about the goals of the NY6 Think Tank, and I opened a discussion about the perceived value, and lack thereof, of majoring in the arts and humanities. I asked the first-years what they were intending to study, and many responded with “economics” or “engineering.”
When I asked the students why, they responded that these areas of study seemed to lead to job offerings and were valued by employers. I then asked the students to write down a stereotype about someone who majors in the arts and humanities on a post-it, and stick it on a poster so that we had a clear visual for the group. I then read the post-its aloud and some of the responses were “broke,” “not too many job opportunities,” and “not athletic.”
I then proceeded to talk about how there is a growing body of research that demonstrates the value of studying the arts and humanities and that they create students who can critically think, effectively communicate, and have creative impulses. I set up a scenario where two economics majors applied for a job at a high-powered business on Wall Street. One person only majored in economics, and the other double-majored in economics and music. I then articulated that the applicant who majored in music had “added value” over the other applicant since they brought a whole other set of skills to the job and had demonstrated a passion of theirs.
My name is Shauntai Quinlon and I would like to present to you my video that I created for my NY6 Think Tank Project. I am currently a Theatre major at Union College and I absolutely enjoy being a part of that department. While taking theatre courses, I noticed that a lot of students who were involved in the theatre department were also involved in sports. As I befriended some of these students, I noticed something common among them. I noticed that many of them would often compare how good they felt in theatre class compared to how they felt while competing in their respective sport. They noted to me that they were often tense during workouts, practices, and competitions and that it felt good being in class.
The main goal of my project is so show that theatre is more than just what people think of it. I wanted to show the positive effects that theatre has on college students, particularly those involved in sports. For many, theatre is frivolous. They think that it is courses where we fool around and gain nothing from it. However, it is quite the contrary. Theatre brings out the best in people. It helps people gain self-confidence and become more self-aware. In this video, you will see the professors and students I interviewed and get their take on what they thought theatre really does. Surprisingly, everyone had the same exact thing to say. We all agreed that theatre is where people come to push their limits, express themselves, and build confidence.
Allison Smith is an Art History major at Union College and a NY6Think Tank Fellow who is hosting a student-driven workshop in her residence hall to encourage first-years to study the arts and humanities here at Union.
Allison has invited over 5 upperclassmen who will speak briefly about their experiences in the arts and humanities and will participate in the workshop and answer any questions the first-years may have. The upperclassmen will represent American Studies, English, Art History, Studio Arts, Classics, and History.
From Emily's Blog "Pathways to Employment"
Over winter break, I had the privilege of meeting Jamaican author Diana McCaulay, on a school-sponsored trip to Kingston. Prior to the trip, my class and I read her first novel, Dog-Heart, a heartbreaking story that highlights the extreme poverty and unequal access to opportunity that plagues a portion of Kingston’s population. In addition to being an author, McCaulay has also worked as an environmental activist for almost 25 years. She is currently working on a non-fiction book about her environmental work.
While my class met with McCaulay over lunch, we were able to discuss her interest in writing. I asked her why she began writing professionally because I was quite curious about what motivated her to spend years working on her books, especially while also having a career as an environmental activist. She responded that she had been writing since age thirteen and did so because “writing is how [she makes] sense of the world.”
After reflecting on rest of the conversation my class had with her, I realized that the contents of Dogheart really demonstrated how true that statement was. In order to truly understand and write about the realities of poverty, race, and discrimination, McCaulay told our class she had to consciously observe the conditions in which other Jamaicans live, as she did not personally live with those realities. She further described writing as “an exercise in empathy,” as it forced her to reflect on her own life and privileges.
Writing is how I make sense of the world.
– Diana McCaulay
McCaulay’s motivation for writing stuck with me even after our meeting, as I continued to think about its implications. It seems to me that making sense of the world is also the reason why many of us study the humanities. By studying the humanities, we are able to gain insights on ourselves, others, and the past thus allowing us to better understand the strange world we live in.
Furthermore, the entire study of humanities is indeed “an exercise in empathy,” as the field forces us to think about and evaluate the wide variety of human experiences. Therefore, for those of us invested in the humanities, we should continue to pursue our interests, as this involvement is integral to the development of our personal understanding and empathy.
McCaulay’s fascinating dual career demonstrates how one can raise awareness of and advocate for certain issues (in her case social and environmental issues) through the humanities. By writing, McCaulay is able to disseminate her viewpoints to a wide audience, through a medium that will attract interest. Thus, McCaulay’s success as a writer shows how we all have the ability to work and advocate for the common good using humanities-based mediums, whether it be through art, writing, music, film, research, study, or debate.
For those interested in learning more about Diana McCaulay and her work, please visit her website.
If you are interested in submitting short blogs that reshape public conversations about the Arts and Humanities, please send them to
All authors and opinions are welcome.
In the news:
Ny6ThinkTank Fellow Emily Tong is quoted in the Clyde Fitch report saying "…the humanities are the study of the ways in which people have created meaning over time and the arts are some of the physical presentations of such meaning…. We create meaning by sharing, understanding context, making connections, and expressing ourselves."
NY6 Think Tank Fellow Colleen Moore Tackles Diplomacy, Musical Activism
Katherine Walker and Donna Davenport in the HWS News.
"Faculty Reflect on the NY6 Think Tank"
Cathy Tedford, Ronnie Olesker, Christopher Watts from St. Lawrence Univ to attend "Humans vs. Zombies" event.