Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rackham chooses topics for second round
of Michigan Meetings

As the first Michigan Meetings get under way with interdisciplinary explorations of consumption and cancer disparities, the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies has chosen the topics for its next round of meetings in 2011.

“Developing Global Sustainability—China/U.S. Partnerships” and “Art-making, the arts, and the research university” are the titles of the meetings planned for next spring.

“The committee valued the broad, cross-campus involvement in both of the proposals selected for 2011, and found that both addressed substantive questions that built, in new ways, on some initiatives already under way at U-M,” says Peggy McCracken, associate dean for academic programs and initiatives at Rackham.

The proposals were selected by an interdisciplinary group of senior faculty members from among those submitted in a campuswide competition. The Rackham School provides funding for the conferences, which will be conducted at the Rackham Building.

McCracken says the three main themes proposed by organizers of the global sustainability meeting — sustainable energy, transportation and water — bring together the China-U.S. focus of the meeting in a timely and compelling way.

According to a summary of the meeting proposal, China and the United States use 30 percent of the world’s total energy expenditure, and are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Both countries have major industrial complexes, urban population centers and expansive rural areas that require extensive water management. Lastly, both countries’ population centers are dispersed over large geographic areas with economies that rely on extensive transportation networks.

Planned participants include U-M, Peking University (PKU), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), and Tsinghua University faculty and students, as well as other Chinese and U.S. universities, representatives from the energy, transportation and water industries, and government researchers.

Organizers are Tom Lyon, director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise; Don Scavia, director of the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute and special counsel to the U-M president for sustainability; Dennis Assanis, director of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute; Peter Sweatman, director of the U-M Transportation Research Institute; San Duanmu, U-M/PKU Joint Institute and professor of linguistics; Jun Ni, U-M/SJTU Joint Institute and Shien-Ming (Sam) Wu Collegiate Professor of Manufacturing Science and professor of mechanical engineering; Mary Gallagher, Center for Chinese Studies and associate professor of political science; and Mark Banaszak Holl, Office of the Vice President for Research and professor of chemistry and of macromolecular science and engineering.

McCracken says the second 2011 Michigan Meeting on making art will open what the organizers intend to be a “continuing and potentially culture-changing discussion about art-making as both a creative and intellectual practice.”

The meeting’s outline says its purpose is to establish U-M “as a leader in the emerging national conversation about better integrating art-making and the arts into the research university — not as decoration or amenity, but as an essential means of understanding, analyzing, and envisioning.”

The principal sponsor for the Michigan Meeting on art making is Arts on Earth. Participants from U-M will include leaders of the U-M Museum of Art, the University Musical Society, the Residential College, Screen Arts & Cultures, the History of Art, Arts of Citizenship, Arts at Michigan, Institute for the Humanities, MFA Writing Program, and others.

U-M participants also will include the vice presidents for communications, research and student affairs, the provost, the president, the Public Goods Council, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, and interested graduate students and their sponsoring faculty.

External participants will include three top arts faculty and administrators from each of the Big Ten schools and from 10 other select institutions designated “Very High Research Activity” by the Carnegie Foundation, graduate students from those schools, and national leaders in arts education, research, and policy from the private and public sectors.

The inaugural series of Michigan Meetings began Wednesday with “The Interdisciplinary Science of Consumption,” a four-day exploration of the fundamental human drive to acquire, consume, and retain important resources. It includes a Consumption Fair on Saturday that is open to the public.

The second 2010 Michigan Meeting, “The Economy and Cancer Health Disparities,” will be May 20-22. It will address how the current economic crisis affects disparities in cancer health, and focus attention on interventions and policies that can ease those inequities.