October 21, 2020
This fall, the idea of a college campus as a physical place has taken on a whole new meaning during the pandemic. Leaders at ArtCenter College of Design have come up with a creative solution to the challenge of students being scattered around the world as quarantine continues. ArtCenter Community Hubs have been set up in Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul to provide students with a place to make prototypes, learn together and build community.
“When we had to shut down campus, I immediately became concerned about our international students and how they would be able to continue their degree programs with the physical limitations required of lock down,” said Lorne Buchman, president, ArtCenter College of Design, who inspired the concept of the Hubs. “We all know that isolation can compromise learning. We needed to think about how to build some semblance of community to enrich the education of our students. The Hubs were our answer.”
“The Hubs are not meant to replicate the full ArtCenter experience,” explained Katie Perkins, Director, Exchange and Study Away at ArtCenter College of Design and current leader of the Hubs initiative. “Our intention with the Hubs is to provide a gathering space with key amenities and give students the opportunity to work with one another and connect with alumni.”
Since classes are being taught entirely online, enrolled students can be located anywhere in the world this semester. So far, nearly 200 new and returning ArtCenter students have signed up for the Hubs in the three international cities. Some students have moved to apartments near the Hubs in order to take full advantage of the opportunity to be together again.
Each student is able to access the maker space with basic amenities at least twice a week for an extended period of time. At the minimum, there is Wi-Fi, long tables for students to spread out and work, a projector and wall space to put up notes and posters. Additional amenities, depending on the location, are 3D printers, photo stages, scanners and a Color, Material and Finish (CMF) Lab.
The actual physical spaces used for the Hubs vary in each city. In Shanghai, alumni Funi Ding and Haidy Gong offered space within aolab, a strategic design consultancy the two co-founded in 2018. In Beijing, alumna Melody Yao and her business partner, Shu Tian Xu, have opened up their studio to students. And in Seoul, alumna Jahee Lee has partnered with her sister, Kwang Hee Lee, to secure space in Lee’s building.
Beyond helping the College identify community spaces in each city, alumni have stepped up to create supplemental programming and to mentor students about their desired career trajectory and the required academic trajectory to support those goals.
“It’s wonderful to see our alumni embrace this opportunity to guide students on their path as we move forward in this unprecedented time,” added Perkins. “Our students are experiencing what it’s like to be a part of the broader ArtCenter community."
All new students are required to take a bi-weekly virtual Hub Seminar, while language skills practice and other tutoring is offered to undergraduate students participating at the Hubs. Extracurricular opportunities include museum visits and cultural activities. One of the primary goals of the Hubs is to give students an opportunity to establish ties with alumni and industry professionals. In order to facilitate this process, the Hubs have a schedule of alumni speakers, workshops, demonstrations and field trips to professional design studios in the Hub cities.
Strict safety precautions are in effect at all Hub locations as determined by local public health officials. Aside from government mandated COVID-19 contact tracing apps, everyone is required to bring masks, sign into all events and have their temperature checked when entering the space.
Organizers realize they may need to pivot at any moment due to the virus. They have virtual programming standing by if the situation changes. Everything currently in place can be quickly shifted if necessary. The Hubs were designed to be flexible and supplemental to the academic curriculum.
Perkins says the concept of the Hubs may be expanded to select domestic locations in the near future. She expects the international Hubs to be offered in Spring of 2021 as well.
For information to locate a Hub, please contact email@example.com.
About ArtCenter College of Design: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.
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