Syracuse University Art Museum Piloting Object-Based Teaching and Research Faculty Fellows Program

Faculty from all disciplines are invited to apply for a pilot Faculty Fellows Program being hosted this summer by the Syracuse University Art Museum.

a gourd-shaped rattle, part of the Syracuse University Art Museum's collection

Gourd-Shaped Rattle (gift from Professor Andrei Nitecki)

The program focuses on object-based teaching and research. It is both a way for the art museum to promote innovative curriculum development and to facilitate the fuller integration of the museum’s collection in Universitywide instruction, says Kate Holohan, curator of education and academic outreach.

Object-based teaching and research uses existing objects, such as works of art, manuscripts, archival documents, archaeological artifacts and natural specimens as the center of active, experiential and student-centered learning. In this way, students can think deeply about materials and materiality and objects’ makers and users, connecting people, places and experiences across space and time. They also can develop and honor observational skills; build vocabulary; bridge the divide between theory and practice; and increase empathy for people and experiences different from their own.

Marcelle Haddix, associate provost for strategic initiatives, whose responsibilities include oversight for the art museum, is enthusiastic about the pilot program’s capacity to mesh artifacts and treasures in the campus collections with new learning opportunities.

“The art museum is a wonderful educational resource for faculty and students of all disciplines, and this pilot program spotlights how collection objects can serve as useful and creative tools for research and instruction. The unique, tangible objects housed here help us reach across cultures, continents and centuries,” Haddix says. “They offer insights about how materials are used and how makers have imagined diverse expressions of human voices and ideas. They provide a true added dimension to researching and learning about the arts and humanities, as well as history, inquiry and understanding.”

A toy elephant, part of the Syracuse University Art Museum's collection

Toy Elephant (Town of Patan, India, 20th Century)

three parts

There are three program components: an intensive workshop that takes place June 1-3, faculty fellow presentations in August and development of a museum visit lesson plan and at least one object-based student assignment. Each faculty fellow will receive a $3,000 grant or research grant. Up to six fellow awards are planned.

The program is open to all Syracuse University tenure-track and full-time non-tenure-track faculty members who are teaching in fall 2022 or spring 2023. Proposals may originate from any discipline and must include an existing course syllabus and a checklist of two to four museum collection objects for exploration. Courses that can integrate object-based teaching into the curriculum and can be taught on a recurring basis will receive award preference, says Holohan.

The deadline for applications is 5 pm ET on Wednesday, May 18. They can be submitted to Application instructions [PDF], a program description and additional museum details are online. Anyone needing more information or with questions can contact Holohan at or 315.443.4097. Decision notifications will be made by Monday, May 23.

45,000 items

The museum’s collection is among the largest academic art collections in the United States, encompassing more than 45,000 artworks and cultural artifacts from across the globe that span 5,500 years of human history, says Vanja Malloy, the museum’s director and chief curator.

The museum will install a selection of course-related objects chosen by each faculty fellow in one of its study galleries. For courses being taught in fall 2022, objects will be displayed from August through December this year; and for courses being taught in spring 2023, objects will be on display from January through May 2023.

The program is being hosted by the Syracuse University Art Museum with support from the Office of Strategic Initiatives and the Office of Research in Academic Affairs.

Shaffer Art Building is reflected in the marble wall of the Orange Grove.

The Syracuse University Art Museum, located in the Shaffer Art Building, will pilot a new Faculty Fellows Program this summer.

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