The University of Florida has one of the best art museums on a college campus, yet many faculty members don’t know about it, let less find ways to incorporate art into their curricula. On Dec. 9, 2016, faculty of the Department of Political Science did just that by participating in a half-day retreat at the Harn Museum of Art to learn how the museum’s resources can enhance their teaching.
Aida Hozic, professor of political science and museum ambassador, led by example, developing the retreat with department chair Ido Oren with knowledge gained from her own museum-oriented course, Art and War. “Through her, the museum made great strides in supporting the academic activities of the university,” says Eric Segal, the Harn’s Director of Education. “As an example and an ambassador to her (sometimes skeptical) faculty colleagues, she has opened the door for the museum to work with and support the teaching of additional instructors.”
Hozic served on the advisory committee of the Harn's current exhibit of war photographs from the Middle East. The exhibit, called Aftermath: The Fallout of War — America and the Middle East, captures all aspects of war and its physical, social, and environmental effects in a series of photographs taken by 12 international artists. Hozic and Terje Østebø of the UF Department of Religion also contributed essays to the exhibit’s catalogue.
The retreat included a visit to the exhibit; attending faculty learned about future opportunities to consult on exhibitions and use them in their classes. “After seeing it, they began to see and actively generate connections between their coursework and looking at art works — especially since we are all now visual learners,” says Carol McCusker, the Harn’s Curator of Photography.
Hozic and Oren hope that attendees and other professors will consider using cultural resources and art exhibitions to inject creativity into their teaching, while Segal and McCusker hope that other museums will use this model to forge connections with teaching faculty.