As part of Mapping Learning, a year-long series of discussions about RISD’s core mission, a panel of students and faculty members came together last week to think holistically about global engagement at RISD and how it might evolve in the near future. With 28% of RISD’s students now non-US citizens (up from 17% in 2007), the Office of International Student Services (OISS) and the RISD Writing Center (the offices that worked with Global Partners + Programs to organize the event) strive to provide them with the support they need to succeed.
As Chinese student Mingfei Song 14 IA pointed out, language is not the only challenge. Students from different cultures reason differently and look at design differently as well. “But strong ideas speak for themselves,” Song added.
Recent Uruguayan alumna Agustina Bello MFA 13 TX (whose work is shown above) contributed to the discussion via a pre-recorded video, noting that the RISD experience helped her define her own work by making her more aware of cultural influences. All of the students on the panel agreed that the international nature of the RISD community is a key benefit for American students as well.
Gwen Farrelly, director of Global Partners + Programs, one of the three RISD departments that helped organize last week’s discussion.
Professor of Interior Architecture Eduardo Duarte (a native of Portugal) approached the global question from the opposite perspective: of introducing RISD ideas and professors into the wider world. Duarte talked about his fall Interior Architecture studio Layered Worlds, which included a nine-day residency at Carpe Diem, an art center in Lisbon where RISD students exhibited site-specific installations. Duarte engaged his overseas partners virtually before the actual trip, which set the students up for “a fantastic engagement.”