Baruch College of the City University of New York created the Baruch College-Rubin Museum of Art Project to increase student exposure to the arts and cultural institutions located in New York City. This project has expanded and now supports a range of activities that provide incentives for faculty to explore innovative ways to incorporate the arts in their courses, expand student experience through active engagement with the Rubin Museum of Art, and sponsor university partnerships between the Rubin Museum of Art and City University Colleges. The Project engages faculty from Baruch College’s three schools, the School of Public Affairs, the Weissman School of Arts & Sciences and the Zicklin School of Business.
To engage the wider higher education community in an effort to improve student performance and development through the expanded exposure to the arts, the Project has launched Advancing Higher Education thru Arts Development in the 21st Century (AHEAD21) as an open-source resource to help academics and practitioners share ideas and materials that can be adopted by other academic and cultural institution programs. One goal of this effort is preparing the next generation of engaged and active global leaders. At the heart of this effort is the desire to find ways to empower today’s students to be more actively involved in efforts to improve society and uphold the principles that support our democratic values of equality and opportunity for all.
Today’s and tomorrow’s leaders need to comprehend and solve complex issues while understanding the interdependence that large complex systems possess. They must be willing and able to construct new paradigms by thinking outside the box and avoid being constrained by popular opinion or prevailing norms. This new breed of leaders are able to communicate to people from different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures, reaching local, national and global audiences through the use of social media and technology.
Researchers Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein of Michigan State University noted that “the arts have often stimulated scientific discoveries and science has often influenced the nature of artistic creativity.” An education incorporating the arts empowers students and affords them the opportunity to learn skills such as creative thinking, decision-making, timing and movement, the value and impact of content, and the importance of spatial and organizational approaches. Studying and incorporating the arts imbues students with the fundamental sense that there can always be more than a single “right” answer. Through the arts, students explore, analyze, and discuss possibilities using different scenarios—as well as retain the ability to critique the resulting interpretations. This approach to arts integration in the learning process provides students with all of the skills, character, and knowledge needed to be successful future leaders.