CIAS finds enriching learning opportunities for students and faculty in Italy

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Marco Zanin/Fabrica

CIAS Senior Associate Dean Twyla Cummings, right, and Associate Dean Robin Cass visited Italy in 2014 to solidify the college’s plans for learning opportunities at Fabrica.

As yet another illustration of RIT’s increasing international presence, the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences is in the midst of growing educational relationships in Italy with three areas rich in artistic opportunities for both students and faculty.

Fabrica is a communication research center based in Treviso, Italy, and an integral part of the Benetton Group— a global fashion brand. The think tank is widely recognized for offering young people from around the world scholarship opportunities with a highly diverse group of researchers.

Thanks to visits there by CIAS Dean Lorraine Justice nearly two years ago—and more recently by Associate Deans Twyla Cummings and Robin Cass— six faculty members have or will travel to Fabrica to lead presentations or workshops on diverse disciplines ranging from design and visual communication to printing, photography and film. Most recently, both Frank Cost (School of Photographic Arts and Sciences) and Tom Gasek (School of Film and Animation) presented their research at Fabrica.

“This has been a relationship in the making for some time,” Cummings said. “President (Bill) Destler visited Fabrica some years ago and (Vignelli Distinguished Professor of Design) Roger Remington has been there on a number of occasions as part of his work with the Vignelli Center for Design Studies.”

The college has finalized plans for a continuing rotation of faculty to present at Fabrica over upcoming semesters and is in the initial stages of identifying valuable co-op opportunities for students with either the center or some of its partner companies.

CIAS also is fostering connections for students and faculty with both the city of Ferrara and its namesake university, the University of Ferrara. Extensive meetings and discussions with officials in the northern Italian city have resulted in new study abroad opportunities—including a course developed by Sarah Thompson, an associate professor in the School of Art, who led students on an art history tour of Ferrara during last spring break.

In addition, CIAS faculty members have been invited to present workshops in nearby Florence at the Santa Reparata International School of Art, where students are studying a wide range of subjects such as design and film.

Cummings observed that each of these emerging opportunities in Italy for CIAS students and faculty is part of the college’s ongoing efforts to extend itself globally.

“If we want our students to have global experiences, we need our faculty to do so as well,” she said. “With each of these opportunities, we want to forge meaningful and collaborative learning experiences abroad for both our students and faculty.”