This fall, Stephens College faculty presented on professional development activities they undertook this year, supported by grants awarded by the College’s professional development committee. Faculty may submit applications for spring grants by February 15, 2020. For more information, contact committee members Crina Silasi-Mansat or Matthew Pedersen.


Mentoring students at national theatre technology conference

Visiting artist Matthew Pedersen, along with lighting design staff artist Sarah Aker and seven technical theatre majors, attended the United States Institute for Theatre Technology conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

Pedersen said a highlight of the conference was the tech expo, which featured hundreds of exhibitors and employers. Several Stephens students interviewed at the conference and some were hired for their first internships or post-collegiate jobs, Pedersen said. Rachel Gomes secured a position with Maine State Music Theatre and Sarah Martin will join Weston Playhouse Theatre Company in Vermont. 

Thompson, Yost and Borklund represented Stephens at the University Film and Video Association conference.

The conference also featured workshops and professional development sessions, which Pedersen and Aker attended with the students. Topics included “Costuming on the Fringe,” addressing unusual and emerging career paths in costume design; cultural appropriation, character and disability in costume design; and technical demonstrations such as sequin sewing and face molding. Pedersen was especially impressed by a demo on projection-following, a technology that allows fabric patterns to be projected onto plain white clothing and to follow an actor as she moves around a stage.

There also was a conference exhibit of photographs from the global exhibition, “Innovative Costume of the 21st Century: The Next Generation,” featuring designers from 57 countries. Pedersen was one of 12 U.S. artists selected for the exhibition, which premiered in Moscow, Russia, and travels next to Mexico City, Mexico.

“It’s so good for students to be able to get out and look at all they can do with this degree,” Pedersen said.

The students’ travel costs and conference fees were funded by an auction of their artwork and supplemented by faculty donations. Pedersen hopes students will receive support to attend next year’s conference in Houston, Texas.


Modeling experiential learning in digital filmmaking

Chase Thompson ’17 M.F.A., Kerri Yost and Steph Borklund, all associate professors of digital filmmaking, led a workshop at the University Film and Video Association conference at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their presentation on active learning and guided mentorship featured the Summer Film Institute as the nucleus of Stephens’ digital filmmaking program, and encouraged other media and cinematic arts programs to implement self-sustaining, experiential learning.

“It was refreshing to know that people were coming to us with questions,” Thompson said. “What we’re doing at Stephens is valued by faculty at other schools.”

- Chase Thompson, associate professor of digital filmmaking

Thompson said the Stephens faculty's time spent at a rental house during breaks from the conference served as a retreat, allowing them to set program goals, work collaboratively on their course syllabi for the upcoming semester, and implement ideas learned at the conference into their pedagogy. 


Exploring inclusion, diversity and sustainability at fashion education summit

Kirsty Buchanan ’83 and Dr. Monica McMurry ’82, both professors of fashion design, participated in the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Education Summit in New York City.

CFDA is a non-for-profit trade association of nearly 500 designers whose goal is to strengthen the impact of American fashion in the global economy. Stephens is one of 20 schools in the country invited to participate, one of the few from the Midwest, and the only women’s college.

Themes of the 2019 summit included inclusivity, diversity and sustainability, which are current top-of-mind issues for fashion brands. McMurry moderated a roundtable discussion titled “Inclusion + Diversity: Size x Ability,” and Buchanan participated in discussions about the need to train designers to create apparel for a broad range of consumers.

Buchanan also attended the Fashion Future Graduate Showcase, a mini-trade show, and brought back notes to her students about what brands are looking for in graduates of design programs, including critical thinking skills, business acumen, social and cultural awareness and community connection. Buchanan serves as a mentor to students applying for the council’s $20,000 scholarship.

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