Critical Encounters, Columbia College
Critical Encounters is a college-wide civic engagement initiative intended to synchronize conversations between the school and the community in an ongoing dialogue around a socially and culturally relevant central issue each academic year. Critical Encounters: Image & Implication examines how images—visual, verbal, and virtual—shape public perception and influence events and policy. Image & Implication challenges students to examine the impact of what they see, hear, and read; to produce art and media that reflect and encourage civic engagement; and to take action on issues of social importance. Beginning as an idea and initiative of the Provost's Office, Critical Encounters is a project that intends to be a model for interactive, community-inclusive civic engagement that exploits and explores the relationship between art and social science, artistic action, and revolution. To mark the 25th anniversary of the first diagnosed cases of AIDS, Columbia College Chicago launched Critical Encounters, a three-year project that will address HIV and AIDS through the lens of arts and civic engagement. With programs implemented through classes, projects, and public events, students will closely examine issues surrounding AIDS and HIV in their first year. In the remaining two years of the project, students will study the complicating factor of poverty, and will search for ways to address the issue. "Art for art's sake is fine," says provost Steve Kapelke, "But Columbia has always followed the notion that art generates change. Critical Encounters will help students tackle the topic of AIDS/HIV." This profile courtesy of Arts & Democracy.