A Guide to Pedagogy-Related Programming at CAA’s 2019 Annual Conference

Every year around this time, I find myself in mild state of professional panic. It’s the week before CAA’s Annual Conference and I haven’t yet chosen which sessions to attend. Although this year’s conference website allows users to create a personalized schedule by using keywords and other filters to identify specific sessions, AHTR’s Franny Zawadzki graciously created this spreadsheet of pedagogy-related sessions, workshops, and roundtable discussions as a guide for anyone interested in topics on faculty development, curricular resources, and other issues of teaching and learning. We also want to make sure you know about AHTR’s session (8:30-10am on Wednesday, Feb. 13)  “State of the Art (History): Engaging Difficult Topics in and out of the Classroom,” chaired by Parme Giuntini and including collaborators Amy Hamlin and Karen Leader, co-founders of Art History That.

Since Franny’s done all the hard work, I thought I’d take a moment to share a few thoughts about the sessions offered this year. It’s worth commenting that when AHTR released its 2015 study showing demand for pedagogical discourse in art history, the average number of pedagogical sessions at CAA’s Annual Conference had remained fewer than nine throughout the previous decade. I’m happy to say that with over 65 pedagogy-related events taking place this year, the situation is much improved! This increase is due in part to the alternative session formats CAA introduced a few years ago, which now feature shorter panel sessions, interactive workshops, and open roundtable discussions. Although most of this year’s sessions still adhere to the traditional panel format (which we hope changes soon), there are a number of roundtables and workshops that allow for open dialogue with others who share similar interests.  

What I’m most excited about, however, is that the current slate of conference sessions demonstrates a growing awareness–across CAA’s constituent members–that our work as educators is absolutely integral to our professional practice as artists and scholars. This shift is apparent in the number of sessions that explore the intersection of engaged pedagogical approaches with the broader call for social justice, political activism, and other advocacy efforts. There are multiple sessions focused on social practice, the need for diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education and the cultural sector, and ongoing work to decolonize institutions and traditions throughout the field. Others consider how cultural developments like the #metoo movement, political polarization, changing student demographics, and growing anxieties on college campuses may impact faculty and students, as well as our course content and teaching methods. Importantly, such discussions clearly cross disciplinary boundaries, and may, hopefully, foster collaboration among art history, studio art and design, and community-based educators to achieve greater public impact and recognition of the value in visual arts education.

As in the past, there are also plenty of sessions that share specific ideas about the art history survey, experimental assignments and teaching methods, and ways to use of digital tools and resources. However, this year’s program includes more librarians, museum educators, digital humanists, design experts, faculty in community colleges, and student participants, who are sure to bring much needed perspective to these conversations. Also like past conferences, there are way too many concurrent sessions on similar topics; but, given the sheer volume of robust options and the current conference structure, such overlap seems unavoidable.

All of the AHTR team will be in New York and participating in sessions throughout the conference, so please don’t hesitate to stop by and introduce yourself!  We’d love to hear your feedback about the site, suggestions for AHTR Weekly posts, and other resources you’d like to see. If you’re chairing a session or leading a roundtable that you think might be of interest to our readers, please reach out to explore how we might share useful ideas with others in the AHTR community. Safe travels and best wishes for an exciting, productive, and meaningful conference experience. 


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