By Emma Lyons
“Arts & Ideas” is hosting five events at Framingham State University for the Spring 2022 semester, and has started plans to host many more in the coming years.
Arts & Ideas originally started as the “Arts & Humanities” Series, but was rebranded as Arts & Ideas in 2013, said Lisa Eck, chair of the English Department and former Arts & Ideas director.
“The name of the series was reconceptualized as Arts & Ideas to stress the interdisciplinarity of the series. That it is everybody’s series,” she said.
Art History Professor Yumi Park Huntington has been the director of Arts & Ideas since Academic Year 2020-21.
Park Huntington said one of the 8rst things she did in her position was work with the committee to create the bylaws and a mission statement for the series.
“The mission of the Arts & Ideas Committee is to expand and enrich the minds of the FSU community through creative and intellectual experiences from diverse perspectives,” she said.
She joined the committee when she was initially hired at FSU in 2017, she said. She decided to join the series because of her belief in humanities as an integral part of society.
“I was able to see the Arts & Ideas provide all these amazing, amazing programs – humanity-based programs – to the FSU community,” Park Huntington said.
In her role as the director, Park Huntington helps ensure all of the events run smoothly, she said. With the pandemic, she had to learn all of the technological aspects of running a webinar for an event.
Park Huntington works alongside IT, SILD, and Campus Events, as well as HR to ensure each event is conducted properly and has the accommodations needed.
“You need to be a great matchmaker as the chair of Arts & Ideas. If one faculty or student or staff is organizing this event, then I have to 8nd the connection throughout the entire University,” she said.
Arts & Ideas recently began reaching out to groups outside of the University for events, according to Park Huntington.
“Now we are getting toward the hybrid events a lot. So [people] virtually come in from all of the places, but at the same time, FSU community members can join in forums and have a more in depth conversation,” she said.
As the events are available on Zoom, people outside of the campus community are able to join events.
“When we had an event about the Holocaust,” Park Huntington said. “We reached out to the synagogue in Framingham and then they also shared about the event. So eventually, we had people who were joining from Israel, from Jerusalem.”
Park Huntington said one of her goals was to help make Arts & Ideas more visible to students.
“Staff and faculty know about [Arts & Ideas], but not many students – especially commuters,” she said.
Jennifer Koeller, a sophomore ceramics major, is one of the students on the Arts & Ideas Committee.
Koeller said she decided to join Arts & Ideas because of the connectivity between disciplines it provides.
“I feel like sometimes we get stuck in our majors and we don’t know what’s going on in the rest of the University,” she said. “So, it’s a good opportunity for students to have experiences outside of what their major is and to understand that they are a part of a larger collection of students.”
Koeller joined Arts & Ideas after being invited by members of the committee to join. She explained the committee began inviting students to join in order to have the perspective of different demographics of the campus community, she said.
She said she works on the museum subcommittee within Arts & Ideas. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, that subcommittee would arrange trips for FSU students to go to museums. They also work with the Mazmanian Gallery on campus.
“A lot of the students don’t know that we have free passes to the MFA and the Danforth – which is a 10- minute walk from campus – and the ICA in Boston,” she said.
All members of the campus community have the opportunity to make a proposal for any event next year, Koeller said.
“If you can make a good case for it and if it fits in with our theme, then you’ll be selected and go through that vetting process,” she said.
“It is so worth going to see the events that we put on because there’s so much thought and caring about the students’ well-being as individuals as they grow,” she said.
“There is a very large group of caring individuals on campus that do this for free, this is not a part of their pay. They do it to bring all these people here to make experiences better for the students,” Koeller said.
Eck originally joined what is now known as Arts & Ideas when she first started teaching at FSU in 2003.
“It helps us see that the things that we talked about in classes, for grades and for credit, matter to the world on their own terms,” she said.
Eck added attending the Arts & Ideas events help form the habits to pursue new ideas and
“College is when things come to you,” she said. “All of this stimulus and ideas and influence come to you where you live and work – and that will not happen again.”
Eck said she decided to join Arts & Ideas as a way to become involved with campus life.
She also had a background in the arts and wanted to promote the performing arts on campus, she said.
After serving as the director of Arts & Ideas, Eck transitioned to working as a committee member. She worked on the subcommittee that works with the Council on Diversity and Inclusion to co-sponsor events, she said.
“My idea was to get the communication flowing a bit more around diversity,” she said.
“Part of my commitment to the value of Arts & Ideas goes back to my own college years,” she added. “We remember dozens of these events and they became a part of who we are as thinkers.”
Meeghan Bresnahan, a junior history major, has been on the Arts & Ideas Committee since the Fall 2020 Semester. She joined after being recommended by History Professor Maria Bollettino.
“I just really enjoy how we have events and bring so many cool people. I love the arts, obviously, so I thought that it would just be really cool because it combined my interest and also it would give me experience being on committees and talking to people,” she said.
Bresnahan works on the committee to help with attracting more students to the events and attends meetings, she said. She also votes on what events will be hosted and what the themes will be, she said.
“[The events are] a really great way to learn from different perspectives other than your own. I think it’s cool how we are able to bring so many neat people and press presence to our campus. I hope that more people attend them,” she said.
You can follow Arts & Ideas on Instagram @artsideasfsu and view the catalog of events on the
Framingham State website.