We arrived at elementary school ISPED Manuela Canizares in Quito in the morning (March 10). Students were enthusiastically singing their national anthem and reciting the Ecuadorean pledge of allegiance our group. After the warm welcome, we split into groups of 20 four-year-old children in each group. Our individual groups greeted each of us with an abundance of energy, excitement and hugs. They were eager to use the art materials and we were excited to share our creative knowledge. Along with creating beautiful artwork , we interacted with the children through song, play and a variety of other activities.
After London, the time for the conference and presentation at Mansfield College (University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K.) finally arrived. The paper presentations would be based off joint research project which was developed between Ursuline College and Tiffin University. The research examined the relationships between creativity and mental health/mental illness. Members of the project team who presented in Oxford included UC professor, DoHee Kim-Appel, Ph.D., UC Art Therapy and Counseling graduate students, Claire Whiteman, Mary Cassidy, & Rebecca Stanic, Tiffin University professor Jonathan Appel, Ph.D., and undergraduate behavioral sciences student Erin Snapp.
Oxford proved to be a relaxed and calm setting in contrast to the helter skelter (Beatles pun intended!) of London.
Both my husband and I agreed that there can be no place more inspiring to an academic than Oxford. The pastoral settings among the ancient gothic architecture –left us truly breathless. Just strolling in the surroundings that once held Lewis Carroll, Aldous Huxley, Oscar Wilde, Percy Bysshe Shelley, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, T. S. Eliot, John Wycliffe, John Wesley, Stephen Hawking, Edwin Hubble, as well as heads of state (26 British prime ministers have attended Oxford) gave us the momentary illusion of being more enlightened!
We even made sure we even visited the famous “Eagle and the Child” public house—which was a gathering place for “The Inklings,” which was an Oxford writers’ group that included C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson. It is from here that the writers read and discussed various works, including their manuscripts.
University of Oxford!
Although its exact date of origin is not completely know, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096 making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world! The University of Oxford is actually over 30 or so semi-autonomous colleges, which made for quite a diversity of place. (http://www.ox.ac.uk/visitors_friends/visiting_the_university/index.html)
The conference itself was held on the beautiful campus of Mansfield College (The main building was designed by architect Basil Champneys, and built between 1887-1890. It houses the main college library, the law library and the theology library). One could not think a more perfect setting for an intentionally intimate conference (just 25 or so papers out of 100 submitted were accepted).
International and Inter-Disciplinary
The conference was sponsored by Inter-Disciplinary.Net, which is “a forum for the exchange and interaction of ideas, research and points of view that bear on a wide range of issues of concern and interest in the contemporary world”. The organization goals are to” promote and sponsor inter- and multi-disciplinary encounters by bringing people together from differing contexts, disciplines, professions, and vocations, with the aim to engender and nurture engagements that cross the boundaries of intellectual work.” This group also hopes that its “projects, conferences and publishing activities are creative and novel, and they evolve constantly as we seek out and foster emergentdevelopments.” http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ Dr. Rob Fisher is the Network Founder and Network Leader. His great vision is apparent through the well run experience.
Conference participants were educators and scholars from various countries including, Scotland, UK, Poland, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, New Zealand, South Africa, Montreal, Italy, and the United States. There were psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, a feminist art historian, a medicalanthropologist, a philosopher, an attorney, several literature professors, and several additional professionals.
There was a collective feeling among us that the conference organizers were achieving their goals, and we were very impressed with the design and intent of the conference. It was truly fantastic to have cross national and cross-disciplinary discussions. It was very gratifying to see all the students treated as peers by both the organizers and attendees. The ideas and discussion (both formal and informal) were some of the best professional experiences we ever had. Special appreciate goes to conference facilitator Gonzalo Araoz—for his wit and support. He stood as a shining role model for us and our students.
We (Dr. Dohee Kim-Appel and husband Dr. Jonathan Appel) on the first day presented a paper entitled: “Non-Rational States of Consciousness: Understanding and Counseling ‘Madness’.”
The research team (which came to be dubbed “The Ohio Collective” at the conference) jointly presented the paper, “Creativity, Critique, and Cutting Edge: Creativity and Madness.” Each member of the team took a research area of the topic and presented on it– and opened the topic for further discussion. All the students presented with skill and grace. As our students presented extremely well — Jonathan and I were elated. The experience confirmed the reason why we wanted to be educators. Feedback from the participants regarding our students was overwhelming. We all seem to recognize that learning comes in many forms. I was proud to be part of the “Ohio Collective” in Oxford!
The blog post was written by DoHee Kim-Appel, Ph.D. Associate Professor for Art Therapy and Counseling at Ursuline College.