From the Director's Desk
In 2009 the University of Arizona administration recruited 13 faculty members to brainstorm about a new interdisciplinary initiative. I had the good fortune to be a part of that cluster. The group, the Provost’s Strategic Advisory Council for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, held a series of intense meetings and conversations, hosted a day-long workshop attended by more than 100 faculty members, and drafted a thorough report recommending the creation of an institute of the arts, humanities, and social sciences to address the grand challenges of human existence.
As a result, with funding from the offices of the president and the provost, Confluencenter was created in the fall of 2010 under the office of the vice president for research. Most members of the advisory council joined the Confluencenter Faculty Advisory Board, which selected me as director in December 2010. Since then we have worked in close cooperation with the vice president for research and the deans of the three colleges to fulfill our mission to bring people and ideas together to cultivate innovation, collaboration and public engagement.
Confluencenter endeavors to nurture greater synergies across campus by fostering networks and promoting the development of a dynamic intellectual environment. We carry on a long, rich history and tradition of interdisciplinary collaborative research in many areas critical to the future of our state and our nation. Those include Southwest, Native American, Borderlands and Latin American studies, creative and performing arts, and social and cultural studies.
Since its inception, Confluencenter has awarded more than a million dollars in grants and fellowships. We also have co-sponsored speakers and academic conferences to enhance and enliven the intellectual life of our community. Our programs impact a significant number of faculty, students and community members. We had large audiences for public lectures by Noam Chomsky and Gayatri Spivak and the “Arizona at 100” celebration. We supported the development of the Arizona Centennial Mobile Application and co-sponsored the successful “Virtual Divides” international symposium and presentations by Gustavo Arellano, Marie Darrieussecq, Jose Esteban Muñoz and others.
Our commitment to undergraduate scholarship is reflected in the student-published “Arizona Journal for Interdisciplinary Studies,” a ground-breaking publication. We are seeking federal and private foundation funding to sustain these kinds of projects.
Our faculty grant recipients and graduate fellows are developing some of the most innovative interdisciplinary work on campus: from examining the cultural effects of food to looking at how domestic environments react to mortgage refinancing; from looking at the role of religion in American politics to analyzing the effects of three-dimensional images in student learning; and from studying multilingualism in a global society to exploring how animal behavior can help us understand human interactions. We are fostering a true confluence of people and ideas.
I invite you to partner with us in local, regional and national initiatives by becoming a member of the Confluence Circle of supporters or by making an investment in one of our projects such as the Creative Collaborations or our presentations in the communities along Route I-19. This is an exciting endeavor as we are poised to become the nation’s premier center for interdisciplinary and creative research in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Please join us.
Javier Duran, Ph.D.