Each week another conference rolls into New Orleans. Among the more than 10 million tourists per year that visit our city, many of them are academics coming to town for professional conferences. This year, the School of Liberal Arts connected directly with three leading conferences, actively pursuing a new level of engagement.
“Before I took on my position as dean, I had been to New Orleans for several conferences, but I had not ventured further uptown beyond the convention center,” explains Brian Edwards, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and professor of English. “I want every academic and artist who comes to town for professional meetings to remember that New Orleans is home to Tulane University.”
In an effort to increase engagement with the array of professionals visiting the city, the School of Liberal Arts has taken a variety of approaches to connect the school, faculty, and students with conferences in New Orleans. One such approach was through the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South’s (NOCGS) partnership with the local art organization Pelican Bomb to host the tenth annual Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present (ASAP/10) conference. NOCGS aimed to offer a platform for leading scholars in the contemporary art field to share their “scholarship and creativity to shed light on the formal, social, and political significance of the arts today.” The hosts organized a dynamic conference program last fall, each day concluding with a talk by profound artists such as Trevor Paglen and Dred Scott, and curator and scholar Daphne A. Brooks. NOCGS and Pelican Bomb also encouraged conference attendees to visit Tulane’s campus for these talks and other events. As participants remarked, the conference environment was one that supported workshopping new ideas and work in progress. ASAP/10, contemporary in its essence, became a springboard for creating exceptional contemporary artwork and scholarship.
For Rebecca Snedeker, Clark Executive Director for NOCGS, ASAP/10 was a huge success. “We met our objective to place Gulf South and Tulane contemporary arts scholars and artists in an international spotlight, and invite members of the leading interdisciplinary contemporary arts association to learn from the brilliant and fertile arts communities here and exchange ideas.” She remarked that more than 500 guests experienced Tulane University as the host of this gathering, forging relationships that have inspired new research trajectories.
Shortly after the ASAP/10 conference, the School of Liberal Arts took a second approach to increase the school’s reach by creating space for comradery and conversation at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) conference. ACTFL offers a platform for educators of all languages and levels to learn new tools to help them succeed in language learning. While Liberal Arts faculty and doctoral students presented in and attended the annual conference, the school also hosted a reception at the Tulane River and Coastal Center, adjacent to the conference’s home base, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. During the reception, individuals representing each language program presented posters that highlighted special curriculum, faculty, and programs, allowing many opportunities for conference attendees to learn about the school and its faculty.
Presenting Tulane and the School of Liberal Arts in a prestigious, national context, the school took a third approach to engage with New Orleans-based conferences as a sponsor of the 2018 National Humanities Conference. Hosted by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the conference provided a unique opportunity for practitioners and academics to share resources, new research, and challenges in an effort to strengthen the country’s humanities network. By supporting the conference, the school was able to share the university’s position as a humanities leader, energized by interdisciplinary convergences and enriched by global perspectives.
Whether sponsoring, partnering with, or presenting national conferences, Tulane’s School of Liberal Arts understands the inherent value of New Orleans as a conference destination. By engaging with conference attendees that come to town, the university continues to grow as a leader in the discussion of creative and academic inquiry on both a national and international stage.