Students use creativity to explore themes in Campus Read

January 20, 2015
"I am Malala" student images - Jesus Melendez
"I am Malala" student images - Lue Thao

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Students, faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville have engaged in a variety of projects related to the university’s 2014-15 Campus Read selection, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.” The book chronicles the journey of Malala Yousafzai, who became a global advocate for girls’ education rights after being shot by the Taliban. Yousafzai was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

In its third year, the Campus Read program is designed to engage the campus and surrounding community in a shared reading activity that facilitates discussion and learning both inside and outside of the classroom.

In mid-2014, UW-Platteville received “I Am Malala” curriculum tools from George Washington University’s Global Women’s Institute in Washington, D.C., which were shared with UW-Platteville faculty members. The tools, created by an interdisciplinary group of GWI faculty members, focused on themes such as the importance of a woman’s voice, how education empowers women, global feminism, political extremism and youth activism. Faculty members using the Campus Read book in their classrooms were free to use GWI’s curriculum tools or develop their own.

Students in the Basic Design 2-D course, taught by Richard Moninski, distinguished lecturer of art at UW-Platteville, created an eight-panel series of images – modeled after storyboards for films and videos or pages from graphic novels – to convey the main threads of a narrative they chose from “I Am Malala.” Students had the freedom to choose any media, whether traditional or digital, to execute these artworks. They were instructed to pay special attention to changes in scale, contrast, direction, lighting, spatial relationships and point of view in order to present a variety of compositional strategies in the sequence of frames.

“This project was a challenge for my students,” said Moninski. “In their translation of the narrative actions in the book, not only did they need to make each image interesting, they also had to make the whole group of individual panels work together as a coherent statement on the page.”

Thirty-five students in the Meetings and Events course, taught by Dr. B. J. Reed, professor of communication in the media studies program, read and participated in discussions about the book. “We looked at the book from the perspective of our coursework in media studies,” Reed said. “Malala had a mind-altering experience, wrote about it, sold many books and became a sought-after speaker.”

The students also listened to “I Am Malala,” a panel and live stream presentation by UW-Madison’s keynote speaker, Shiza Shahid, co-founder of the Malala Fund. “The issues surrounding hiring the speaker, including speaker costs, handling transportation logistics and setting up a live feed to Platteville connected directly with part of our course content, which focused on planning a meeting or event,” said Reed.

UW-Platteville faculty members will continue to implement Campus Read activities and projects in their classrooms throughout the spring semester.

The university will hold a campus-wide vote for the 2015-16 Campus Read book this February. For more information about the Campus Read program, visit the website.

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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