Assistant professor brings object-based learning into arts journalism class

Rawiya Kameir
Rawiya Kameir

Rawiya Kameir has always been interested in combining the arts and journalism, writing stories for cultural publications like The Fader and The Outline. When the opportunity arose to be a member of the new Faculty Fellows Program at the Syracuse University Art Museum, she took it.

The goal of the program is to train professors in utilizing object-based teaching techniques, so the museum’s pieces can be used as an educational tool. Kameir and her fellow faculty members learned how to use the museum’s organization systems and catalogs before taking the knowledge to their students for the semester.

Kameir, who teaches in the magazine, news, and digital journalism program, first learned about the opportunity through Eric Grode, director of the Goldring arts journalism and communications program. It captured her interest right away.

“I thought it sounded really cool,” Kameir says. “As someone who teaches courses about writing about art and thinking about art, it made perfect sense to take advantage of an opportunity to be really up and close with all of this art.”

Once Kameir was selected to be a part of the first cohort of fellows, she underwent training over the summer. She and the other participants learned about research methods used by Kate E. Hollohan, the museum’s curator of education and academic outreach, and Melissa A. Yuen, the interim chief curator.

At the end of the training, the fellows identified a class where they could apply the object-based principles of the program. Kameir applied her training and funding to Literature of Arts Journalism, a graduate-level course she’s teaching this semester.

This fall, Kameir took her class to the museum where she challenged her students to analyze the piece “The Red Badge of Courage (after Stephen Crane),” which she personally curated. This exercise, accompanied by readings and articles on collage theory, allowed the class to collectively create a small syllabus inspired by the piece.

“Each of [my students] read about one of these things in their own areas of interest. And then we annotated a syllabus together,” she says.

This served as practice for the class’ final independent assignment, which involves the students selecting a piece from the museum, researching different types of literature that will enrich their understanding of it and creating a syllabus.

Kameir wants her students to consider “all of the potential avenues that [they] could read about, that might not be directly related to this object… that can help [them] gain a deeper understanding of it.”

Kameir believes everyone can benefit from object-based learning, advising Newhouse students and faculty interested in learning more about this initiative to visit the Syracuse University Art Museum.

“It is something that I really recommend. It’s also a nice break. If you have an hour between classes, it’s a good place to go and get inspired.”

Taylor Huang is a senior dual magazine, news and digital journalism major in the Newhouse School and an information management and technology major in the School of Information Studies.