Place in Mind

Group of trees lit from below

MTWThF, 9:30 a.m.-12:55 p.m.

Students, here is the link to the Signature Seminar: Place in Mind application formThe deadline to apply is midnight Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

What do you see when you walk around campus? 
Join us to see the extraordinary in the familiar.

This course will begin with students' personal perceptions of the Gearhart Hall courtyard and, working together, we will draw on the power of many different disciplines to (re)contextualize the area. In particular we will consider how to study the courtyard as an abstract space and a place of memory and emotion. Using the spatial setting of the courtyard, we will delve deeply into many different ideas of what makes a place a place, and how that might be expressed.

We will draw from two areas in particular:

  • The rich lineage of place-understanding established by philosophers and theorists and exemplified locally by landscape paintings at Crystal Bridges and by the Ozark architect Fay Jones
  • The detailed analysis of space and pattern that lies at the heart of much of twentieth-century mathematics

In both cases we'll be applying these concepts in a local setting through hands-on exercises in observing, drawing, geometry, creativity and exploration.  As a group, we will develop a suite of creative outputs that develop from the expertise each student brings from his or her own major. Together we will produce a folio of work that provides conceptualizations for an artistic intervention in the Gearhart courtyard that demonstrates to the whole campus community the value of cross-disciplinary collaboration and creativity. Students are encouraged, for an additional single credit, to work with the faculty through the fall of 2018 to curate and exhibit our intersession’s collaborative explorations.

We are looking for students who enjoy working with people from a range of majors and are willing to tackle open-ended, creative problems, including how we can capture the essence of place we all know so well, and to which we may not give a second thought: the U of A campus.

Course Credit

  • All students: 3 hours of honors credit
  • Fulbright College: Honors Natural Sciences Colloquium OR Honors Humanities Colloquium
  • School of Art:  Counts for the 3-credit interdisciplinary elective required as part of the BFA in Graphic Design

About Edmund Harriss:

man posing with mathematical artEdmund Harriss is a mathematician and mathematical artist, driven by a passion to communicate the beauty and utility of mathematical thinking beyond the discipline. He published Patterns of the Universe and Visions of the Universe, bestselling coloring books of images drawn from across mathematics. His mathematical research is in discrete geometry studying the structure of tilings and patterns, themes that also influence his artwork. Beyond mathematics he has applied these ideas to the study of 2D crystals such as Graphene; this work appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. His research has also appeared in Nature and the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. He recently started a research collaboration into the geometry of robot control and 3D printing. This grew out of the development of interdisciplinary courses in CNC design and programming, involving students from across the humanities, sciences, engineering and architecture. His artwork has been commissioned by several universities, including Imperial College in London. 

About Carl Smith:

black and white of man leaning on desk strewn with papersCarl Smith is an associate professor of landscape architecture in the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design. He is also a chartered landscape architect in the UK. He has wide, international experience in the practice, teaching and research of landscape architecture and urban design. Smith’s primary research focuses on the implementation of sustainable design and development, and the experience and communication of place. Smith is primary author of the book Sustainable Residential Landscapes: A Checklist Tool, and he has been widely published in scholarly journals and professional publications. He has delivered lectures on his creative and scholarly work in Europe, South America and the USA. As well as his current position at the U of A, Dr. Smith has taught landscape architecture and urban design classes at the University of Sheffield and Edinburgh College of Art in the UK, and served as a visiting critic at Kansas State University and Louisiana State University. His creative, scholarly and teaching works have been recognized by several awards, including the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society Medal in Architecture and the Allied Arts; The University of Arkansas Honors College Distinguished Faculty Award; and he was part of the design team recognized by this year's American Institute of Architects' National AIA Housing Award.


For an even more in-depth description of "Place in Mind," and a taste of what to expect from the course, watch Edmund Harriss and Carl Smith's preview lecture: