AAI Announces Recipient of 2023 Arts & Humanities Grant

Mon, 12/18/2023


Alicia Marksberry

The Achievement & Assessment Institute at the University of Kansas has awarded the 2023 AAI Art & Humanities Grant to Giselle Anatol, interim director of the Hall Center for the Humanities and professor of English, for the project “Imagining Our Futures” Storytelling Game & Art Sessions with AfroRithm Futures Group.

The project involves hosting gamified storytelling and art sessions both on and off campus in 2024 facilitated by the AfroRithm Futures Group, an “Afrofuturist consultancy and storytelling collective,” using their game, Afrorithms From the Future. The storytelling and exploration card game invites players to imagine anti-racist futures together by creating “artifacts” that exist in the imagined futures. The goal of the game is to collectively decide on the best artifact to share with the rest of the “multiverse.” 

“It's really exciting to think about workshops that could get people to envision the future collaboratively, thinking in creative ways about the possibilities,” Anatol said. “We need to be in conversation with each other in order to move towards a positive future.”

“Imagining Our Futures” is a collaborative effort among the Hall Center for the Humanities, The Commons, the Spencer Museum of Art, the Lawrence Arts Center, KU Edwards Campus, the Achievement & Assessment Institute, the Center for Community Outreach, KU Libraries, the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications and the University Honors Program. The sessions will be open to everyone. Anatol said she hopes the collaborative and open nature of the project will help bring together people who don’t usually interact. 

“We are excited to have the ability to try to bring different people together in conversation about the topic. We are planning several different workshops on different days and at different times of day so that we can interact and engage as many people as possible,” Anatol said.  

Artists will be invited to depict the artifacts each group creates using different mediums, helping tie the humanities to art in an imaginative way. 

“Artists have a really important role in thinking about our futures. It’s not just politicians or economists. Artists of all kinds are crucial to this sort of futures thinking because they have such amazing vision,” Anatol said. 

The project will also be held in conjunction with the 2023-2024 KU Common Book, “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler, a post-apocalyptic story exploring themes such as social injustice and climate change. The project will be part of the KU common book programing and will touch on many of the same themes. 

“'Parable of The Sower' brings in questions about what it means to be an engaged citizen or community member and how each individual person has the capacity to help shape the world and the future for themselves and everyone in their community,” said Emily Ryan, director of The Commons. “I think ‘Imagining Our Futures’ gives us the opportunity to bring lots of different groups of people together into a common space to envision what that might look like together. And because this group leads with an Afrofuturist pedagogy, it will also potentially expose people to a new way to think about the future.” 

This is the third year for the Arts & Humanities Grant, which was created to foster deeper ties between the arts and humanities and the education and social sciences within which most of the institute’s work is focused. AAI believes that looking at societal problems through the lens of the arts and humanities helps to think through issues, complements and articulates the work of science and education, and engages diverse perspectives. 

Previous recipients of the grant include Ryan Clifford, assistant professor of design and visual communication, for the project titled “Radlab! DIY Youth Creative Workshop Series”; F. María Velasco, professor of visual art, for the project titled “On Our Terms, In Our Own Words”; and Ash Wilson, director of the Center for Sexuality & Gender Diversity at KU, and David Mai, assistant teaching professor in the Department of Film & Media Studies, for their project titled “Telling Our Stories.” 

“Imagining Our Futures embodies many aspects of AAI’s mission and is especially aligned with the Center for Public Partnerships & Research’s work in futures thinking,” said Neal Kingston, director of AAI. “This project is a great opportunity for people to come together to begin imagining and planning for a future that is equitable and just for everyone.”  

More information regarding Imagining Our Futures, including workshop dates and locations, will be available on The Commons and The Hall Center’s website as well as the KU Events Calendar.  

Mon, 12/18/2023


Alicia Marksberry