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A Conversation with MICA’s New Provost David Bogen

David Bogen, provost and vice president for academic affairs speaks during his first general staff meeting at MICA.

David Bogen, provost and vice president for academic affairs speaks during his first general staff meeting at MICA.

David Bogen, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs.

David Bogen, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Bogen brings to MICA 20 years of diverse experiences

Posted 09.01.15 by MICA Communications

This past spring, MICA appointed David Bogen, Ph.D., as the College's next provost and vice president for academic affairs. Bogen brings to MICA 20 years of diverse experiences in higher education program development, research strategies, partnership building and internationalization.

Most recently, Bogen has served as vice president academic and provost at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, Canada. Prior to Emily Carr University, he served as associate provost for academic affairs at the Rhode Island School of Design and as the executive director of the Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College in Boston.

At Emily Carr University, Bogen worked with colleagues to develop and implement a multiyear enrollment strategy, institutional strategies for expanding international student recruitment and support, and a university-wide faculty recruitment plan with the goal of diversifying the full-time faculty and growing their numbers by 15 percent. He also led the successful recruitment process for three new Canada Research Chairs, part of a program to attract the world's most accomplished artists and scholars to achieve research excellence at universities in Canada.

A social theorist and philosopher of language by training, Bogen has broad experience in pioneering interdisciplinary programs based on diverse pedagogical models, including project-, studio-, and community-based approaches and the integration of digital media in instruction. He was also instrumental in the development of major research initiatives and partnerships at his former institutions, involving health design, social practice, art and science collaborations, digital fabrication and materials analysis.

Bogen holds a BA in philosophy from Macalester College in Minnesota and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in sociology from Boston University. He is the author of Order Without Rules: Critical Theory and the Logic of Conversation and the co-author of The Spectacle of History: Speech, Text, and Memory at the Iran-Contra Hearings. His most recent work explores social, organizational and perceptual issues in the design of emerging media environments.

Q&A

Juxtapositions recently had a conversation with Bogen about his background, initial impressions of MICA, community engagements and value of a college education.

Juxtapositions: Welcome to MICA! You've come to us from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, a Canadian university that has an excellent reputation. While there, what was your impression of MICA and what attracted you to our campus?

David Bogen: I have known about MICA and its reputation as a leader and an innovator in art and design education for a very long time. MICA is one of a handful of North American art and design institutions that has a strong international presence both in Europe and in Asia as well as in Mexico and Latin America. I first visited MICA in 2007 when I was at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and I remember touring the campus at that time, just a few years after the Brown Center had been completed and as plans were underway for the graduate center. As someone interested in urban life and urban form, I remember being completely blown away by the relationship between MICA and the surrounding urban environment.

Over the years, I have returned to MICA on several occasions and have invited members of the MICA community to visit RISD and Emily Carr as external reviewers, artists, and conference attendees. I have always felt that MICA is an exceptional institution with extraordinary students, faculty, and staff, and I have had many opportunities to work with this community as someone on the outside looking in. So it's really exciting to be joining MICA and to have the chance to learn and think about what we can do together as someone on the inside looking out.

Juxtapositions: Your background is not in fine arts but in social theory, philosophy, and science and technology studies. How does that color your perspective as a provost at a college of art and design?

Bogen: I think that a person's disciplinary background is very important, but it also only tells one part of the story...that it's not just what you studied at one point in your life, but what you have made of that work, and how it has entered into your broader practice and understanding of who you are and what you do.

As a young faculty member in Boston, I began working with performing and visual artists and people who were inventing the then emergent social media environments that we take for granted today. I realized very quickly that studio-based teaching and learning was incredibly dynamic, open-ended and creative, and it completely changed the way I thought about my work as a faculty member.

Ever since then, I've been engaged in rethinking the conventional categories of "teaching, research, and service" in line with studio-based practices that draw upon the traditions of art and design and recognize the role that human relationships and practices of making play in education. That being said, I am most interested and passionate about how people work collectively to realize larger goals and to grow and learn both as individuals and as communities; and this I think derives in part from my studies of social theory and philosophy.

Juxtapositions: You've acknowledged your passion for community outreach. In light of the recent uprising in Baltimore, how do you think MICA can become even more active as a community partner in the city, using art and design as a way to find new solutions and provide opportunities?

Bogen: I don't yet really know the state-of-the-art at MICA in this area, but I do know that the last decade has been a period of huge growth and learning around approaches to community-based work in art and design institutions. One of the key lessons of this work is that authentic and effective partnerships require a high level of trust and commitment both from the institution and from community stakeholders.

Fewer, stronger, more enduring and impactful partnerships are, in my view, preferable to having many projects that are more diffuse and come and go. This requires focus and leadership across the institution, clarity about our goals and the needs and goals of our partners, and a willingness to work collectively and over a longer term. A lot of what we are talking about is figuring out ways to work with communities to help them build economic and social capacity that they cannot easily build on their own. Art and design have much to offer in this area, but you need to take the time to build the relationships first.

Juxtapositions: The value of a college education is a very topical question. What can an art- or design-centered education provide that traditional models can't, and will that preparation position our students well for their futures?

Bogen: I am a passionate advocate for the principle that a college education is about preparation for life and not only for a job. I believe that we have a responsibility to address our students in the fullness of who they are and who they will become...cognitively, creatively, and emotionally. I also believe that the approaches to education developed within art and design institutions are among the most adept and effective at providing the conditions for individual agency and learning of this kind to occur. Importantly, in a world in which we are increasingly called upon to work across industries, cultures and time-zones, and in which an ability to navigate these new and hybrid contexts is central to the emerging economy, it seems clear that the education provided by art and design institutions is ideal preparation for both life and for work. Our biggest issue is that it is difficult--some would say impossible--to do what we do at scale. And yet we need to find ways to make this experience more affordable and accessible if we are going to live up to our own ideals of building truly diverse educational communities.

Juxtapositions: Shortly after President Hoi arrived at MICA, he mentioned that one of his favorite things about the neighborhood was the rice, beans and plantains dish at On the Hill Cafe. What's caught your attention so far?

Bogen: They have a rice, beans and plantains dish at On the Hill? That sounds amazing! Honestly, although I've spent the last four years of my life in a city known for its progressive food culture, especially around locally sourced and vegan cuisine, I also have a biographical weakness for good grill and BBQ, which is not something they do much of or terribly well in Vancouver. So I was really pleased to see that I arrived on the week that the City Paper did its annual "BBQ Issue."

More, one of the articles was about a vegetarian option they make at Blue Pit called "pulled jackfruit," which struck me as the perfect cultural bridge between Vancouver and Baltimore.

Top image caption: David Bogen, provost and vice president for academic affairs.