Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Interdisciplinary Teaching in Central Asia: Interrogation of the Human Condition through the Visual Arts

Muneera Spence (Umedaly).

Visual artists and Graphic designers educators transcend the limits of teaching within the practice and explore working with new partners in developing nations to examine/study works of art in order to extrapolate cultural identity and affect social change. It will also initiate discussion on wider application of the interdisciplinary nature of critical thinking and creative problem solving methodologies and focus on the arena of development of teaching strategies within and across disciplines.

My work with the Aga Khan Humanities Project in Tajikistan initiated the case study of this collaboration. The thrust of the project was to bring together presenters from various creative fields to share their knowledge, sensibilities, and tools of evaluation with 65 professors from three Central Asian countries. The intent was to focus on the arts as an alternative source of understanding the nature of the peoples of a paradigm and that this information can be harnessed in the teaching of the Humanities in general. The Aga Khan Humanities project addressed profound questions addressing the nature of the Human condition in their curriculum particularly suited to an interdisciplinary approach with the objective of self-examination that would creatively affect social change.

As an artist and graphic designer, the skills I brought to the groups were: the understanding of the nature of the creative process, modes of communication, ideas that communicate, and assessments of the message. The professors were getting both content and teaching methods while collaborating with me on interpretations of works of art with cultural clarity.


Muneera Spence (Umedaly)  (United States)
Assistant Prof
Graphic Design Department of Art
Oregon State University

Muneera U Spence is a Professor of Graphic Design at Oregon State University. Her research interests are in exploring interdisciplinary and collaborative teaching methodologies applied to Graphic Design curricula and the humanities at OSU and in Newly Independent Nations specifically in Central Asia. Her professional work in Graphic Design constitutes a broad range of projects. Her personal work explores mediums such as painting, drawing, photography and concrete poetry, focusing on issues pertaining to the family in a multi-cultural context.

  • Interdisciplinary teaching

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)