SEI faculty workshop | Collaborative Teaching

Workshop Description

Collaborative Teaching through the Witness Tree Project

Since 2009, Dale Broholm (Senior Critic, Furniture Design) and Daniel Cavicchi (Professor, HPSS), in conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS), have worked to develop a collaborative model for teaching and learning, called “The Witness Tree Project.”

Witness trees are long-standing trees that have “witnessed” key events, trends, and people in American history; the Project arranges for fallen witness trees to be shipped from NPS sites to RISD, where, in a joined history seminar and furniture studio, students interpret the history the tree “witnessed” and make relevant objects from the tree’s wood. In addition, the Project variously involves field trips, guest lectures, and exhibitions of students’ objects.

The Project is an experiment in interdisciplinarity that affords opportunities to reflect on and construct connections between in-depth disciplinary experiences. Broadly, the course aligns the act of creating objects and the act of creating history. Students’ designed objects, from historic wood, are shaped by historical analysis, and their historical interpretations are honed by questions that arise in the processes of design and critique.

In this workshop, Broholm and Cavicchi will discuss the evolution of their unique teaching collaboration and the challenges they encountered along the way, inviting participants to think about possible applications and insights for their own teaching.

Instructor Bios

Daniel Cavicchi is Vice Provost and Professor of History, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences at RISD. His publications include Listening and Longing: Music Lovers in the Age of Barnum; Tramps Like Us: Music and Meaning Among Springsteen Fans; and My Music: Explorations of Music in Daily Life, in addition to numerous journal and anthology essays. He was the founding editor of Wesleyan University Press’s Music: Interview book series and has created secondary curricula for Experience Music Project and PBS, as well as curated exhibits for the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, including its inaugural special exhibit, Songs of Conscience, Sounds of Freedom.

Dale Broholm is a Senior Critic in the Department of Furniture Design at RISD. He has been designing and making custom furniture out of his Boston area studio for 25 years; his practice is buoyed by an active schedule of lectures and jurying. Most recently, he led a Furniture Design workshop in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, presented at a trade conference in Shen Yang, China, and taught at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. He initiated the Witness Tree Project with the National Park Service, as part of his ongoing interest in the integration of historical and scholarly research as a tool to inform and shape furniture design.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 6:15pm to 7:45pm

Teaching and Learning Lab in the Center for Social Equity & Inclusion
293 S. Main St., Providence, RI 02906

Event Type

SEI Event, Workshop, SEI Workshop


Academic Affairs, SEI - Social Equity Inclusion Initiative

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