Since its inception in 2011, the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University has offered 35 free programs ranging from cultural events to educational activities thanks to the generosity of its donors and the support of the University.
Equally important for the fulfilment of the Inserra Chair’s mission to promote Italian and Italian American culture in all its variety – from history to literature, film, theater, food, design, architecture, business, and more – has been the regular and enthusiastic participation of a diverse audience. Students, professors, staff and Montclair State alumni, along with local residents and NYC-based supporters continue to remind the Chair of the importance of this work by attending and providing feedback. After all, what is a lecture, a concert, or an exhibition without an engaged audience?
Below, our participants share their insights on the meaning and value of cultural events on a campus that, while offering opportunities for academic growth, also serves its community through a calendar of original and stimulating events.
STUDENTS have expressed great enthusiasm about cultural events because they give them the chance to explore their fields of study beyond the classroom experience. They are inspired by the contributions of artists, scholars, and professionals who serve as role models for them. After attending panels, book presentations, or film screenings, a good number of students often choose to develop their final projects around the topic of the event because of the invaluable insights that it offered them. Some students have even identified their future professional paths thanks to events such as translation-focused programs. Important tips for students attending events
- PROFESSORS who have embraced the cultural events as part of collaborative endeavors, are able to enrich the teaching experience by incorporating the events into their syllabi. They often require their students to attend these events in lieu of a regular class meeting. While some professors opt for extra-credit only, it is the intra-curricular approach that truly complements and enhances the content of the class. Linking teaching units to the subject of the events prepares the students and offers opportunities for reflection and creation both before and after the event. Professors can collaborate on the development of these activities on Canvas and share the results such as final papers that are centered on an event’s theme. These cultural events provide professors with a uniquely interactive and interdisciplinary approach to teaching. Important tips for professors attending events with their classes
- TEACHERS from the K-12 system, and in particular middle and high schools, often bring students to events that provide opportunities for cultural and linguistic enrichment in line with their curriculums. In some cases, special events are designed to bring high school and university students together in order to create a bridge across the two systems and introduce students to the university environment (see Theater workshop). The Inserra Chair occasionally provides funds for transportation to/from campus. Events always provide Professional Development opportunities through our ADP Center. To learn more, inquire at the event registration table about how to obtain credits.
- COLLABORATORS share the commitment to promote the rich variety of the Italian culture with a wide array of programs. The success of the Inserra Chair’s robust calendar of Italian and Italian American cultural activities and events is the result of the dedicated efforts of many. We are grateful to all of those who collaborate with us both within and outside of the University. Important tips on collaborations
STAFF MEMBERS cherish the opportunity to attend cultural events at the end of a day of work that are just steps away from their offices. Events not only provide cultural nourishment at a personal level, they also directly connect staff contributions to the work of professors and students. Staff members often bring families and friends to these events. These cultural and social exchanges and interactions connect the many components of our complex University community.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS, ALUMNI AND DONORS attend these events not just because they are by Italian origin, or because they are passionate Italophiles, but also because they find the subjects covered by the events to have broad, if not, universal interest. Regardless of their backgrounds, or professional fields, or ages, they always find something stimulating and interesting to enjoy. They also appreciate the exceptional opportunity to take advantage of these programs at no cost. Events of this caliber would most likely entail a ticket if presented at a theater or auditorium off campus. Additionally, community members appreciate that the vast and diverse Inserra calendar holds events in their own area, at an easily accessible and welcoming campus that eagerly serves the local community, saving them a trip to New York to be part of a cultural scene.
Ultimately, the Inserra cultural programs continue to attract interest because they represent an occasion for social encounters, personal relations and professional networking – over food, as Italian customs require!
Your presence and support is an engine of inspiration for present and future programs. We hope to see many more of you this year for our exciting new calendar of events. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter – and feel free to send us your valuable feedback.