The core of the course focus was a cross-disciplinary overview of water—to understand its biological, environmental, cultural, political, and aesthetic dimensions. The trip was designed around two community engagement projects:
- In collaboration with Waterways Ireland, the students developed research proposals and a large community event to help the small town of Rathangan design community engagement programs with an environmental focus.
- Along with researchers at University College Cork (UCC), students and faculty designed a performance for Global Water Dances Day and established a new research collective entitled Bodies of Water. The performance took place as part of the international Midsummer Festival in Cork City. Over 100 people attended the performance, which took place outside the famous Glucksman Gallery on UCC’s main campus (a lawn area that is appropriately also a flood plain).
In addition, the team did a design thinking workshop for faculty at UCC, one of Ireland’s premiere research universities. The trip received excellent reviews from the students, and JMU President Alger and his family visited the class in Ireland and attended the “Bodies of Water” performance at UCC.
The project team plans to return to Ireland during the summer of 2019 to work with the same partners and continue the development of a larger research project for which they aim to apply for funding for further development.