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Faculty Performances and Exhibition Celebrate Milestones at Rensselaer


Media Relations

September 26, 2012

Faculty Performances and Exhibition Celebrate Milestones at Rensselaer

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Marks 40th Anniversary of Department of the Arts and 30th Anniversary of Department of Science and Technology Studies

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Department of the Arts with a series of events, including a concert and exhibition of electronic arts showcasing the full spectrum of talent within the department. The university will also mark the 30th anniversary of the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) with an open house on the signature Rensselaer Design, Innovation, and Society program.

The events Oct. 5 and 6 are hosted by the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HAsS), within which both departments reside, and are part of Rensselaer Reunion and Homecoming, according to Michael Century, a professor of new media and music, and a member of the committee that organized the events.

“Rensselaer has a tremendously well qualified and eclectic faculty within the visual, digital, and musical arts,” Century said. “With reference to the concert, for example, you can hear acoustic and electronic, contemporary and world music in one evening; that broad a range is very unusual.”

The anniversary celebration of the arts department will also include a faculty panel on “Arts and Liberal Arts Education at Rensselaer Today” on Friday, Oct. 5. And the HASS Dean will host a reception on Saturday in Evelyn’s Café in the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC).

Century said the concert — which includes HASS Dean Mary Simoni — is a rare chance for Rensselaer students, faculty, alumni, and the community to experience an array of genres in one setting.

“We have people doing pieces using live electronic processing — such as those being performed by Curtis Bahn, Neil Rolnick, and myself — and we also have Pauline Oliveros’ beautiful ‘Tree/Peace,’ an acoustic piano trio, and Ensemble Congeros, directed by Eddie Ade Knowles,” Century said.  Similarly, he said “the visual exhibit will include traditional media of painting and sculpture, with works by faculty like Caren Canier and Larry Kagan, side by side with colleagues who are exploring virtual environments, interactive installations, game design like Ben Chang, Silvia Ruzanka, Shawn Lawson, and Kathleen Ruiz. Not to be missed is the department’s penchant for humor and social commentary, in works by Nao Bustamante and Igor Vamos.”

The Rensselaer Department of the Arts is generally considered to be the first integrated electronic arts program within a research university in the United States, according to HASS. Founded in 1972, the department initiated the inclusion of electronic media in 1981. The department features an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to the arts with a focus on the use of experimental and electronic media in artistic creation and performance. The work of the department's distinguished faculty and alumni is represented internationally in museums, galleries, festivals, publications, and performances.

Founded in 1982, STS is one of the oldest and most highly recognized programs of its type, and one of the few in the world that offers STS degrees from baccalaureate to doctoral levels. Degree programs emphasize the cultural, historical, economic, political, and social dimensions of scientific and technological society, with a focus on ethical and values issues. The internationally recognized faculty members have backgrounds in anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, social psychology, and sociology.

STS activities planned for the weekend include panel discussions with alumni, a keynote presentation, senior faculty retrospectives, program overviews, and a series of posters

highlighting the department’s impact across numerous dimensions.

A schedule of the Department of the Arts and STS events is below. A full schedule of Reunion and Homecoming events can be found at the Rensselaer Alumni Relations Reunion and Homecoming Web page at



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About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, 32 research centers, more than 145 academic programs, and a dynamic community made up of more than 7,600 students and more than 100,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include more than 145 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration.