Topics: Building Better Communities, Immersive Learning, College of Sciences and Humanities, College of Applied Sciences and Technology

May 5, 2011

Seminars at Ball State's Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry for the 2011-12 academic year will examine the correlation between art and philosophy, vernacular memorials, the intersections of gaming and learning, and the presence of home ownership embedded in children's culture.

Leading the seminars are four new Virginia Ball Center (VBC) Fellows for the coming academic year:

  • Juli Eflin, chairperson of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
  • Debbie Mix, assistant professor of English
  • Paul Gestwicki, associate professor of computer science
  • Carla Earhart, professor of family and consumer sciences

Fellows receive a summer stipend to prepare the seminar and recruit students. Each VBC immersive learning seminar explores the connections among the arts, humanities, sciences and technology. A product is then created to illustrate their collaborative research and interdisciplinary study before being presented to the community in a public forum.

Fall 2011

  • "Making Ideas Visible: Intertwining Art and Philosophy" – Juli Elfin and her students will explore how art makes you think and how philosophy creates powerful images. The members of the seminar will include students representing majors in both art and philosophy, who will teach each other how artistic creativity fuels philosophic inquiry and how philosophic inquiry encourages artistic creativity. The seminar will culminate in a gallery show where the art produced in the seminar will be displayed. The proceeds from the sale of these works will be contributed to the K-12 art fund of the seminar's community partner, Gallery 308.
  • "Vernacular Memorials: Commemoration in Delaware County" – Debbie Mix and her students will investigate specific manifestations of "vernacular memorials," and more importantly, the people and events behind these memorials throughout Delaware County. Vernacular memorials include roadside crosses, car decals, quilts, tattoos and other individual efforts to commemorate losses and joys in the public sphere. The seminar will then create a public exhibition as well as a catalogue for its community partners, the Muncie Public Library and the Delaware County Historical Society.

Spring 2012

  • "Games and Learning: The Underground Railroad" – Paul Gestwicki and his students will examine the intersections of gaming and learning. Students in the seminar will design and develop a computer game on the Underground Railroad. The history, politics and folklore of the Underground Railroad will provide ample opportunities to create compelling characters, intricate plots and engaging themes for an interactive and dramatic computer game. The seminar will share resources and expertise with its community partner, Connor Prairie: An Interactive History Park. The seminar will also collaborate with the Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati.
  • "Beyond the American Housing Dream – It's Child's Play" – Carla Earhart and her students will analyze the way the "American Dream" of home ownership is embedded in children's games, media and toys. The recent housing crisis provides an opportunity for students to re-examine this idea and consider how to encourage the greater public acceptance for other housing options. The seminar will create an interactive website that evaluates images of housing in the culture available to children. Working in collaboration with its community partner, the National Apartment Association, the seminar will also present an exhibit at the Cornerstone Center for the Arts.

For more information about the Virginia Ball Center, visit

By Chanel Richards