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Teaching at the Smart: Integrating Object-Based Learning into the Core

Study room set up for Core class on Media Aesthetics

The University of Chicago’s Core curriculum is as much about cultivating diverse modes of inquiry as it is exploring a common set of ideas across the disciplines. Utilizing the Smart Museum of Art’s expansive collection—which ranges from ancient artifacts to contemporary photography—can complement traditional text-based methods by providing another platform for close reading and evidence-based arguments.

At this forum, presented in collaboration with the Chicago Center for Teaching, we aim to foster a dialogue about the pedagogical value of incorporating object-driven teaching into courses in the Core and offer an opportunity for participants to reflect on how they might make use of these campus resources in their own curricula. Faculty from three different Core sequences will share specific case studies demonstrating how they have engaged students with particular objects from the Smart Museum, providing a foundation for a broader discussion of the goals and challenges of this mode of teaching.


Adrienne Brown
Assistant Professor, Department of English; Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture; and Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality
On “Media Aesthetics”

Jonathan M. Hall
Phyllis Fay Horton Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities and Professor in the Departments of History and Classics and the College
On “Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations”

Valerie Levan
Lecturer, Division of the Humanities
On “Reading Cultures”

Bill Brown
Senior Adviser to the Provost for Arts
Karla Scherer Distinguished Service Professor in American Culture, Department of English, Department of Visual Arts, and Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality


This program event is directed at current and prospective instructors in the Core. It is open to all University faculty, graduate students, and postdocs, regardless of discipline. Light refreshments will be provided after the program. Space is limited. Please register by April 20.  

Sponsored by the Smart Museum of Art and the Chicago Center for Teaching