Nearly two dozen faculty representing University of Maryland graduate programs – including medicine, law, and social work in Baltimore and from journalism, business, and engineering in College Park - gathered on Sept. 15 for an interdisciplinary roundtable discussion, “Using the Arts to Teach,” at the School of Law. The event was supported by the Ron Fish Memorial Fund.
Participants discussed ethical lessons imparted in three audio plays that they had listened to before the gathering, and how they might use drama to get their students thinking about how they could apply those lessons in their future careers. The roundtable was spearheaded by Professor Karen Rothenberg of the School of Law, who is spending much of the 2009-10 year on a research sabbatical in New York interviewing playwrights about inspiring audiences to consider ethical problems.
Rothenberg invited Susan Loewenberg, the top executive of L.A. Theatre Works, a nonprofit that uses popular screen actors to perform hundreds of plays in an audio format to attend. Rothenberg also invited faculty from each University of Maryland graduate school to participate. Participants discussed three L.A. Theatre Works audioplays which they had listened to prior to the roundtable: Secret Order, Major Barbara, and Agnes of God.
Loewenberg says she is hoping to fine-tune the program and replicate it for professional schools across the country. With an indexed database of 300 plays, she says L.A. Theatre Works has dramatic situations that can be applied to any discipline or professional challenge.
"Great plays really teach us who we are, what we do, how to think," she says. "Life is messy, and good plays are messy. They ask more questions than they answer."
The session was led by Alan Hornstein, a Professor Emeritus of the School of Law, who used drama in his teaching and taught many interdisciplinary seminars using arts to explore the complex issues various professions face for over 30 years.
View the full list of participants.
Through the School of Law’s Linking Law and the Arts program, and more recently its LEAD Initiative, the School of Law has been exploring the power of the arts to enhance students’ understanding of legal, social, public policy and ethical issues.