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College of Arts and Sciences

Dancers, filmmakers and artist to work with USC students with McCausland fund support

Students in the University of South Carolina College of Arts and Sciences will soon work alongside world-renowned dancers, collaborate with international filmmakers, and study the connection between art and research alongside an acclaimed graphic novelist. 

These are among several new initiatives sponsored by the college’s McCausland Foundation Programs, which support transformational opportunities for students and faculty. They join ongoing programs that are giving students experience in research, art, politics and artificial intelligence. 

“Students throughout the College of Arts and Sciences are enjoying impactful experiences thanks to the ingenuity of their faculty and the support of our McCausland programs,” says Joel Samuels, dean of the college. “I’m grateful to the McCausland family for their generosity that has allowed us to start bold initiatives that benefit our students and our community.” 

Complexions Contemporary Ballet partnership 

In the first of the newly McCausland projects, students in the Betsy Blackmon Dance Program at USC will collaborate with Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Two members of Complexions will spend the next several weeks in residence at the university to choreograph a new performance for the students using Complexions’ unique style and dance methods. The entire Complexions company will join the program’s annual dance gala at 6:30 p.m. April 6 at the Koger Center for the Arts. 

Complexions Contemporary Ballet has performed in 20 countries on five continents, earning praise for its fusion of dance methods and styles from different cultures. Learn more about the partnership with Complexions on the Department of Theatre and Dance website. 

Talks and workshops by Ebony Flowers 

Ebony Flowers will visit campus for a weeklong series of classes and workshops related to creativity and comics. In addition to a public talk about her acclaimed graphic novel Hot Comb, she will present workshops about making comics as part of research for graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences. She also will speak in classes for several departments. Qiana Whitted, a professor of English and African American studies is organizing Flowers’ visit. 

Flowers is a storyteller, educator and artist who creates comics primarily about the experiences of Black women. Hot Comb, a collection of coming-of-age stories centered on Black hair, received the 2019 Will Eisner Comic Industry Award, the 2019 Believer Book Award for Fiction and the 2020 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel. She has published comics in The New York Times, The New Yorker and The Paris Review, as well as academic articles about the use of comics in education and anthropology. She taught high school biology before focusing her career on comics. 

International collaboration in the Get On Set initiative 

Kim Faulk-Jorgensen, a Noregian actor and filmmaker who has worked in Europe and Asia, and film producer Amanda Grupp will collaborate with the Get On Set initiative, a program in which USC students make a film each summer. From Fall 2024 through Summer 2025, they will work with students to develop, workshop and produce a film. They also will mentor students and teach workshops about marketing creative work. Dustin Whitehead, a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, is organizing the partnership. 

Faulk-Jorgensen graduated from the Oslo Academy of the Arts and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in Singapore. His short film Jaehyung in the Futures premiered at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, and he has a feature script shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters lab. In addition to stage appearances at the National Theatre of Norway, Faulk-Jorgensen has multiple TV and film acting credits, including the Netflix film Troll

Grupp is a strategy consultant and filmmaker who has produced two previous films in partnership with the Get On Set Initiative, Hero (2022) and The Grand Strand (2023). She holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from DePaul University and a master’s degree in business administration from Georgia Institute of Technology. 

Online Program and Course Development 

The McCausland programs also are supporting the development of new online courses and programs, including the following newly announced initiatives. 

Online Master of Arts in International Studies 

Lead Faculty: Matthew Wilson, Department of Political Science 

The M.A. in International Studies will be redesigned and made available online to meet the needs of members of the military, as well as other students interested in working in international relations. The program will continue to be offered on campus as well. 

Online Master of Arts in Art Education 

Lead Faculty: Hyunji Kwon 

Moving the M.A. in Art Education fully online will enable USC to serve art teachers from throughout South Carolina and the region. Working art teachers will be able to finish a master’s degree more quickly and without having to travel to the Columbia campus. Students in the Master of Arts in Teaching in Art Education also will benefit as their program’s core courses will become available online. 

Additional Women’s and Gender Studies Online Courses 

Lead Faculty: Dawn Campbell 

The B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies will be available online thanks to a previous McCausland Innovation grant. The new award supports continued online course development, including Women's Health (WGST 113) and Gender and Labor (WGST 315). 

Medical Ethics Online 

Lead Faculty: Leah McClimans 

The course Medical Ethics (PHIL 321) often fills to capacity as it is required for the medical humanities minor and also fulfills Carolina Core requirements. Developing an online option allows the course to be taught more frequently and to accommodate students’ high level of interest. 

First Year English Course Revisions 

Lead Faculty: Nicole Fisk 

USC’s First Year English program is primarily taught in person, but online delivery will help more students complete the course, especially as the freshman class grows. This grant provides professional development for faculty and graduate instructors as they redesign the program’s courses for online delivery and develop resources to support those teaching online. 

Media Arts 

Lead Faculty: Evan Meaney 

An online course in the Fundamentals of Media Arts (MART 210) will help to meet growing student demand for this course, which is a prerequisite for other courses in the media arts major. 

About the McCausland Programs 

The McCausland Foundation Programs were created in 2013 through a gift from Peter McCausland, a 1971 graduate of USC’s history program, and his wife, Bonnie McCausland. The programs include a faculty fellowship, an innovation fund and a visiting scholars program. For more information about funded projects, visit the McCausland Programs Awards Page

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