Art History Professor Presents Research at Southeast College Art National Conference

Faculty Staff Headshots Convocation 2019 (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University) 1/16/19

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University professor does not believe art history has to put non-art majors to sleep.

Dr. Ashley Busby said at a recent conference that students find relating art to other subjects and modern issues more interesting. The associate professor of art history also works to design distinctive assignments for in-person or virtual learning.

“These courses seek to take the otherwise historical and place it in real-world or contemporary terms as often as possible,” she says. “I also stress links to other disciplines like history, the sciences, anthropology, etc., with which the student may have some experience or training.”

Such was the discussion of a panel she presented at the Southeast College Art Conference 2020 hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University. The research came from her paper, “The Upper Level Fine Arts Survey: Interdisciplinary, Contemporary, and Thematic Approaches.”

Dr. Busby discussed two 300-level courses during the virtual panel, “The Art History Survey: How to Keep the Material Engaging for YOU.” One is a Nicholls Online cultural heritage art survey course, and the second a face-to-face art and science course.

Modern-day topics for the Nicholls online course can include the impact of tourism on sites like Venice and Machu Picchu. Looting and smuggling objects is relevant, as Hobby Lobby’s Museum of the Bible recently had to return items gained through illicit deals. For art and science, Busby has looked at how climate change can harm objects. Video game art engages students, as well.

“In some classes, my students are non-art majors looking to check off a requirement on their degree plan,” Dr. Busby says. “I recognize this function of the course but also feel that topical, contemporary themes can make such requirements more meaningful to students. And that’s at the heart of my job as an instructor.”

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