A message from Cumulus President- COVID-19 response

Cumulus is a resilient community and we are making the intentional choice to embrace the challenge in a designerly way, identifying those courses of action that might allow us to change the present situation into preferred alternatives for more sustainable and hopeful futures.

Dear Colleagues,

As Cumulus President, I am writing to all from my home city of New York, which is currently a shadow of its former self. I am reaching out on behalf of our Executive Board and Secretariat to express Cumulus’ support to all of its members as our educational institutions mobilize with unprecedented creativity in response to the unfolding Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For us at Cumulus, a global association deeply committed to advancing higher education and research across borders for artists and designers, and focused for the last thirty years in creating spaces for our members to come together in learning and community, it is unquestionable that this spiraling pandemic represents a “black swan.” Many of us share the sentiment that this is a highly unpredictable challenge that is moving at exponential speed. While the full magnitude of the disruption for so many aspects of our institutions’ operations and programs is hard to grasp, we can anticipate already that it will cause changes of paradigmatic proportions that will also impact how we live, work and play in the long term. Cumulus is a resilient community and we are making the intentional choice to embrace the challenge in a designerly way, identifying those courses of action that might allow us to change the present situation into preferred alternatives for more sustainable and hopeful futures. We see this crisis as an invitation to both reaffirm the value of our programs and rich exchanges when we come together in our conferences, and to find the silver lining in the challenge we are confronting. One clear objective for us as an association will be to accelerate some work underway already in the past year with initiatives such as the CumulusGreen2020 student competition that deploy digital platforms to create connection and participation outside physical mobility. As we work together with the board and Secretariat in the coming months, we look forward to updating you as we expand access to virtual environments for many of our programs, conferences and activities.

In the more immediate short term, please look for an announcement by the week of March 30 with specific updates about adjustments to the current published schedule of our conferences and programs.

In closing let me share how deeply inspired I have been by so many colleagues near and far from my own university. Everyone is embracing digital tools and adapting pedagogy to continue guaranteeing the best quality learning journey for our students. There is a palpable sense of humanity, of sharing, and of empathy in this massive endeavor, which I find quite uplifting–the realization that somehow “we are all in it together” and that we will emerge from this crisis somehow more connected, more compassionate, and perhaps more resolute to carry forward with the creative confidence necessary to innovate beyond the present uncertainty.

I send best wishes to all in our Cumulus family during these challenging times. Until soon!

Mariana Amatullo, PhD
President, Cumulus
Vice Provost for Global Strategic Initiatives, The New School

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