Cumulus new President Mariana Amatullo takes the role with excitement, urgency and purpose
Dear Cumulus Members and colleagues,
Good afternoon. I am honored to be stepping forward as your candidate for the Presidency of Cumulus. I do so with a genuine sense of excitement, urgency and purpose.
As a current Board Member concluding two consecutive terms of service and having watched closely our current President Luisa Collina leading our association with incredible care for these past six years, I am fully aware of the great responsibility that the stewardship of our association signifies.
In seeking your vote let me express some of my aspirations for the role and say why I am using these 3 terms: excitement, urgency and purpose to qualify how I am approaching this exceptional opportunity.
First of all, a word about my excitement: I have a great sense of anticipation for the role because in taking the stewardship of Cumulus, the only l association that brings together art, design, and media schools and universities internationally, I will be newly accountable with our new board for an institution that is in very solid footing as Luisa presented in her President’s report and one that has had a very grounded trajectory of growth since its founding. I believe that these are signs that point to Cumulus’ capability to be what we call in management theory a “learning organization:” learning organizations are ones that have the capacity to experiment, learn from experience, and transform themselves over time.
Thanks to the vision of our Cumulus President Emeritus Professor Yrjö Sotamaa and the Cumulus founding board, thanks to the expansive and bold work that happened under the leadership of Honorary President Christian Guellerin, and the boards that followed –ones who embraced the idea of the association becoming a truly international body in 2006–and thanks to the deepening of Cumulus’ reach under the leadership of Luisa and my peers in the board for the past 6 years, today I inherit in Cumulus an organization that is robust and that has shown it knows how to nurture its cultural values and uphold the mission of knowledge sharing that brings us together. And It is very special for me to say this now in the presence of the leadership of all three of our former presidents who are joining us in this room today.
So as we approach the 30th anniversary of Cumulus’ founding next year, I invite us to think of Cumulus as a learning organization that is entering its full adult age. What is the new learning that we must seek in this new phase of maturity for Cumulus? I am really keen to collaborate with you all as members to not only celebrate our accomplishments to date and reaffirm our core values, but to also address this critical future-oriented question and set our sights far and wide into the next thirty years. I believe we have a lot of work ahead of us as “reflective practitioners” to continue re-energizing our value proposition and raison d’être as an organization. We are now an increasingly diverse collective with membership of institutions in the Global North, Global South, East and West and we must be cognizant of how to leverage and honor that new scale and scope.
Secondly: I take on this role with a great sense of urgency. For me leadership is always an invitation to catalyze collective action. I see in Cumulus as a very privileged platform that we all have access to as members and I am keen to unlock spaces for action in a spirit of true shared governance.
As a community of artists, designers, educators, and researchers we understand well that in an increasingly networked and borderless world when it comes to technological advances and the fluidity of how we can translate and transfer knowledge, the role of criticality and imagination that our disciplines bring is more necessary than ever—and only bound to continue mounting in significance. We are a community that understands deeply that knowledge is produced collectively in the 21st century. There is indeed a lot of evidence that we hold about how learning has become more collaborative and more international than ever. Scholarship no longer emerges from isolated sources, but from international partnerships, from communities that exchange with one another, and from interdisciplinary conversations that overcome institutional silos and cross borders. Cumulus understood this reality early on 30 years ago. As we move forward, I have the aspiration to help us amplify this point of strength. I would like to explore with your support and the contributions of our new board and the Secretariat how we might strategically build on, and shape new programming for our members that might create the space for new forms of knowledge production that involve collaboration and active engagement with the world.
I believe we must leverage our association and our individual capacities to be bold in how Cumulus might become more fully implicated in the social and political context of the Anthropocene era. How do we become an effective advocate for the pluralism of pedagogical and transdisiciplinary research approaches that you all as member institutions excel at? How might Cumulus create new distributed avenues for knowledge sharing and programmatic priority areas to communicate more effectively, come together and continue celebrating—to borrow from Herbert Simon—the capacity of human beings to devise preferred courses of action to transform existing situations into preferred ones?
Thirdly and lastly: I am taking on this role with a great sense of personal purpose. As a child of diplomats from Argentina I consider myself quite privileged for having had the opportunity to learn early on the power that global learning affords us. It is about stepping outside of our own mental models and unquestioned perspectives to listen and dialogue with others. At a time where stereotypes, conflict and misunderstanding seem to be particularly rampant in the world, and where we witness the tragic consequences of intolerance between many human beings all too often, being able to empathize with one and other and see through each-other’s eyes represents a foundational call for action. It is a call that has global ramifications that extend far beyond higher education and any of our individual institutions.
To conclude, these are just a few of the key reasons that motivate my stepping forward. Thank you again for your vote of confidence. I am looking forward to collaborating with our new board and the dedicated team of Eija Salmi and Justyna Molik in our Secretariat and serving you as your next President.
Let’s get started!
Mariana Amatullo, PhD
Vice Provost for Global Strategic Initiatives
Associate Professor, Strategic Design and Management
Parsons School of Design, The New School
As the Cumulus President Mariana Amatullo will be acting between the years 2019-2022.
Here with Cumulus President-Emeritus Yrjö Sotamaa (on the left) and Honorary Presidents Luisa Collina (2013-2019) and Christian Guellerin (2007-2013)(on the right).