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the London HUA Project Center
The WPI Media Project site was created in January 2017 to showcase the creative works and other deliverables submitted by WPI students participating in the London Humanities and Arts Project Center. In addition to featuring these works to other WPI students, an objective of this site is to serve as a resource for others by providing information, multimedia, documentation, and other content for future London Humanities and Arts (HUA) students. The site was created by V.J. Manzo, Director of the London Humanities and Arts project center from 2013 to the present as a companion to the recruiting site http://www.wpilondon.org also created by Manzo.
Restructuring: 2013 - 2017
V.J. Manzo became director of the London HUA center in 2013. The project center failed to meet the minimum number of students to run for several years before being restructured significantly. The major restructuring came in 2016 in terms of the flexibility of enrollment and standardization of expectations and curriculum reform. Previously, the WPI humanities and arts faculty member who advised the projects each year accepted student applicants in their own discipline; primarily, music faculty recruited and worked onsite with music students. Beginning in 2016, the program was changed so that the student area of focus onsite was determined by each student's humanities and arts degree needs; any WPI humanities and arts faculty member could advise any student on up to three interdisciplinary independent study projects in these areas. For each independent area of focus, project milestone, students must provide a 1) thorough review of the topic background, and 2) a creative deliverable component (a piece, a position essay, a documentary, or other original contribution) detailing the elements of that deliverable that are directly informed or inspired by the background research; this restructuring helps facilitate HUA advisors' evaluation and analysis of student work outside of their primary discipline.
The first group to pilot this restructured program was in summer 2017. The restructured curriculum included the creation of the project profile/project milestone format and a detailed onsite daily activity schedule aimed at providing an immersive cultural experience through engaging interactions and personal reflections. These efforts aimed to result in students creating and editing detailed articles as they continue to complete their project milestones and the daily activities. The deliverable wiki site format (this site) introduced transparency into the center; students and faculty could see every contribution made by a student on their profile page from a complete list of all created and edited articles to milestone projects. The wiki format also introduced transmedia storytelling elements as the core style of the deliverable; students participated in daily activities such as museum visits and site exploration, and captured rich multimedia content to infuse into their project milestones. Manzo also created a variety of templates for students to use when beginning to draft milestones, articles, and their profile pages. The restructuring also yielded the need for a new WPI course created by Manzo, HU2900 - Project Center Preparation, to serve as a co-requisite prep course for students participating in the onsite London experience. Students participate in this course the term prior to departure and devise the three goals of their project milestones in addition to completing other preparatory work related to the onsite experience.
The first group of WPI students participating in the restructured London HUA project center experience occurred in 2017 with 24 students under the advisement of WPI HUA professors V.J. Manzo, music, and Constance Clark, history.
The final Milestone projects, here, represent partial fulfillment of the course requirements in addition to their onsite activities, which required the creation of personal journal reflections posted to their portfolio pages, and the creation of supplemental articles pertaining to specific details of each onsite activity.
In 2018, the LHUA program, once again, ran at full capacity. HUA Professors Esther Boucher and David Spanagel advised 23 students onsite through the program.
After these two consecutive onsite experiences in 2017 and 2018, in Fall 2018, it was determined by the HUA department chair that London HUA, along with the other HUA project centers (Morocco, Argentina, etc.), would receive direction, by and large, by a committee of HUA faculty with regard to the types of projects that students undertook onsite, mong other things, rendering the role of Director redundant and, likely, subordinate to the committee. Manzo resigned from this role in September 2018.