CU Denver students helping nonprofits

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Through a Behavior Design course (Design Studio 3), CU Denver students have the chance to work with local nonprofits to help them redevelop their websites and collateral materials, work on branding, and/or strengthen their social media presence. The arrangement is mutually beneficial for students and nonprofits — the students have an opportunity for experiential learning while the nonprofits receive high quality, pro bono design work. The rewarding partnerships forged between Denver students and local nonprofits even led to coverage in the local 5280 Magazine!

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 11.47.44 AMThe course studies behavioral design nudges and explores how design can be used to influence and change behavior. A nudge is an attempt to influence people’s choices and behavior in a predictable way without limiting their options or significantly changing their incentives.

Most recently, teams of students worked with the Breckenridge Film Festival and the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary. The image on the left is a screenshot of Breckenridge Film Festival’s website make over. Each year the class engages a handful of nonprofits and provides about $15,000 worth of professional services at no cost to the organization. For more information, contact Professor Michelle Carpenter.

Student film looks at what an arts education means today

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A documentary film project — created by several students and a professor from the Film and Television program — follows the lives of three students enrolled in CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media. Their film, “The Creative Method,” was screened by Rocky Mountain PBS and the Sun and Sand Music and Film Festival. The documentary also won two awards: the Spotlight Documentary Film Award and the CU Denver Research and Creative Symposium’s Outstanding Scholarly Activity.

Creative MethodIn 2008, America suffered an economic disaster that lead to what is called “the Great Recession”. Unemployment rates soared and the nation teetered on the edge of depression while both new and veteran workers struggled to make ends meet. As a result of these uncertain times, many students began to shy away from the arts in favor of careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. This, combined with the 31% decrease in funding for the arts, led to the creation of “The Creative Mind,” which attempts to reignite America’s interest in arts education and shed light on the crisis of dwindling arts education.

“The Creative Method” follows the lives of CU Denver College of Arts & Media students as they pursue an education in different artistic disciplines — film, painting, and recording arts. They share their experiences as artists both on and off campus in their final spring semester before graduation. The film highlights the students’ personal artistic philosophy and delves into the importance of art in higher education as a whole. Click here to watch the trailer and here to watch the full film (~27 min).

The film was created by Jessica McGaugh, a professor in CAM’s Film and Television program, and the following students: Jennie Tran, Hanna Reeves, Justin Mickens, Taylor Dew, Zach Wyman, Steven Allmendinger, Matt Telsey, Nick Luster, Jack Roberts, Ryan Ferlic, Lahne Annandale, and Chris Sandoval.

Music studio for homeless youth

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Urban Peak StudioIn 2012, a CU Denver music instructor and student resurrected a makeshift music studio at Urban Peak, a Denver shelter for youth experiencing homelessness. Owen Kortz, an instructor in the Singer/Songwriter Program, together with Owen Trujillo, a student and member of the local hip-hop group 2MX2, began recording youth rapping and singing. With a performance and recording arts background, the two secured instrument donations in 2013/2014. In late 2015, they raised $5000 through Fundly, a crowd-source fundraising site, and purchased professional recording studio equipment. They are now in the process of setting up that new equipment, which includes high-end microphones and headphones, and industry standard recording software.

Their goal is to make the studio available to youth 5 days a week. Owen Kortz and Owen Trujillo believe strongly in the cathartic and transformative power of music composition and expression, and have seen firsthand how a little time in the music studio can change the youths’ mood for the day. They are excited to finalize the new setup in the studio and to get more students and volunteers involved in working with youth on their music.

For more information, contact Owen Kortz. To hear the youths’ music, visit their SoundCloud page.

Documentary on sex trafficking

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Sex trafficking is not just affecting people from other countries. It happens right in the US, and right around the corner. Our society has had an undercurrent of ‘acceptance’ through the ignorant belief that these people want to partake in this activity. But in reality 99% of the people who are sex workers have been coerced in some way. This film — Live Through This: Victims of Sex Trafficking — introduces audiences to three former sex workers who have managed to escape this lifestyle. Through their stories the film will enlighten viewers about their plight and communicate that these people are not criminals, but actually victims. This documentary was produced by David Liban, Chair of the Department of Theatre, Film and Video Production at the College of Arts & Media.

Photography competition highlights water in Denver’s landscape

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In January 2015, the University of Colorado Denver offered this challenge to engineering and photography students: Can you show us how water fits into Denver’s urban landscape? With funding from the Shoemaker Research Fund, this photography competition was organized jointly by the Hydrology and Hydraulics Program of the Department of Civil Engineering and the Photography Area of the Department of Visual Arts. Eight teams, each comprising one engineering student and one photography student, submitted prints.

Click here to see the winning photos.