Dean’s Corner

Apr 18, 2022

Adaptation really has been the name of the game over these past two years. We’ve learned to adapt (whether we wanted to or not) to Zoom meetings, working remotely, and wearing masks in public. We may have taken up new hobbies, and many of us have had to take on extra caring and educational responsibilities.

These changes have by no means been easy, and I don’t think I’m alone in wishing that we didn’t have a global pandemic to force these changes on us. However, the fact is we have adapted–and we will continue to adapt.

In many ways, adaptation is at the heart of what we do and who we are in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. We adjust and change because the world around us adjusts and changes, and this is the sort of nimbleness we instill in our students. We adapted to the creation of our new college by finding a new name that better reflected our combined identity, and we even adapted the name of this very publication!

There’s a statistic that often gets cited about the jobs of tomorrow–that between 50 and 80 percent of the jobs 20 years from now don’t yet exist. Students who study the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences are the ones who will be poised to take those jobs because they will have the critical thinking skills, cultural competency, and emotional intelligence that will allow them to thrive in new environments and situations.

CAHSS’ students, staff, and faculty consistently make adaptation a hallmark of their work, and the stories included in this issue of Confluence present excellent examples of such tailoring. From our student Erin Cain, whose State Department internship in Germany had to be virtual (but follow German hours while in the US), to alumna Nancy XiáoRong Valentine’s art examining themes of being Asian in rural America, to Dr. Sara Blaylock’s exploration of how East German artists found space to express themselves in the face of cultural oppression from the government, to UMD Theatre finding unique ways to stage live productions, CAHSS consistently presents a model of adaptation and resilience.

There’s one other big change happening right now that I know will excite many of you. AB Anderson Hall, long the home of Art & Design, Communication, History, and Philosophy, is finally undergoing a renovation! When it is ready for us to move back in, it will have significantly improved heating and cooling systems, updated classrooms, and spaces where students can gather to collaborate and study together. This project has been a long time coming, so we are all anxious for the renovations to be completed.

Headshot of Jeremy Youde

Stay safe and healthy out there!

Jeremy Youde

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