UCC Jennings Gallery and College of Medicine and Health has partnered with US-based non-profit organization Visual Thinking Strategies ( www.vtshome.org ) to deliver ‘looking at art’ classes to 500 students across the five schools of Medicine and Health from September 2012.
Two of VTS top facilitators, Yoon Kang O Higgins- (National Program Director) and Karin De Santis (Aesthetic Development Director) visited Cork in May to host a public seminar and a pioneering training program for the college staff who will facilitate these student classes.
Visual Thinking Strategies is an educational curriculum and teaching method that uses art to enable intrinsic learning and to help participants develop aesthetic and language literacy, critical thinking and observation skills, and evidence-based reasoning. It is one of the most significant art education programs in North America with a national presence and is now becoming sought after internationally in recognition of the enormous potential of these programs in terms of student learning.
While there is a global groundswell of interest in the value of integrating the arts into education, UCC is the first third level institution to engage a large scale student body with the VTS methodology and is the first Irish university to integrate these programs into the mainstream curriculum allowing interdisciplinary teaching for the first time.
Yoon Kang-O’Higgins joined the VTS team in 1997 as a college intern in New York City and now oversees VTS programs across the US, serving as it’s National Program Director. Before taking on a national role for VTS, Yoon led and supported long term VTS school and museum partnerships in the Pacific Northwest. She has led workshops and presentations for organizations across the US and abroad including the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Washington, University of Oregon, and Microsoft. Yoon studied Art History at Barnard College, NYC and University College London and Studio Art at the Leith School of Art in Edinburgh, Scotland. Along with her involvement with VTS, Yoon has taught studio art to NYC public school students and has worked as an administrator at various organizations including Parsons School of Design and the Tony Smith Estate.
Karin DeSantis is the Aesthetic Development Director for Visual Thinking Strategies and owner of Rosebriar Consulting. She began her studies at the University of Basel, Switzerland, after receiving her baccalaureate in Modern Languages. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Museum Education from Massachusetts College of Art and her Master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard Graduate School of Education. DeSantis has been working with Dr. Abigail Housen, co-founder of Visual Understanding in Education, since 1988. Their research has examined the growth of aesthetic thinking and the impact of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) on aesthetic and critical thinking skills. They have also examined the impact of VTS on teacher practice. In addition to her work as a researcher, DeSantis has worked as teacher and administrator in schools, museums, art centers and universities. She has taught studio art to a wide range of ages, has worked with developmentally-delayed children and adolescents and has taken classes and workshops on teaching, program and curriculum development, and research methods.