Syracuse University

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New interdisciplinary COLAB initiative launches at The Warehouse

October 13, 2008

Erica Blust
(315) 443-5891

Erica Blust

To further its vision of Scholarship in Action, Syracuse University has launched COLAB, a new interdisciplinary initiative that encourages students and faculty to use their diverse skills and perspectives to solve complex, real-world problems creatively and collaboratively. Based in SU's College of Visual and Performing Arts and headquartered on the fourth floor of The Warehouse at 350 W. Fayette St., COLAB offers courses, programs and events in a nontraditional atmosphere that fosters innovation and imagination.

"COLAB is a response to industry demands for graduates who can work effectively on diverse, collaborative teams," says Michael McAllister, director of design and innovation. "Given the array of top-caliber schools and colleges at SU, we are beautifully poised to offer interdisciplinary education to support this need. Intersecting divergent viewpoints in a collaborative environment often leads to fresh and unexpected solutions."

"This idea of cross-disciplinary collaboration is not new to academia," says Chris McCray, COLAB's "mad scientist," who has designed its branding concepts, marketing strategies and website. "Many universities are involved in massaging existing programs or creating new entities, such as what we are doing with COLAB. What makes COLAB so exciting is the diverse selection of world-renowned schools and colleges here at SU. We have the opportunity to develop a think tank of truly diverse people."

Current COLAB projects include "Wearable Technologies," a course that explores wearing computer chips on the body to provide new functionality or simply new aesthetics. Using the format of a charrette -- a short but intensive design project -- COLAB is also working with the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce to develop ideas to build a new identity for the city's downtown area that stimulates retail and restaurant development.

COLAB is also creating a graduate program in interdisciplinary strategies and plans to host three additional charrettes in the Spring 2009 semester that address the themes of art, technology and not-for-profit work, respectively. It will also offer courses on interactive installations and design thinking. Partnerships with educational, governmental and commercial organizations and institutions will also be nurtured.

COLAB will host an informal open house on Thursday, Oct. 16, from 5-8 p.m. at its headquarters to allow the public to view student work and meet faculty. An official, public launch celebration will be held Thursday, Nov. 20, from 5-8 p.m. Both events are held in conjunction with Th3, Syracuse's city-wide art open.

For more information about COLAB, contact McCray at

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