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Oct. 18, 2013/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



 Cultural anthropologist and author Mimi Ito is keynote speaker for liberal arts educators conference

WINSTON-SALEM – Cultural anthropologist and author Mimi Ito is the keynote speaker for Creative Cartographies: Paths for the Liberal Arts in a Changing Media Landscape, the 10th biennial conference of the Consortium for the Liberal Education of Artists (CLEA), hosted by the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) Division of Liberal Arts on Oct. 23-26.

Ito will speak and answer questions from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 24 in Eisenberg Social Hall, Hanes Student Commons, on the UNCSA campus at 1533 South Main St. in Winston-Salem. Seating is limited. For details on attending the presentation, please contact wilcoxd@uncsa.edu.

Mimi Ito
Photo Courtesy University of California

An international expert on how people use mobile technologies and new digital media in their everyday lives, Ito co-led the Digital Youth Project, a MacArthur Foundation-funded landmark study of how youth use new media and how digital technologies are changing the way young people learn, play, socialize and participate in civic life. She co-authored the book based on the study, “Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media.”

Her most recent work, “Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design,” was released this year. Ito is research director of the Digital Media and Learning Hub at the University of California at Irvine, and professor in residence at University of California Humanities Research Institute.

Dean Wilcox, Dean of the Division of Liberal Arts at UNCSA, says Ito’s expertise will help educators focus on engaging college-age students. “The Digital Youth Project was a three-year effort, concluding in 2009,” he said. “Dr. Ito and her colleagues studied 800 young people who are now reaching college age. Her insights offer an ideal focus on the next steps for higher education.”

CLEA was founded in 1994 by Bill Tribby, then Dean of General Studies (now the Division of Liberal Arts) at UNCSA, who believed the challenges and opportunities he faced providing a liberal arts education to aspiring artists were not unique to the School of the Arts, and that much could be gained from a national dialogue.

Wilcox said the challenges Tribby identified 20 years ago still prevail, with technology and new media added to the mix. “Unlike liberal arts institutions where a student may not declare a major until after the first year or so, our students enter college knowing exactly what they want to do,” he said. “In some cases they are so focused on their arts training that getting them to focus on their liberal arts (general education) courses is a challenge.

“Part of our job is engaging the students, but also finding ways to make connections to their arts discipline,” he continued. “New media and technology provide opportunities for us to do that.”

CLEA’s philosophy statement reads, “The role of the artist in society is as a poet, philosopher, and alchemist who can transform an audience. But in order to work that miracle, the artist must learn to see, to think, to understand in new ways. The liberal arts provide that source – a space in which to reflect, to pull away, to re-engage. Without it, we retreat into our studios and forget to come out. We are no longer artists.”

In addition to UNCSA, CLEA participants include Berklee College of Music (Boston), Columbia College (Chicago), Cornish College of the Arts (Seattle), Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.), McNally Smith College of Music (St. Paul, Minn.), New England Conservatory (Boston), The Peabody Conservatory (Baltimore), and the University of the Arts (Philadelphia).

The conference at UNCSA is supported by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, which provided seed money for the founding of the consortium. Kenan Executive Director Corey Madden said the institute welcomes CLEA “home” to Winston-Salem.

“The Kenan Institute is proud to partner with CLEA and the Division of Liberal Arts at UNCSA. We share a mission to support the development of the ‘whole’ artist,” she said.

About Mizuko “Mimi” Ito

Mizuko “Mimi” Ito is a cultural anthropologist of technology use, examining children and youth’s changing relationships to media and communications. Her work on educational software appears in “Engineering Play: A Cultural History of Children's Software.” In Japan, her research has focused on mobile and portable technologies, and she co-edited a book on that topic with Daisuke Okabe and Misa Matsuda, “Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life.”  She has led a three-year collaborative ethnographic study, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, examining youth new media practices in the US, and focusing on gaming, digital media production, and Internet use.  

Her book on anime fandom, “Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World,” was released in 2012 from Yale University Press. The Connected Learning report that was released by her team in January 2013 is available online: http://dmlhub.net/publications/connected-learning-agenda-research-and-design

Her web site is at http://www.itofisher.com/mito.


As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.