As Chair of LIM College’s Arts & Sciences department, Dr. Dan Chaskes seeks to ensure that critical thinking is an essential component of all liberal arts courses and he continually strives to enhance student learning experiences throughout the College.
Tell us about your journey to LIM College.
While I was a grad student, I taught as an adjunct faculty member at the Miami International University of Art & Design. I felt that I could relate to visual students because my research dealt with literature that integrated the visual arts. After I got my Ph.D., the school asked me to get involved in their writing program, so I did that for a year before coming to LIM College to teach writing, literature, and other electives. In 2017, I became Chair of the Arts & Sciences department.
The Fashion Media major is housed within your department. What kinds of students does that major attract?
Our department attracts students with strong writing skills and a story to tell. There has been a democratization of the media landscape where anyone with a blog can get their voice heard. It’s not easy to get an audience for that, but the platforms exist and are multimodal in interactive and innovative ways, so students who are excited by those kinds of changes can thrive as Fashion Media majors.
In your opinion, what makes LIM College special?
LIM College seamlessly combines experiential education and the focus on a career with liberal arts breadth and how to be a thinker. The students are goal-oriented and it is often that motivation that helps them navigate the demands of their degree program, which can include several internships and a full course load.
What role does LIM’s student publication, The Lexington Line, play in the Fashion Media program?
The Lexington Line has grown in the number of issues and the number of staff in just a few short years, and it’s where students can find community. The integration between the magazine and our New Media classes is so innovative. The students are producing coursework that is then featured in the magazine, so that we’ve collapsed the space between coursework and real-life experiences. It’s the perfect distillation of the College’s philosophy in which everything is experiential.
What are some new things happening in the Arts and Sciences department?
In addition to the Fashion Media major, our department offers a variety of liberal arts electives that might not have immediate or obvious connections to fashion, but educate a well-rounded, critical-thinking student body. We’ve added a lot of courses over the past couple of years. Just to name a few…Critical Theories of Fashion and Culture – that is, thinking about fashion as a source of meaning in our culture; Sustainability, Past and Present; and we resurrected Introduction to Queer Studies, which is important given how contested identity remains in our culture. We’re also launching a Liberal Arts minor.
How would you describe yourself as Chair?
Overall, I try to take the work seriously, but I try not to take myself too seriously. Being a goof helps with the very serious work of administering a department. Even in the workplace, I want to experience joy, humor, and companionship with my co-workers.