UNM’s College of Fine Arts exists in a unique crucible of time, place, and culture. We encompass twenty-two federally recognized Pueblos, Tribes, and Nations; the history of the Camino Real; a vibrant contemporary arts scene; and national centers of innovation for science, defense, and energy. In this fertile environment, along with UNM’s designation as a Carnegie Very High Research institution, our high Hispanic enrollment (33%) and one of the highest percentages of Native American students in the nation (12%), we are uniquely situated to explore a new pedagogy for the arts that is innovative, culturally-inclusive, and of the highest artistic merit.

The College of Fine Arts embraces and reflects the multiple contexts in which we live. Over the past two years, we have been engaged in a deep and rigorous discussion about what an arts education really means – what it should include, how it influences our students, how our unique communities influence us, and how we can influence the world into which our students graduate.

The result of this introspection is the creation of the Arts Learning Laboratory (ALL) – a new model for arts education that breaks down traditional academic structures and invites the outside world into the College of Fine Arts to engage in a powerful collaborative learning model and a far-reaching redefinition of arts pedagogy.

This new model will:

  • Research, develop and implement an innovative curriculum incorporating a diverse set of geographic, disciplinary, racial, and cultural perspectives. One of the key objectives of the curriculum will be the incorporation of a range of voices through community- and project-based educational experience.
    • Train Arts graduates to make productive contributions to contemporary economic and cultural life through a combination of rigorous arts skills, sensitivity to diverse perspectives and fluency in interdisciplinary discourse.
    • Institute a curriculum that provides a project-based educational experience that immerses students in discovery learning in varied cultural and economic communities.
    • Increase the cultural diversity of the University of New Mexico through direct engagement with professional artists, scholars and communities from a range backgrounds locally, nationally and internationally.
    • Expand the environmental component of arts pedagogy by collaborating with colleagues in the sciences to place students in direct contact with a wide range of local, national and international ecosystems and to explore the notion of “place” as a concept for exploration and learning.


With the generous support of the Lannan and McCune Foundations, the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research, seven existing collaborative projects shared by CFA faculty and their academic and community partners currently comprise the ALL:

The Arts-in-Medicine Program (AIM) at the UNM Hospitals is collaborating with the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa to create a transdisciplinary, service learning study abroad course.

The International Collaborative Art Program (ICAP) is a residency program that offers students and faculty opportunities to collaborate with international artists and curators on projects focused on technology, ecology and social practice concerns.

Land Arts of the American West provides undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities for place-based study, community interaction, collaboration, communal living, and direct interaction with a diverse set of artists, scholars, and experts in and of the landscape of the west.

The Littleglobe Center For Creative Engagement (CCE) serves as a nexus for best practices that encourage meaningful and lasting community empowerment, capacity building and cross-sector collaboration between facilitators, partners and participants.

Dance Legacy: Southwest Project is a collaboration with the American Dance Legacy Institute at Brown University. It provides dance students with internships on the East Coast and conversely, reveals the unique artistic climate of the Southwest to the outside world.

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The Arts Learning Laboratory