Amara Geffen, professor of art at Allegheny College, discusses the economic impact of the arts and their capacity to stimulate civic and community engagement in the second installment of Lawrence University’s 2010 Spoerl Lectures in Science and Society series, “The Greening of Higher Education.”

Geffen presents “The Role of the Arts in Sustainable Community Development,” Tuesday, May 18 at 7 p.m. in Thomas Steitz Science Hall Room 102. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Using examples of endeavors in Allegheny’s hometown of Meadville, Pa., and other locales, Geffen will discuss ways arts initiatives have stimulated creative economies and helped create healthy, vibrant communities.

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Amara Geffen

A member of the Allegheny art department since 1982, Geffen specializes in projects that emphasize community collaboration and creative reuse and repurposing of materials and sites to illustrate the role of arts-based and sustainable community and economic development. Projects she has been involved with include an initiative that merges Earth art with best management practices in the environmental mitigation of stormwater runoff as part of an interstate highway interchange.

Geffen also directs Allegheny’s Center for Economic and Environmental Development and serves as the project director of the center’s Arts & Environment Initiative. She has been the recipient of grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation’s Artists and Communities program for collaborations with students and artist colleagues on behalf of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the greater Meadville community.

The environmental lecture series is sponsored by the Spoerl Lectureship in Science in Society. Established in 1999 by Milwaukee-Downer College graduate Barbara Gray Spoerl and her husband, Edward, the lectureship promotes interest and discussion on the role of science and technology in societies worldwide.