The Collaboratory at Ringling College of Art and Design
in Sarasota, Florida, is a learning environment where businesses, nonprofits, governments, and other entities work with Ringling College students across disciplines. Students are guided by faculty to plan, propose, and design creative solutions for a specific problem or challenge. This environment enhances student learning by providing a variety of real-world scenarios beyond what is possible from the traditional studio experience. Through the Collaboratory, students put their skills to work in a professional setting by providing businesses and brands with creative, innovative, and relevant solutions.
Ringling College of Art and Design’s Collaboratory Commitment guarantees that every enrolled student will have the opportunity to participate in a professional work experience with real clients, real deliverables, and real deadlines before they graduate. These experiences prepare students for their careers, heighten the college's engagement with the professional world, and build a community of expertise to meet the demands of a constantly shifting global job market. The Patterson Foundation is supporting strengthening our community’s creative workforce of tomorrow through this approach to higher education.
Why did The Patterson Foundation support this initiative?
Through support from The Patterson Foundation, Ringling College of Art and Design is strengthening the student experience by connecting them with organizations that can benefit from creative problem solving and strategies. Experiential learning elevates students beyond classroom theory to dynamic participation in real-world work. These experiences are encouraging brighter futures for students, organizations, and our community.
What has been the Collaboratory’s impact?
The Collaboratory at Ringling College of Art and Design began operations in the summer of 2013. A few pilot projects were undertaken in the first year — while the organization was being established, staff and initial faculty supporters recruited, and clients informed about what was possible. Since then, the Collaboratory began offering services to clients and bringing students into the work, gradually developing the complex details of contract requirements for clients, how students would be compensated, what work students could display in their portfolios, etc.
In fall 2015, Ringling College President Larry Thompson made the Collaboratory Commitment to all incoming students: Every student of Ringling College will have the opportunity to participate in real-world, real-time client work through the Collaboratory during their four years in college.
How does the Collaboratory affect the Ringling College of Art and Design curriculum?
From the outset, the vision was that the Collaboratory would become an integral part of the Ringling College student experience. Since 2015, with the delivery of the Collaboratory Commitment, all Ringling College students have an opportunity to participate before they graduate. With the incorporation of Collaboratory elective classes in the Business of Art and Design program and the inclusion of Collaboratory projects into several other courses across departments at Ringling College, the process of integration is well underway.
The college further demonstrated its commitment to making the Collaboratory offerings a college-wide learning experience embedded throughout the curriculum by weaving the Collaboratory experience into its Quality Enhancement Plan submitted to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for accreditation evaluation. In addition, the Collaboratory, recognizing that its approach to experiential learning is challenging to some faculty more accustomed to the role of teacher/lecturer than guide/partner, has initiated training for interested faculty in how to conduct experiential learning.
How have clients responded to the Collaboratory process?
How have students responded to the experience?
Overall, the students have been extremely positive about their Collaboratory experiences and eager to sign on for more. Some of the most frequent comments point to the significance of delving into the details of a real-world problem and having to understand the clients as well as the situation; discovering the benefits of working with students from different majors on the same projects, where many talents must be brought together; and experiencing the satisfaction of seeing their work come to life in the real world.
Who can I contact about the Collaboratory at Ringling College of Art and Design initiative?
For more information about this past initiative, contact initiative consultant Michael Corley: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the Collaboratory as clients share their experiences working with Ringling students