The student handbook for the ETC students who entered in the program in August of 2021.
The ETC strives to create a community of inclusive diversity and belonging within the center and program. We believe faculty, staff, students and guests will feel more welcome at the ETC by giving attention to this topic and taking action as needed. This is particularly true as we’re working to orchestrate support for teams and individuals so that they feel a part of the ETC and can collaborate constructively. We believe this is an ethical imperative for the ETC, and our research and work in Creative Chaos also shows that inclusion leads to innovation, and we want to do the best work we can do through creative collaboration together.
Saying that we value inclusive diversity is easy, but following through on this is important, so that we recognize the intersectionality of people and their identities, leading to awareness and understanding of everyone at the ETC. Actions and words are how we shape our culture, one in which a community grows together. We work to help people feel they are supported by the ETC. We believe this enables us to better go through the creative process together, which translates into being able to design and develop a greater variety of innovative products. Noting that this is an ongoing process is important so that we can discuss it together and address it as needed. This work is not only a process, but also progress, in that we may have come a long way, but we still have a way to go. It’s a challenge we face together.
CMU and the ETC are taking concrete actions to better value and support diversity, equity and inclusion. CMU has partnered with the University of Pittsburgh on the Collaboratory Against Hate to combat extremist hate, and CMU has a set of commitments and a dedicated Vice Provost. CMU’s Eberly Center helps with better teaching and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion helps support students across the campus. And the ETC continues to actively recruit and support under-represented and under-served student populations. We offer merit-based scholarships and support GEM fellowships. We also have the recently established ETC Fellowship Fund initially funded by Schell Games to help provide financial support for students.
We often describe improvisational acting, or improv, taught by ETC Teaching Professor Brenda Bakker Harger, as the special sauce in our student’s graduate studies. We believe improv is one of the most important ingredients that help create an cooperative environment because the “yes, and” nature of supportive sharing during improv encourages participants to play well together. “Yes, and” means that you accept the ideas your fellow participants offer and expand on them, adding new ideas that relate to the experience you’re creating together. Improv helps participants become more comfortable brainstorming new ideas together, as they work to shape experiences, creating something novel from nothing but their own collaborative creativity.
To encourage students to consider creative causes and positive social impact opportunities, the ETC has a Creative Good Fund which enables students to gain experience with such real-world non-profit entities as museums, libraries, zoos, arts and human service organizations. Similarly, we strive to have semester-long projects with a transformational focus. We are also the home of Randy Pausch’s Alice Project that helps teach students, from middle school to universities, how to program through storytelling and games, and research has shown that it increases retention of at-risk students in introductory computer science courses. Through the fund, Alice and ETC projects, our students are challenged to create work that has a positive impact in the world.