As part of last September's Visualing the Liberal Arts Conference, CAMS Professor Laska Jimsen gave a talk titled Ethics of Visual Representation in Liberal Arts Classrooms: A Media Arts Perspective, drawing on her teaching experiences in a diverse range of institutions, including Carleton's Cinema and Media Studies Department. Visitors to the conference from St. Lawrence University subsequently invited Jimsen to both give her talk again and lead an associated 3-hour workshop at their Winter Institute in January, under the title Visual Ethnography: Teaching and Modeling Ethical Behavior.
In Jimsen's own words, "Sending students out of the classroom to collect visual representations brings up complicated ethical questions, whether we ask them to, for example, conduct video interviews on campus or do street photography abroad." As part of her visit to St. Lawrence in January, Jimsen's workshop served to help over 30 faculty at the upstate New York institution grapple with questions of how to prepare students to think and create ethically, to tread the line between ethical responsibility to students' subjects and audiences, and personal artistic or ideological responsibility to themselves.
Jimsen is activating an important and on-going discussion both within the CAMS world and beyond, and St. Lawrence University's invitation is both a testament to the importance of this kind of discourse, and to Jimsen's compelling presentation of it. Even more, her willingness to draw on personal experience as an artist and educator demonstrates the importance of constantly reflecting on our own experiences and practices, both academic and artistic, and embodies concretely the ethical necessity of self-reflection in our studies and our creations.