Earlier this month, a group of students in the Honors Program, including seniors Claire Dugan, Katie Murdock, Hope Siler and Lauren Weber, hosted an art crawl fundraiser called “Force of Nature” to benefit the Tennessee Environmental Council’s Radioactive Waste Education Program. The group researched this program as part of their senior thesis project, which culminated in this event.
Belmont’s Honors Program required students to choose one of four tracks, which begins in their second semester of their sophomore year, in addition to 29 hours of Honors Core Classes. The Force of Nature group chose the “Project LEAD” track, a program that examines leadership styles and studies the qualities of effective leadership. While the three other tracks require a senior thesis as a capstone project, Project LEAD requires a group of students to partner with a community organization to aid the organization in its mission.
The group chose the Tennessee Environmental Council (TEC) as their community partner, as group member Siler is passionate about the bridge between art and activism and felt that they could become active in the fight against nuclear waste in Tennessee through art. From there, they connected with their featured artist, Jason Hargrove, who already had a number of pieces that matched the theme of the project.
The group was able to strategically involve their project with the Wedgewood-Houston art crawl to make their event successful. According to Dugan, one of the most successful parts of the event was the letter-writing station, set up for people to express their concerns to their legislative representatives. She wrote, the event attendees were “particularly interested in doing this after speaking with the members of the TEC that were present and learning about the severity of the issue.”
Dugan also said that the honors program itself was a valuable resource in managing a project of this magnitude. She wrote, “the time commitment that this program requires in itself is something that I personally was not prepared for, but it taught me how to manage my time effectively under great amounts of stress. Honors also taught me how to communicate directly with diverse group of people that may have different interests in mind.”