Courses Take Exciting and Unexpected Shapes Thanks to the Hive

the HIVE logo with five alternating paint strokes in yellow and orange in the approximate shape of a beehive

Claremont, Calif. (May 23, 2023)—Have you ever thought about intertwining art and math by shaping clay? Or connecting historic surf craft to environmentalism? How about wildcrafting and the ethics of foraging? Through these explorations and more, Pitzer students, faculty, and staff are reimagining learning with support from the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (the Hive).

The Hive’s course development, course activity, and student creativity grants have enabled creative collaboration for Pitzer and Claremont Colleges community members.

Interdisciplinary innovation in the classroom

Dominic Feder Di Toro ’26 at Professor Kizer’s fall 2022 book festival

Professor Jessica Kizer will teach Intro to Sociology in fall 2023 with help from the Hive’s course activity grant. In the class, students tutor elementary schoolchildren in the Pomona Unified School District. They also create a children’s book using their sociological imagination and research on a social issue. The class concludes with a book festival and author reading of their books for the children they have been tutoring.

Course development and activity grants like Kizer’s support interdisciplinary and intercollegiate 7C full-time faculty members.

Another example is the work of Professor of Art Tim Berg and Assistant Professor of Mathematics Bahar Acu, who will introduce the course Limitless Boundaries: The Art and Math of Surfaces in fall 2023. Topology is the study of the properties of shapes that do not fundamentally change when they are bent and/or stretched without poking holes or ripping them apart. This hands-on course explores topological questions using clay and other materials to better understand shapes and surfaces, and it challenges students to think in multiple dimensions.

Two hands coated with clay take two ends of a thin roll of clay in the shape of a circle to connect the ends.

This fall, the course Building a Community of Practice will combine Asian American studies, cultural/urban studies, organizational studies, and writing. The class seeks to answer: “What does it look like to center healing and accountability in our interpersonal and institutional relationships?” CASA Pitzer Director Tessa Hicks Peterson, Community Engagement Center Managing Director Tricia Morgan, and Writing Center Interim Director Stephanie Liu-Rojas are partnering with Professor Barbara Junisbai and Professor Kathy Yep to develop collective healing and accountability in the face of violence and oppression.

Hicks Peterson is also partnering with visiting Pitzer faculty Kimberly Miranda and George Ygarza and Scripps, Pomona, and Harvey Mudd professors for the course Co-Creating Care-First and Radical Pedagogies. This fall 2023 course is driven by faculty and students in the 5C Transformative and Restorative Justice Collective. The class delves into radical pedagogies while developing a toolkit of Care-First teaching practices that center on collective access, equity, accountability over punishment, grassroots knowledge/wisdom, and the wholeness of students and professors as people.

Students putting creativity into action

In addition to the faculty-focused grants, the Hive’s student creativity grants support projects by evoking and enabling creative growth within and between 5C students.

Natasha Gardiner-Feldman ’23 and Timi Balogun CMC’24 received the Hive’s student creativity grant to organize the third annual PZ Threads 5C Fashion Show. Hosted by the Claremont Colleges sustainable fashion magazine known as PZ Threads, the show presented the sustainable clothing collections of 10 Claremont Colleges student designers.

Ellie Griffin ’23, Paris Masiel CMC’23, and Jason Nguyen PO’24 received the grant to produce “Corners,” a short narrative film that is a poignant, dialogue-driven story focused on characters who are faced with the cruel nature of fate and how they react to it in their own distinct ways.

Ryan Lillestrand ’23 received the grant to examine surfing and environmentalism through the project “Shaping Alaia: Beauty and Simplicity in the Waves.” From imperialism to colonialism, from coastal land rights disputes to the current environmental crisis, politics has interwoven into surfing’s global story. Historic surf craft is explored by shaping two Alaia boards, one to the specifications of the original Hawaiian boards, and one that reflects the resurgence of Alaias in the past 20 years.

A closeup of two hands as someone sketches a pencil drawing of a spindly green leaf in a spiral sketchbook.

The project “Wildcrafting, Art with Nature, and the Ethics of Foraging” by Tommy Shenoi ’24 involves the exploration, craftsmanship, and development of wildcrafting art pieces through several art modalities (cyanotypes, suminagashi, native plant and mushroom dyes). Shenoi builds a perspective (influenced by different locations) on whether and when it is appropriate to forage and wildcraft and identifies ethical ways to wildcraft (including reciprocity and utilizing invasive species versus natives).

You can learn more about the Hive’s course grant recipients and student creativity grant recipients.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

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