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FREE’s Expressive Week

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Students at FREE Activity in Student Center Image

A large group activity at the past FREE event, "Freedom of Expression," in the V. James Eardley Student Center.

There are many ways for expressing views about challenging issues—speaking, painting, singing, writing or filming—and encouraging students to put all of these expressive forms together for an event may be a very powerful thing indeed.

At Truckee Meadows Community College, FREE “Water” will be a week-long event this spring, for students to express their thoughts, words and art about water and sustainability in the world around them.

FREE is an acronym for the Faculty for Radical Education and Enlightenment, a group of professors who want to shake things up, not simply stir gently in the routine manner. Annually or semi-annually, this interdisciplinary learning community picks a unique central theme. Instructors assign their classes projects related to this theme. Then, they bring together their students to explore the controversial topic, expressing opinions and sharing findings.

FREE “Water”

  • March 28: “Watersheds and Sustainability” reception, 5-6 p.m. in the TMCC Main Art Gallery, V. James Eardley Student Center (RSVPs are requested to Dr. Hammett)
  • March 28: “Watersheds and Sustainability: Finding a Balance” Symposium featuring guest speakers, 6:15-8:15 p.m., Sierra Building, room 108
  • March 29: “Before the Flood” film and discussion, 6-8 p.m., Sierra Building, room 108
  • March 30: “FREE Student Multi-Subject Collaborative,” 9:30-10:45 a.m., Student Center

Students, faculty and staff are invited to any or all parts of the event. The reception and Symposium on Tuesday, March 28 are free and open to the public.

The Free “Water” Symposium will feature guest speakers who will talk about the challenges of protecting our environment and water supply, while providing other essential services to communities.

Speakers for the Symposium include the following experts in water, irrigation and sustainability:

  • Naomi Duerr, Reno City Councilwoman, Ward 2, and former Executive Director of the Truckee River Flood Management Project
  • Jennifer Eisele, Chairperson of the Western Shoshone Committee, Duck Valley Indian Reservation, also involved in Tribal programs related to irrigation and land
  • Cathy Fitzgerald, Senior Civil Engineer, PlaceWorks, Inc., former Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia; hydrology, sanitation and water hygiene
  • Zeb Hogan, PhD, Research Biologist, University of Nevada, Reno, and United Nations Councilor for Fish, star of National Geographic’s “Monster Fish”

The TMCC Main Art Gallery is currently featuring “Watershed Project”, an interdisciplinary look at how water and land use is maintained, recorded and viewed. Outside the Main Gallery, students from TMCC classes have contributed research visuals that create a watershed installation.

Who Are the FREE Faculty 2017?

Participating in this spring’s event are the following TMCC professors:

  • Candace Garlock, TMCC Galleries Curator and Art Instructor
  • Julia Hammett, Anthropology Professor and Discipline Coordinator
  • Nancy O’Neal, Marketing Professor
  • Micaela Rubalcava, Education Professor
  • Corina Weidinger, Visual Arts Instructor
  • Megan Berner, Art Instructor
  • Tanja Hayes, Economics Instructor
  • Joylin Namie, Anthropology Instructor
  • Marynia Giren-Navarro, Sociology Instructor
  • Aimee Kelly, Assistant Gallery Curator
  • Erin Shearin, Art Instructor
  • Gail Ferrell, Math Professor
  • Blisin Hestiyas, Math Professor
  • Sameer Bhattarai, Environmental Science Professor

A Brief History of FREE

FREE began as an innovative idea of Micaela Rubalcava after she read a book as part of a book club she started. The idea-generating book was Henry A. Giroux's "Public Spaces, Private Lives: Beyond the Culture of Cynicism." The first FREE event took place in 2003.

“I was noticing that students often wouldn't come to forums and events that the college would often pay for,” she said. “So I thought that we could use our existing teaching schedules to bring our students—in field-trip fashion—to interdisciplinary forums during scheduled class time so that we could get a critical mass of participating students for ‘free.’”

A group of faculty formed small semester-long learning communities. They coordinated their schedules.
“We picked a ‘great idea’ theme that integrated our collective syllabi, and brought our classes together, kind of like a flash mob,” Rubalcava said. “Our first FREE event was in the upstairs of the library and we focused on ‘nature versus nurture,’ and we have also done ‘fear,’ ‘censorship,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘vision,’ and ‘ways of knowing,’ to give a few examples.”

FREE events have taken place almost every year, sometimes twice a year, and the event continues to be well-supported and well-attended.

Sponsors for the Symposium

The FREE faculty members also extend their appreciation to departmental and corporate sponsors of the Symposium:

  • Citizens Climate Lobby, Reno Chapter
  • Sparks Museum & Cultural Center
  • TMCC Art Galleries
  • TMCC Diversity, Equity and Sustainability Office
  • TMCC Innovation Grant
  • TMCC Theater

For more information about FREE “Water,” please email or call Nancy O’Neal at 775-636-3760.