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Published April 24, 2019
Concertos about microbes, and incorporating philosophy into everyday living? Just the tip of what the University of Wyoming Department of Music’s Anne Guzzo and the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies’ Rob Colter will be doing during their yearlong research as Seibold Professorship recipients.
The award is given annually to UW College of Arts and Sciences faculty members who are heavily focused on teaching. It allows them a year’s leave, during which they are able to pursue in-depth projects and research opportunities that will enrich their teaching as well as advance their professional lives.
“I think it’s a mark of how seriously the College of Arts and Sciences takes teaching,” Colter says. “One of the things I’ve always liked about the University of Wyoming, as a faculty member, is that it’s a place that takes teaching seriously.”
Guzzo has two areas of research she plans to explore. One is researching microbes called extremophiles that live in harsh conditions such as acid, extremely salty water, thermal heat vents and the Arctic. She plans to start her investigation in Yellowstone National Park and then hopes to travel to France to learn more from a group of scientists researching microbes there, with the intention of composing music inspired by what she learns.
“The creative research will be to look at some of the answers I get from these scientists or at the processes and say, ‘Can I turn this in a musical process? Or, if not a musical process, can I at least sort of make a narrative journey of the process?’” Guzzo says.
Some of the music Guzzo hopes to create, based on her extremophile research, will go to specific ensembles, such as the Miller-Porfiris Duo, a viola-violin duo formed by faculty members at the Hart School of Music, and AdZel, a renowned clarinet duo.
Guzzo’s second goal for her Seibold year is to compile information about entertainment laws and the legal rights to original music in order to create a comprehensive idea of how the classical musician can be entrepreneurial and protect his or her creative works. Guzzo was inspired to pursue this after frequently being asked by students about legal rights to arranging and creating music.
“There is a ton of this for pop music, but what does it mean for our world?” Guzzo says. She plans to consult entertainment lawyers and examine music business texts, creating a more traditional teaching module.
Both projects will benefit Guzzo’s teaching and the music department, as she will be able to instruct students, and even faculty as well, in entertainment and music protection laws -- allowing them to be entrepreneurial as they create their own music. Plus, she hopes to foster more collaborative work between her students and the sciences.
Colter has a three-pronged plan for his Seibold year. He is collaborating with Joseph Ulatowski, a professor at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, in writing a book on philosophical pedagogy. The book focuses on the theory and practice of teaching, and it combines ideas from Socrates with contemporary learning theory.
Second, Colter will expand his teaching of philosophy in Wyoming prisons with the Wyoming Pathways from Prison program. He would like to expand the number of topics he can teach, as well as increase the number of facilities where he is able to teach.
“I’ve taught classes in three of the five facilities in Wyoming so far,” Colter says. “I’d like to get to the other two, and I’d like to develop another course for that.”
In addition to the other two projects, Colter plans to deepen his understanding of, and become more visible in, the modern Stoicism movement. This will involve traveling to Rome to work with Massimo Pigliucci, a prominent proponent of modern Stoicism. Colter also has been invited to be part of the Mellon Foundation’s Philosophy as a Way of Life program, which aims to develop teaching of various schools of philosophy that encourage living philosophically and are practical more than theoretical.
Colter believes all three of his projects will work together in enriching and broadening his courses. He hopes they also will enhance philosophy teaching in his department and even across the state.
“Some of the opportunities that I’m going to be able to pursue in this Seibold year are going to be wonderful for increasing my depth of knowledge and understanding, and help me as a teacher,” Colter says. “But I also think it’s going to help me make connections between the University of Wyoming and other institutions, both nationally and internationally, which I think can only benefit all of us.”
Both Guzzo and Colter will return to teaching in fall 2020.