BYU’s Education in Zion Gallery, located in the Joseph F. Smith Building, will open two new exhibits at the end of January: a permanent exhibit titled “Education for Eternity” and a temporary exhibit called “Constructing a Soul.”
The exhibits, which follow the gallery’s trend of highlighting BYU’s Four Aims, will be additional tools that faculty members can use to enhance their teaching.
Heather Seferovich, the gallery’s curator, believes that professors will be able to integrate the exhibits into their classroom experience regardless of their respective disciplines.
“The gallery is based on the Four Aims of a BYU education, which are applicable to every class on this campus, regardless of the discipline,” said Seferovich. “There are going to be different things that will work for different disciplines, it’s just a matter of the professors being creative or talking with me about their learning outcomes so they can craft an assignment that fulfills those outcomes.”
Seferovich said that while it’s easiest for professors to connect their classes to the gallery when there are direct links between the exhibits and the course content — such as a photography professor who can use the gallery’s lenticular photo as an example — that’s certainly not the only way faculty can utilize the gallery.
Seferovich said that many professors use the gallery as either a motivational tool at the beginning of the semester or toward the end of the semester as a way to get students to reflect on how BYU’s Four Aims have been incorporated into the class before they fill out teacher evaluations. Another common way for professors to incorporate the gallery into their classes is to have students take a guided tour or to answer questions for an out-of-class assignment.
According to Seferovich, encouraging students to visit the gallery helps them learn in a way that simply sitting in a classroom cannot.
“Sitting at a desk is fine, but many students are more kinetic learners, especially in creative fields, so walking around and talking and interacting with displays can sometimes help students with the learning process,” said Seferovich. “Students reach these wonderful epiphanies in the gallery. It’s like something clicks in their brains and they get it. These are life-long lessons that they learn, and they learned because they were walking around in the gallery.”
Professors in the College of Fine Arts and Communications have already seen this happen with their own students.
Ed Carter, a professor in the School of Communications, has been taking students to view Education in Zion exhibits for years. For him, the gallery represents a way to help students understand their place in the university by learning about those that came before them and preparing to pass on a legacy to those that come after them.
“One of my BYU communications professors, Dallas Burnett, once told us that we don’t ‘own’ our jobs at BYU, but are merely stewards of them,” said Carter. “I think that applies to students, too. I like students to think about how they can be good stewards over the positions they hold on campus and pass them on in even better shape. It helps to see what others before us did to improve the campus academically as well as ethically, morally and spiritually.”
Carter also said that the gallery can help faculty members meet President Worthen’s Inspired Learning initiative by making them “consider how to make that kind of learning a daily reality in our classes, labs and other activities at BYU.”
Keely Song Glenn, a dance professor, has also used the gallery to incorporate inspired learning into the classroom by taking students to view the gallery’s “Jesus Wept” exhibit where students were able to make connections between the material presented in the exhibit, their own emotions and the emotions they express through dance.
“My role as a mentor and teacher is to help facilitate an environment in which the students feel safe to explore ideas and emotions within movement to make a dance,” said Glenn. “Navigating through the exhibit and the scriptures allows the students to contemplate how their emotions might better serve them towards creativity and compassion rather than despair and futility.”
For professors who haven’t used Education in Zion exhibits in their classes before, the gallery’s opening event will be a great opportunity to learn more about what the gallery offers.
The gallery will be hosting an opening event from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday Jan. 30. Col. Gail “Hal” Halvorsen, more commonly known as the “Candy Bomber,” will greet people and pass out candy during the event. At 4, 5 and 6 p.m. the gallery will also host a performance program featuring Janice Kapp Perry, BYU folk dancers, an alumni speaker and refreshments.