Topics: College of Fine Arts, Immersive Learning, Scholarships

April 22, 2014

Colin Hart is a 2014 Udall Scholar
Colin Hart

Ball State junior Colin Hart is the university's first theater major to be selected as a Udall Scholar.

Just 50 students nationwide win the scholarship, which recognizes undergraduates committed to environmental careers and/or Native American tribal issues. Hart's win seems out of the typical fields of consideration for the prize — until he speaks about what most fuels his creative passion.

"I want to explore sustainability in the arts — both as a topic and as a practice," said Hart, a Bloomington native. "It's a unique area of interest, but one that's important because I believe art plays a role in any major social change, including protecting and healing the environment."

In the past three years, Ball State has afforded Hart with extraordinary opportunities to combine his sensitivities for the environment with his artistic talents. Last fall, he worked on "Down to Earth," a Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry documentary about sustainable farming, and in 2012, he was involved with the eco-friendly play "Still Life With Iris," for which he created stage props from objects found in local Dumpsters. A student of the Honors College, Hart also is involved with Ball State's Council on the Environment, the university's advisory group for green initiatives.

"Theater and sustainability are two disciplines that don't often intersect in a deep way," said Tyler Smith, assistant professor of theater and one of Hart's mentors. "Plays about the environment exist. But actual engagement and action between the two worlds can be rare, and I think that is a huge point of distinction for Colin's approach."

Hart will receive a $5,000 scholarship and attend a weeklong retreat this summer in Tucson, Ariz., to network with other 2014 Udall Scholars. "I'm looking forward to bringing an artistic voice to the ecological discussions I know will take place there," he said. He is the eighth Ball State student to win a Udall since 2005.