As a part of our ongoing “Professor Profiles” blog series, students have had the opportunity to hear directly from two of CCI’s esteemed faculty members about their academic backgrounds, projects, shared interests, and the courses they teach within the minor. Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Lisa Maracine to speak with her about her background prior to teaching at Chapman, her academic concentration within minor, and her recommendations to students who are unsure of where their journeys lie beyond college. We invite you to continue reading to learn more about Dr. Maracine and gain some insight about the different paths you can take within the creative and cultural industries.
## Start of Interview with Dr. Lisa Maracine
PC: Tell me about yourself and your journey toward teaching at Chapman?
LM: I love the interdisciplinary nature of creative and cultural industries that combine so many areas of my own interest and experience. If something like CCI had existed while I was in college I would have loved to study that, but instead I majored in political science with an international focus at Westmont College. I always loved the diplomacy aspect of politics but I didn’t necessarily want to go the traditional route and work in the State Department because I was primarily interested in the cultural side of diplomacy bringing people together. After graduation I had the opportunity to move to Hawaii for a few months to work with a non-profit organization that I previously volunteered with, not connected to my area of study. I ended up staying 3 years and absolutely loved it. These years really helped lay the foundation for my future even though at the time I wouldn’t have described them as fitting into my long term career goals.
After 3 years, I came back to LA and began pursuing my masters in Public Diplomacy under the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Given that the program was under the school of communication, it had a non-traditional take on the subject matter and our professors really allowed us to be super creative with how we shaped the two-year program; similar to how CCI allows students to cater the minor to their interests. For my thesis I ended up researching and writing about fashion diplomacy in which I analyzed the way that fashion as an industry can empower women as producers and consumers, and from a leadership standpoint, how women in leadership and authority use fashion as a means of communication. My research led me to a ton of different social entrepreneurship companies, and one in particular that I fell in love with was called 31 Bits based in Uganda. This organization works with women in Uganda to empower and train them to become their own entrepreneurs through the making of traditional African jewelry.
While working at 31 Bits; which I ended up working for for six years, I decided to get my PhD because I loved school so much and knew I wanted to eventually teach college students. I found a really practical program at Pepperdine which, similar to my master's program, really allowed me to shape my education the way that I wanted. The program itself was called The Doctor of Philosophy in Global Leadership and Change and a lot of the topics that I now cover in CCI 303: Cultural Organization Management stem from what I learned in the program. Finally, as I was finishing up my last year in my PhD and working on my dissertation; right before Covid in March 2020, Patrick invited me to speak to his students about 31 Bits and soon after he approached me with the opportunity to teach as an adjunct professor in the minor for which I have now had the privilege of teaching students for the past two years.
PC: What classes do you teach in the Fall and Spring?
LM: My classes are considered the core classes within the minor so they’re not super specialized which I enjoy because it allows me to cover a variety of topics within CCI. For both classes I try to bring in guest speakers who actually work in different creative and cultural industries to expand upon the broad opportunities available in the field.
In the fall I teach [a section of] CCI 301: Studies in Cultural Institutions with an emphasis on cultural diplomacy where I get to connect more of my interest and expertise in diplomacy with CCI. Every year I survey my students to see where their interests lie within the minor and try my best to cater to at least ONE of everyone's interests, whether that be focusing on publishing one week, or fashion the next. For the first few weeks of class I go over real world theories using industries that students are passionate about (based on the survey), and in the weeks following I bring in a few guest speakers to help students think about how they can apply the creative problem solving skills they’ve learned in class to respond to global problem such as social justice issues. I also want them to realize that a lot of times people are meeting global needs simply by being creative and exercising their creative problem solving skills.
As for the course in the Spring, I teach what is known as CCI 303: Cultural Organization Management, where I give students the tools to approach the creative and cultural industries from a managerial perspective. This class is set up to prepare students for life after graduation giving them practical assignments to become leaders and apply their areas of focus within CCI.
PC: What is your specific focus within the CCI minor?
LM: My courses have a specific focus on cultural diplomacy and organizational
management. My ongoing area of research is on the intersection between fashion, culture, innovation, policy, economic development, sustainability, social entrepreneurship, and women's empowerment.
PC: What is something you hope your students take away from your courses?
LM: At the end of the day I hope my students leave with a better sense of personal understanding. It can be so overwhelming as a student to know what you want to do, so being able to explore different areas of interest, especially in college is fundamental when it comes to figuring out what you like and what you don’t. There’s so much pressure from people asking you what you want to be– especially when you’re about to graduate but just remember that you don’t have to know, be open to everything and from there you’ll figure out what the best fit is. I’ve personally worked in a range of different industries including in the nonprofit, education, fashion, business, public relations, government, broadcasting, and consulting sectors.
One of the things I always tell my students at the end of the semester is that the world is constantly changing, therefore I really believe that the things that most of them will end up doing and the jobs they will have don’t even exist yet. This can be overwhelming in the best sense to think about, yet also really exciting because in many ways that means you get to design your own job and be at the forefront of your own future.
PC: What has been your favorite part about the program and teaching at Chapman so far?
LM: I love that I can connect with students on an individual level and be a constant resource for them to ask questions, find mentorship, and learn from.
There are so many students that are choosing the minor and I think that it’s because the things that they’re interested in, especially in high school and college, aren't always covered in traditional subject courses. By covering a broad range of ideas and topics with the common bond of creativity, the minor really allows students to explore their personal interests and passions in an academic setting.
PC: What are some projects, events, or ideas you would like to bring to the program?
I think it’s exciting because now we can do more events. For a while what we could do was very limited because of the pandemic but I have so many ideas I want to implement in the coming semesters. I’m personally really interested in sustainability, especially within fashion and the arts, and there’s a lot of organizations based locally like 31 Bits and a few others that have expressed their desire to connect with students. So I feel like creating an opportunity to hear from these organizations or pop-up shops of some sort would be an awesome opportunity for students to learn more about and buy sustainable products from local social enterprises who want to provide internships and mentorship opportunities to students.
## End of Interview with Dr. Lisa Maracine
Thank you, Dr. Lisa Maracine
Dr. Maracine brings both practical and personal knowledge to how diplomacy, culture, and the creative and cultural industries intersect. At the heart of her teaching is a drive to help students be engaged and curious about the world around them. In her classes she hopes to create a space where students can constantly learn about themselves through the help of industry professionals, their classmates, and herself. If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Maracine’s classes, please visit the course catalog for more information.