Art Education Professor Laura Hetrick named a 2023-2024 OpEd/Public Voices Fellow

August 23, 2023

The School of Art + Design and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology are pleased to announce that Associate Professor of Art Education and Beckman member Laura J Hetrick has been named a 2023-2024 OpEd/Public Voices Fellow.  One of only 20 scholars selected from across the University of Illinois system to participate in this prestigious fellowship, Professor Hetrick will join her cohort of Public Voices Fellows in crafting her research and expertise in ways that can contribute to public conversations of our age. The Public Voices Fellowship is a national program initiated with scholars from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and has since grown to include the nation’s top universities.  The Public Voice Fellowship aims to increase the public impact and presence of our nation’s top underrepresented thinkers.  This one-year Fellowship includes interactive seminars and monthly sessions with media insiders including NYT, CNN, and TED. The overreaching goal of the Public Voices Fellowship is to assist the Fellows with producing tangible thought leadership, including op-eds, radio/TV appearances, speeches, and TED talks.  As a scholar of art education, with research interests now focusing on her autistic lived experience, Professor Hetrick aims to redress the absence of information that is vital to better understand, support, and engage with some autistic individuals, recognizing that no two autistics are alike. Some of the concepts that she will address are intricacies such as masking/social camouflaging (a performance of neurotypicality aiding in hiding autistic traits to assuage potential bullying); imagining a radial spectrum as opposed to linear (to eradicate the hierarchy between high and low functioning labels); recognizing autistics as having heightened double empathy as opposed to no empathy; and considering neurotypical and neurodivergent as different operating systems (neurotypes). Hetrick said, “My hope is that by engaging with my work, people will have a heighted awareness of the perspectives of autistic people. I want to use my own voice to (re)educate the public on the actuality of what life is like from inside the highly misunderstood, yet vividly colourful autistic world that I inhabit daily.”

portrait of Laura Hetrick
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