Texas Tech University

New Degree Track Blends Design, Arts and Technology

Glenys Young

May 15, 2015

The College of Visual and Performing Arts has created a new category under the Bachelor of General Studies.

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The Texas Tech University College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) will soon offer a new option for students looking to careers that blur the lines between technology, arts and design.

Under the Bachelor of General Studies (BGS), the newly created Interdisciplinary Design, Arts & Technology (IDAT) track is a unique liberal arts degree that features specialized training in the arts with an orientation toward technology and design. It may be of particular interest to students preparing for a career combining or integrating such fields as art direction, game design, event design, interactive and convergent media, animation, app design, song writing, sound design for time-based media and concept art. The track also would be appropriate for students who want to produce technology-oriented work that crosses boundaries between fine art and design or between theatre, music and visual arts.

“The college is interested in developing curricular options for students and opportunities for faculty that promote interdisciplinarity and innovation,” said Andrew Martin, professor of art and associate dean in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “By combining existing minors as concentrations within and outside of the college, the BGS already encouraged multiple fields of study unified by a liberal arts foundation. Ultimately, the degree functions like a more current version of a BA degree, which prioritizes breadth and integration across fields over study of a single field. This seems particularly timely for students who are interested in career opportunities which may be dependent on their ability to work across disciplines and boundaries, using technology to think broadly and holistically.”

The Interdisciplinary Technology Concentration (ITC) – the cornerstone of the IDAT track – includes VPA 2310, Intro to BGS IDAT (a writing intensive course); 18 hours of courses selected from communication, technology and interdisciplinary courses; and VPA 4110, the BGS IDAT Capstone course. The second concentration is chosen from existing minors in art, music or theatre & dance. The third concentration is selected in close consultation with the College of Visual and Performing Arts adviser and faculty member from courses within or outside the college that support the student's broader interdisciplinary interests.

“The college leadership team invited interested faculty from across the college to participate, and a group representing the college and each unit evaluated likely student interest in such a track, potential career opportunities and feasible ways to adapt it to the existing BGS framework,” Martin said. “The group informally surveyed related programs and approaches at other institutions familiar to the participating faculty, and concluded demand would be significant. Although the existing BGS in the college arguably already provided general opportunity for such students, the IDAT track and the Interdisciplinary Technology Concentration with its two new courses brings sharper focus and cohesion to the process of combining design, the arts and newer technologies without reducing the flexibility of the overall degree.”

Students can begin taking applicable courses this fall, but the two new classes – VPA 2310 and VPA 4110 – probably will not be offered until fall 2016. VPA 4110, the one-credit Capstone course, is taken concurrently with two credits in an appropriate 4000-level independent study with the faculty mentor. At least 36 credit hours must be in courses within the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

“Many faculty will become more familiar with the track once the new courses are implemented and students choose to pursue it, but the participating faculty from across the college have been very excited about working on this program and committed to implementing it as soon as possible,” Martin said. “The IDAT provides a template for many other possible BGS degrees, and several ideas are under initial discussion. The college hopes that as faculty members see the IDAT begin to work, they will be the ideal source for more ideas for new concentrations and tracks that will further enhance the BGS as a strong undergraduate degree alternative to BAs and BFAs.”