Professor School of Art and Design College of Visual and Performing Arts
Course(s) Targeted by this Innovation
ARTH 282: Introduction to World Art
Purpose and Impact
ARTH 282, Introduction to World Art, is “a global survey of practices in the visual arts from ancient times to the modern era.” The course is required for the Bachelor of Arts/Sciences in Art (B.A/B.S), the Bachelor in Design and Arts Education (B.S.Ed.), the Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Visual Studies (B.A.), and the Bachelor of Arts in Art Studio and Design (B.F.A.). The course is also available for general education credit, where it is a creativity and critical analysis general education course for the Origins and Influences Pathway. The proposed innovation would thus potentially impact a broad range of students, with particular emphasis on different majors in the School of Art & Design.
The innovations that I am proposing would create learning pathways that intentionally cater to these different disciplinary skill sets as well as varying socio-economic backgrounds (see further below) with the goal of improving student performance, fostering student agency, and promoting equity across the board. Put simply, it means completely rethinking the design of this course—which I have been teaching for 14 years—from the bottom up.
Description of Innovation
As described above, Introduction to World Art serves many different learning communities, who approach the set materials in very different ways. For instance, visual artists tend to quickly master visual analysis and excel in oral expression but struggle to convey their analyses in writing that adheres to the discipline’s conventions. Art history majors, by contrast, tend to demonstrate strong writing skills but lack in the technical understanding and creative empathy of the visual artist. In addition, there is the complicating factor of socio-economic background, where art history and art education tend to attract more socially affluent students than the studio and design majors. The innovations that I am proposing would create learning pathways that intentionally cater to these different disciplinary skill sets as well as socio-economic backgrounds with the goal of improving student performance, fostering student agency, and promoting equity across the board.
First, I would like to introduce opportunities for students to respond to the art and architecture in ways that harnesses their individual creativity: for instance, having students create works in their chosen medium (e.g., painting, digital art) which respond to an assigned image or monument and in this way explain its significance to them. Second, I would like to explore opportunities for exploiting virtual reality within the classroom to enhance the experience of art and architecture in global perspective, transporting students to place they have never been and/or may never visit (this includes, for instance, the remarkable resources of digitized museum collections). Third, I would like to introduce opportunities for active learning in which they come together in groups: for instance, to work at solving problems of interpretation (e.g., the meaning of individual paintings, optical illusions presented by buildings) as a collective. And finally, I would like to pioneer exercises underwritten by inclusive teaching practices, especially since communities of color have repeatedly struggled in their performance in this course (as well as the version of ARTH 282 taught by my colleagues). This latter innovation is both the biggest challenge and the biggest need.