School of Arts and Humanities
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UTD to Offer Arts and Technology Degrees
New Majors Are Only Ones of Their Kind in Texas
RICHARDSON, Texas (Oct. 6, 2003) - In a move that School of Arts and Humanities Dean Dr. Dennis Kratz characterized as a "watershed" in his school's history, The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in January will begin offering three innovative degree programs in arts and technology that are believed to be the first of their kind in Texas and among only a small number in the United States.
The three degrees - a bachelor of arts, a master of arts and a master of fine arts, all in arts and technology - were formally approved last month by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Although the degree programs will be administered by the School of Arts and Humanities, they actually will be collaboration between that school and UTD's Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science.
While there are a handful of programs and institutes dedicated to arts and technology — such as the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology - there are no known majors that experiment with the synergies between arts and technology and combine digital arts with game and interactive studies in the same manner as UTD's offerings.
Kratz said UTD's new interdisciplinary arts and technology tracks will include a strong course foundation in such areas as contemporary art, writing, design, game development, animation, computer science and photography, but also will offer classes for students wishing to teach in the field or for students who want to pursue careers outside of games and entertainment in such areas as the military or medicine, among others.
The new majors are the brainchild of Kratz and Dr. Thomas Linehan, a professor and director of UTD's Center for Interactive Arts and Engineering, who came to UTD in 2001 after 20 years of directing the animation program at The Ohio State University and after founding the Visualization Laboratory at Texas A&M University's College of Architecture. One of Linehan's primary goals after arriving at UTD was to create an arts and technology degree program.
"I believe this is a significant moment in UTD's history," Linehan said. "These new majors combine three of the most powerful areas of the creative economy - arts, science and technology - and together those fields can create new, knowledge-based jobs and, of course, more jobs ultimately means a better economy. It’s a clear win-win."
Kratz said the new programs "will address an academic need that is important to the future of Texas and the U.S."
"An arts and technology graduate from UTD will be prepared for a wide range of current and future careers that demand the ability to fuse visual images, verbal communication, creative thinking and technological expertise," the dean said. "These new degrees will help to revolutionize the way we think, learn and communicate in the future."
There are unique distinctions among the three degrees. The baccalaureate program is designed to prepare graduates for specific careers involving digital content design and development, and, according to Kratz, will "help students to understand and succeed in a media-rich, technologically advanced world." The master of arts degree is intended for those in professional practice wishing to enhance their knowledge or for those wishing to pursue a doctorate. And the master of fine arts is targeted at students wishing to teach arts-and-technology-related courses in colleges and universities and at those who intend to pursue careers in professional studio or design practice.
Ten full-time faculty members - from both the Jonsson School and Arts and Humanities - have been assigned to the new initiative, as well as 10 rotating adjunct professors. The rotating faculty will be drawn from the arts and technology industry and will help keep the program up-to-date on the latest trends.
Dr. Ivor Page, associate dean for undergraduate education in the Jonsson School said he believed the collaboration between the two schools would result in a huge payoff for students.
"Faculty in the Jonsson School and the School of Arts and Humanities have worked hard to make these new degree programs broad and exciting, as well as firmly based in math, arts and computer science," Page said. "Our graduates will have many career options to choose from, and I believe they will be highly sought after as they enter the working world."
The program is expected to enroll as many as 350 undergraduate and 50 master's students at the onset, and enrollments are expected to grow in the coming years.
The new offerings will bring the total number of degree programs at the university to 108. For more information about the new programs, please contact Linehan at 972-883-4379 or visit the Interactive Institute for Arts and Engineering Web site at http://iiae.utdallas.edu.
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This page last updated August 11, 2003