A new School of Design that combines academic programs in art, graphic design and interior architecture has been approved at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
It would be the first in the Midwest to offer design education that unites three nationally accredited bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degree programs.
"Visual, experiential learners will find a path to pursue their creative passions and design their futures," said Valerie Cisler, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication.
In addition to attracting students to the separate majors of interior architecture, graphic design and studio art, the proposed School of Design will appeal to students interested in multi-media, visual arts and experiential design applications, who may not yet have a clear vision of their future career. Students will share foundation courses in their first year, fostering a sense of community and connection to design disciplines while developing an awareness of the options available in the profession.
Common interests would pair with common coursework in a "creative core" of skills and knowledge students acquire. The skills of multi-media production, fabrication, lighting design, and technical drawing can be applied to many design industries, said Aaron Kadoch, Division of Interior Architecture head and associate professor.
Pending final approval by the UW System Board of Regents and funding to repurpose space in the Noel Fine Arts Center, the School of Design would launch in fall 2020. A maker's space will be created for hands-on learning. Interior architecture faculty would relocate from the College of Professional Studies building to the Noel Fine Arts Center, joining art and design faculty.
"This program is designed to provide our students with the opportunity to work with professionals from all areas of art and design, expanding to include related creative disciplines of theatre design and technology and media arts," Cisler said. With faculty mentoring, students will be prepared and empowered for 'real life' work experiences including projects with community clients.
Students in art, interior architecture and graphic design indicated they were interested in building skill sets that prepared them for diverse careers. They want to explore, discover and learn in a fluid environment so they're equipped for various options.
"The School of Design is a wonderful concept," said Chelsea Martel, an interior architecture major. "Merging the various art and design-related programs will give students a broader knowledge base and allow them to develop skills they may not have developed otherwise."
Brittani Kasper, who is majoring in both art and interior architecture, likes that School of Design students can choose from more elective courses.
"The School of Design would introduce students to all areas of the design program and help them create a path to a career that fits them best," said Madalin Berube, an art and dance double major. "Students would greatly benefit because this program gives them all the skills and tools they need to succeed in a career after college."
In addition to linking disciplines, the School of Design will offer students team-based learning in studio art, design, problem-solving, leadership and project management, said Professor Stuart Morris, Art and Design Department chair. "We are setting up students to meet today's challenges in a creative economy."
"Stevens Point is a thriving arts community. Those connections and strong support help make UW-Stevens Point a place to inspire, create, and innovate," Cisler said.