Parsons Graduation Requirements Reduced
Wednesday, April 6th, 2011
The change will give students more choice in their studies. "We want students to have more autonomy in the decisions around how to pursue their course of study at Parsons," said Joel Towers, Parsons dean. "The 134 credits was very restricted."
"I feel very, very good about the kind of opportunities our students have today," Towers said of the current curriculum. "But there's more that we can do."
The new curriculum will begin with the foundation year. Freshmen in the program will study one other program with their required classes as well as their desired major. "The hope is by experiencing that other thing you will have at least broadened your perspective, if not caught the bug," Towers said.
Freshmen currently take required 2D, 3D, studio, lab, and drawing classes and declare their major at the end of the year, before taking any classes within it.
Although the program offers skills necessary for most majors, many students dislike it. "Most fashion majors go in thinking they're going into fashion and foundation year is something they just have to get out of the way," said freshman Qing Zhou.
The new curriculum's framework will also give students room to study across divisions. "I want my students at Parsons to be able to take a minor at Lang," Towers said. "I want the Lang students to be able to take a minor at Parsons."
Minors will not change the BA/BFA program, Towers said, but will give students "more choice in the BFA portion of their work."
With fewer credits will come a lighter workload. Currently, students work over 50 hours per week, with some taking up to seven classes. The credit change will give students a more reasonable workload of about 45 hours a week, Towers says, and let students take advantage of the city.
The process of changing the curriculum began seven years ago when Towers sat in on a committee that examined the workload, courses and emerging practices in art and design by comparing an external review of Parsons to an internal review.
Since then, there have been about 15 faculty-led committees, including one for each school within Parsons, Towers said, involved in the process.
An undergraduate committee comprised of faculty from across Parsons is "filling out the framework." Once the provost's office has weighed in, the documents will be sent to the State of New York and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design for accreditation.
Towers sees the changes giving Parsons a breadth and depth it has lacked. "It's not about me directing [students] one way or the other," he said, "but opening up these opportunities."
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