A unique opportunity for students with a passion for the arts to create individualized programs of study.
Interdisciplinary Arts at Ship
The Interdisciplinary Arts (IA) Program at Shippensburg University features courses in both performance and criticism across a broad range of media, including:
- Creative writing
It is an ideal major for students with diverse interests and skills who want a comprehensive education in the arts and who like to “think outside of the box” by studying the arts along with other courses that suit their career aspirations, such as courses in education, business, and the social sciences. As a result, IA majors gain both a comprehensive understanding of the arts and the critical and communicative skills necessary to succeed in their chosen professions.
The IA Program at Shippensburg is unique in focusing primarily on the arts, and it is the only major of its kind among the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Departments participating in the IA program provide students with the latest technology, small class size, which enables individualized instruction, and professors who are among the most creative and innovative members of the Shippensburg faculty. IA majors at Ship have access to a wide variety of outstanding performances at the university’s fifteen thousand-seat Luhrs Performing Arts Center.
Students can deepen their understanding of the art of a certain culture by studying abroad. There are regular opportunities to join field trips to museums and theaters in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In short, students are able to engage creatively with others and acquire the skills they want in an exciting, multifaceted environment where the emphasis is on participatory learning and close student-faculty interaction.
Admission and Degree Requirements
Five foundation courses, including Introduction to Interdisciplinary Arts, expose IA majors to the richness and diversity of the arts, and course selections from a curriculum track provide grounding in four categories of knowledge: History and Culture, Theory and Criticism, Arts Praxis, and Professional Skills. These and additional course selections, made in consultation with the program director and the student’s advisors, determine a primary area of study (6 courses, totaling 18 credits) and two secondary areas of study (4 courses each, totaling 24 credits) that reflect the student’s particular interests, skills, and personal aspirations. A student interested in a career in art criticism, for example, might choose art as a primary area and English and communication/journalism as secondary areas, while another student interested in musical theater performance might choose music as a primary area and dance and theatre as secondary areas.
Although coursework in at least 2 different art forms is required for the major, course selection is not limited to the arts alone. The IA program offers its majors a considerable amount of flexibility in fashioning plans of study to suit their individual research interests and career goals, and it encourages working across traditional academic boundaries. The program not only embraces traditional connections among the arts as exemplified in theatrical design and production, performance art, or graphic fiction, but also more contemporary methods of integrating the arts such as multimedia installation, film or video production, and digital and web-based art forms.
In the first semester of senior year, IA majors undertake an individual research project culminating in a senior thesis—a critical study of the influence of painting and music on a work of literature, for example, or the writing of an original screenplay, or an illustrated essay on the interaction of the arts in a certain film, opera, dance performance, or musical drama. In their final semester, IA majors can choose to present a public showcase of their work—an exhibition, a performance piece, an illustrated lecture, a multimedia presentation, just to name a few possibilities—or to do an internship in an arts-related organization. Students opting for the showcase have the opportunity to display their work in a public forum, while those electing an internship can use the experience as a springboard for professional employment.
Careers in IA
The rapid growth in multimedia technology has created a large market for people with a comprehensive foundation in the arts. By combining courses in art history and theory with courses featuring hands-on learning and marketable business skills, IA graduates enter the job market with a broad-based perspective and a unique combination of professional assets. The program provides majors with a foundation for careers such as:
- Performing arts
- Arts education
- Journalistic criticism
- Media production services
- Museum programming and exhibition
- Arts management and fundraising
- Government and community arts administration
Since it offers an opportunity to select courses in several disciplines, the major is adaptable to a wide variety of career goals, and it is often elected as a double major with art, English, communication/journalism, or majors in business, education, and the social sciences.
Internships are a vital part of the IA program, and they often lead to entry-level positions. During their senior year, IA majors have served as interns in galleries and museums, with performance companies and arts foundations, and in the fields of public relations, arts education, and the mass media. Recently, students have worked for the Chambersburg Arts Council, the Nickelodeon network, the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg, and the US Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle. Faculty members work closely with IA majors in choosing internships that will help them achieve their professional goals.
The various departments that participate in the IA program offer a broad range of extra-curricular activities, depending on the student’s personal interests. Among them are student publications such as the Reflector (creative writing), Visivio (art and photography), and the Slate (weekly campus newspaper); both a student-run television station (SUTV) and a radio station (WSYC); Act V Theatre, a student drama group; Orchesis, a modern dance troupe at Wilson College, which participates in the IA program; and a number of Shippensburg University bands, choirs, and music ensembles. Students can also take a hand in programming major arts events on campus by joining the Activities Programming Board.