Spring 2016 Interdisciplinary Courses

Published on October 16, 2015

Below is a downright fantastic list of cross-disciplinary courses available to you in the School of the Arts.  For up to date information including class times, head on over to the Schedule of Classes here.



Product Development for Museum Shops

Andrea Alvarez

CRN: 340000; ARTS 391-006

Did you miss out on last year’s Emerging Artists & Innovators program?

For the second year, VCUarts and the VMFA Shop are collaborating on a unique opportunity for students to develop their own products inspired by the museum’s permanent collection to be featured and sold in the VMFA shop. Try your hand at converting your fine arts practice to a commercial practice! Six finalists from last year’s group sold their work at a weekend-long Trunk Show at the VMFA and are continuing to sell their products at the shop.

Please direct inquiries about this course to the instructor, Andrea Alvarez (alvareza@vcu.edu).


Working Your Arts Degree

Jeanette Hickl and Jody Symula

1 credit and online

Working Your Arts Degree is a one credit online course with a focus on second year students. It will help you bridge the gap between your skills, interests and goals and the world of work. Taking into consideration your coursework and talents, the course will help you develop moveable and flexible pathways to being a happy healthy person after you graduate from VCUarts. Whatever that means for you.


No Paper Required

Chris Norris

3 credits

No Paper Required is a course designed to pull drawing away from its traditional home and mediums. Instead of drawing with charcoal on paper students will incorporate drawing with action, objects, and installation. The class will explore the role that materials, scale, and distribution can have on drawing.


Cody Whitby

Intro to the Internet of Things

1 Credit

A 5-week blitz open to all School of the Arts students interested in exploring the Internet of Things. This course should give students with no programming or electronics experience a toolkit to further explore these areas.


EnVisioning Ecology  

Intersections of Art, Ecology and Communication

Laura Chessin

3 Credits

This course is designed for Arts (visual and performing), Design, Education, Communication majors and Scientists to explore media and methods to communicate current  issues in ecology and conservation. Students will produce a short video (camera equipment will be available) based on an issue of their own interest, and will create a final piece (presentation, film, installation, performance or other medium) to present at the year-end Rice Research Day/ Arts Festival. This course includes an optional study abroad component during Spring Break to work with current education, conservation and political efforts to protect the fragile mangrove forests along Panama’s coast.  The aim of this class is for students to build tools unique to their area of expertise, and to experience a deeper understanding of their engagement with the natural world. More important, students will begin to create (or build on) a role they can play to engage the public with an understanding of how ecological issues are interconnected with issues in public health, economics, politics, and culture. This course is especially valuable to students who are interested in focusing their work on the intersection of ecological issues, education, advocacy, and public engagement.



Sarah Mizer

1 Credit

A 5-week long smorgasbord open to all School of the Arts students interested inexpanding their communities, practices and outlook. On the menu will be field trips, workshops and various visiting experts from within VCU and beyond.


Cultural Passport

John Freyer

3 Credits

The VCUarts Cultural Passport seminar “RVArts” will explores the diversity of visual and performing arts in the Richmond area. Part art appreciation, part community engagement; students will attend twelve art events though the course of the Spring semester and will help generate a listing of top cultural events on and off campus for the current and following semesters. This hybrid online/offline seminar will meet six times in person at the VCUarts Depot Building for special topic specific lectures including introductions to visual arts, dance, theatre and music.  Students will also attend events together leveraging social media to check in and cross promote selected events and lectures.  This seminar will serve to introduce incoming students to the wealth of cultural events occurring both on and off campus and in turn will transform student participants into ambassadors for all things Art at VCU and in the greater Richmond area.



Jorge Benitez

3 Credits

1968 was a year of violence, cultural fervor, revolutionary struggle, and sociopolitical reevaluation on a global scale. From American college campuses to the streets of Paris and Prague, young activists challenged the system while listening to the same rock & roll soundtrack. American cities burned after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., while the assassination of Robert Kennedy set the stage for the rise of Richard Nixon. Alienation, anguish, and outbursts of countercultural creativity marked the year as the Tet Offensive showed American vulnerability in Vietnam. Meanwhile, the Democratic convention in Chicago highlighted breaks between the white working class and the left- leaning anti-war bourgeoisie. New challenges arose as race, sex, and emerging environmental issues spurred new liberation movements. Even the arts faced violence as Andy Warhol nearly died after being shot by Valerie Solanas, author of the SCUM Manifesto. This interdisciplinary class will address the cross-cultural and countercultural richness of an explosive year that marked the transition from modernist certainty to postmodern skepticism and uncertainty.



Lea Marshall

2 Credits

Tuesday 5:10-7:30

Synesthesia: from the ancient Greek, “together,” and “sensation,” a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color. This course will investigate and reveal commonalities in the creative process for choreographers, visual artists, and poets/writers. Ideas to be explored include the ways in which creative work embodies its own essence and meaning, and the ways in which that essence and meaning is experienced by creators and viewers.


Art Education and Games

Ryan Patton 

3 Credits

Wednesday 5:00-8:00pm

This course will familiarize students with the literature and key issues within the fields of art and education as focused on the teaching, use, and making of games within art and educational contexts. Students will develop an overview of the game studies, games & education, and how games can be understood as art as related to teaching methods, approaches, and contexts.

For more information contact Dr. Ryan Patton (rpatton@vcu.edu)