Help Shape CAA’s New Guidelines for Addressing Changes to Visual Arts Programs at Colleges and Universities

About the Project:

Over the past few months there have been an alarming number of colleges and universities throughout the nation—from University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point to University of Texas at Austin—taking actions we perceive as detrimental to the education of future generations in the arts and humanities, particularly in the fields of art history, studio art, and design.

From our perspective, in many instances, it appears that decisions to merge departments, eliminate degrees, or reduce libraries are largely transactional in nature, designed to balance present-day budgets.

We worry that when focusing narrowly on fiscal realities of the day, institutions risk undervaluing the impact humanities programs have on preparing students for careers over their lifetimes. We believe that serving students of diverse racial, social, and economic backgrounds involves offering academic programs that allow them to fully explore themselves and their cultures, precisely the benefits from strong programs in the humanities, art history, studio art, and design.

We recognize that institutions must embrace structural changes, make adjustments in evolving physical and technological environments, and face pressures to demonstrate direct connections between academic studies and successful professions. Yet, we remain convinced, and research confirms, that students as individuals, and society as a whole, benefit from strong programs in the arts and humanities and a diverse range of academic resources to support different learning styles.

A CAA working group, co-chaired by Brian Bishop, Chair of the Professional Practices Committee and executive director Hunter O’Hanian, recently formed to propose Best Practices for Addressing Proposed Changes to an Art/Design Academic Unit, Library, or Degree at Colleges and Universities. It is hoped that these Best Practices will be approved by the CAA Board of Directors for dissemination by October 31, 2018.

We invite you to share with us specific situations that can help inform these guidelines. Please contact either Brian Bishop (bbishop@framingham.edu) or Hunter O’Hanian (hohanian@collegeart.org) directly.

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