New Performing and Visual Arts Design and Technology Major Added to Curriculum
The interdisciplinary area of study merges the specialties of theater and dance, art, media and communication studies, music, museum studies, and film studies into a uniquely tailored degree that sits at the intersection of creativity and critical thinking.
A new major provides students with a foundation in both performing and visual arts, while also offering individualized opportunities to tailor the major to their own specific design and technology interests.
“The performing and visual arts design and technology (PVDT) major invites students to take risks, ask questions, and develop sophisticated interpretative, artistic, and practical skills with which they may have had little experience,” said Associate Professor of Theater and Dance in Design & Technology and PVDT Coordinator Shannon Zura. “The major sets students up for success in a broad range of fields and gives students the flexibility to continue to explore post-graduation.”
Course requirements for the major necessitate study of subject matter and experience in a wide array of disciplines, incorporating many of the great strengths found in traditional arts and communications degrees, while expanding opportunities to practice design and technical work within whichever medium each student prefers. The approach encapsulates the spirit of the liberal arts and integrative nature of Ursinus’s distinctive curriculum, Quest. PVDT majors focus equally on exploring design as a form of creative expression and cultivating the skills desired extensively across industries.
Zura noted, “the global entertainment and media industry is worth over two trillion dollars—it’s a dynamic industry that changes as quickly as the technology that supports it. We aim to inspire our artists, technicians, and managers to embrace innovation and see themselves as leaders.”
In such a rapidly evolving landscape, demand for professionals with practical experiential training continues to grow. Ursinus’s PVDT program serves as a liberal arts response to industry need and student interest. With the mentorship of Associate Professor and Chair of Theater and Dance Meghan Brodie ’00, along with Shannon Zura, both Naomi Marin ’23 and Emily Bradigan ’23 will graduate this May with self-initiated majors in theater design and technology—pursuits that have inspired the creation of the new major.
Marin dedicated this past summer to independent design research as an Ursinus Summer Fellow. Her investigations considered designer influences and the connection between culture and design, culminating in a project titled “Designing for Yiddish Drama.” Bradigan garnered hands-on experience designing summer productions for Firebird Theatre. In conjunction with Ursinus’s Experiential Learning (XLP) opportunities, the performing and visual arts design and technology program builds upon faculty mentorship and professional opportunities.
Brodie is thrilled by the program’s evolution and its impact on students, expressing, “one of the most rewarding parts of working with students exploring design and technology has been observing the tremendous success of students who did not previously see themselves as capable of creating and executing this type of work. Students working with Professor Zura have grown in confidence and curiosity.”