Ohio University

Person playing cello surrounded by dancers.

New BFA in Interdisciplinary Arts

Creating Something New

Some students learn and create using hybrid forms: New music is encountered with moving images; visual art guides stage and costume design; dancers sometime combine live music into their movement. 

Faculty in the College of Fine Arts recognize the value of helping students develop expressive capacities in two or more related fine arts fields. This knowledge launched a new undergraduate degree, available fall 2020, that addresses the interdisciplinary nature of study in fine and performing arts fields. 

A joint effort within the schools of the College of Fine Arts, the bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Arts will launch with a highly collaborative mission and curriculum that will enable students to develop a unique plan of study by combining two artistic pursuits—art, dance, film, theater, and music—then choosing one primary and one secondary area of study.

“Today’s artists are increasingly creating in multiple disciplines or reaching across disciplinary lines for inspiration,” says College of Fine Arts Dean Matthew Shaftel. “Our goal is to not only curate a number of thoughtful pathways through this interdisciplinary degree, but also to be open to new pathways that a student might create.” 

What does this mean in practical terms? 

“A composer interested in film music could select music as the primary area and film as the secondary area,” says Garrett Field, assistant professor of ethnomusicology/musicology in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and the School of Music. “A dance teacher who needs to perform piano to accompany class could select dance as a primary area, and music as the secondary area.” Field, who will head the effort, says the program will emphasize studio production and artist creation, as well as elements of formal research and scholarship, all hallmarks of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts.

“Every degree program that the College is currently creating is fundamentally interdisciplinary and addresses the needs of today’s young artists,” says Shaftel. “For instance, the new BFA in Musical Theater combines the study of theater, dance, and music. The new master’s degree in Arts Administration links skills garnered in the arts with skills more traditionally associated with business. The BFA in Interdisciplinary Arts offers students the opportunity to create other cross-disciplinary connections and to think creatively, not only about their artistic output, but also about their own studies.”