Visual Studies, Arch Sci May Merge


The Committee on Educational Policy will consider a report this fall recommending the creation of a new field of concentration -- Environmental Studies.

Combining the present fields of Architectural Sciences and Visual Studies, Environmental Studies will offer a wide variety of courses in the visual arts for both concentrators and non-concentrators.


Eduard F. Sekler, Director of the Carpenter Center and head of the Visual Studies program said that the combined field would give the Arch Sci and Visual Studies departments a chance to coordinate their programs and offer a much wider selection of experimental and lower level courses. "We've always had more applications than we could handle," Sekler said last week. "Under Environmental Studies we could accommodate more students, and offer a much broader curriculum."

Albert Szabo, Chairman of the Architectural Sciences Department, said that the proposed combination of fields would offer the Arch Sci department the chance to combine the study of architecture with more abstract courses in the visual arts, on such topics as light and color, space and volume, and visual communication.

The Committee for the Practice of the Visual Arts is now considering the new field, and will probably report its findings to the CEP-by Christmas.

The committee may suggest a direct merger of Arch Sci and Visual Studies under the name of Environmental Studies. To accomplish the merger, the committee would need the sanction of first the CEP and then the full Faculty.

Another alternative more likely at this point, would be to change the name of Arch Sci to Environmental Studies, while keeping the Visual Studies program technically discrete. The two fields would then gradually alter their curricula to prepare for a later merger.

Sekler said that during the transitional period, the Environmental Studies Department could experiment with offering concentration credit for Visual Studies courses.

No Vote Needed

One advantage of the transitional period, Dean Ford said last week, is that it would require only the approval of the CEP, and not a vote of the full Faculty, as would the direct merger of the two fields. The period would "build up sympathy and support for the joint course," he said.

Both Sekler and Szabo feel that the Visual Arts Committee is enthusiastic about the proposed combination. Critics have attacked the Arch Sci department in the past for being too pre-professional, too much of a training ground for the Graduate School of Design.

Under Environmental Studies, however, Szabo hopes to offer a "liberal arts program in visual perception," which would give students the foundation for work in urban planning, regional planning light and communications, or visual competition, as well as in architecture.

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