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Faust, Smith announce pursuit of new concentration in theater, dance and media

Drew Faust, President of Harvard University and Michael D. Smith, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences announced today University support for a new undergraduate concentration in theater, dance and media. The faculty-proposed concentration is intended to bring more focus to the study of the humanities, the cultivation of artistic talent, and the integration of existing Harvard strengths in these disciplines.

The concentration proposal – developed by Martin Puchner, Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and of English and Comparative Literature – builds on the recommendations of the President's Arts Task Force and of the Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA) and reflects significant interest of the undergraduates.  Five million dollars in seed funding has been furnished by President Faust’s office to launch the concentration. First the proposal must undergo a formal curricular review process required to create any new concentration. If successful, the hope is to offer courses as early as the fall of 2015 and launch the concentration in December 2015. This initial investment is hoped to inspire further fundraising efforts through the Campaign for Arts and Sciences.

 “The $5M in seed funding from President Faust has enabled us to act on strong faculty interest and respond to student excitement in this area, while continuing our campaign to fully fund this effort,” said Dean Smith. “I am excited by the prospect of expanding the undergraduate curriculum to recognize and celebrate the importance of these topics, and I look forward to the faculty’s deliberations of how best to open opportunities to our students for deep and concerted study.”

“The theater, dance and media concentration is a true reflection of our shared commitment to strengthening the study and practice of the arts at Harvard,” said President Faust. “I am so pleased to bring these resources to bear and to collaborate with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to pursue approval of this concentration. In addition to our renowned faculty, the Harvard community includes one of the nation’s premier theater companies led by Artistic Director Diane Paulus (AB 88), thriving student theater clubs, the nation’s most important film archive, and a long tradition of influential artist alumni ranging from Leonard Bernstein to John Lithgow, and from Yo-Yo Ma to Natalie Portman. Strengthening collaborations and forging new ones to create a rigorous course of study will allow us to realize our long-term aspirations for this concentration.”

“Three features of the performing arts – their composite, multi-media nature; the importance of historical appropriation; and their inherently collaborative process – make the concentration in theater, dance and media a quintessential liberal art that Harvard is uniquely positioned to teach,” said Diana Sorensen, Dean of Arts and Humanities and James F. Rothenberg Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature.

The concentration in theater, dance and media is an outgrowth of the President’s Task Force on the Arts and the work of the Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA).

The Task Force was appointed by President Faust in 2007 with the charge of strengthening the practice and study of the arts as well as better integrating the arts into the University’s curriculum. In December 2008 the Task Force issued a comprehensive report outlining recommendations for improvement in the areas of undergraduate and graduate curriculum presence, and suggesting operational and physical space improvements that would enhance on-campus presence for the arts.

At the suggestion of the Task Force, in December 2009 President Faust announced the formation of a University-wide advisory committee on the arts, composed of faculty, students and administrators from across the University. The Harvard University Committee on the Arts (HUCA) is led by Diana Sorensen, Dean of Arts and Humanities and James F. Rothenberg Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature and Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design, and seeks to advise the President and Provost on matters related to enhancement of the presence of the arts within the University. Since 2009 HUCA has brought together administrators and faculty leaders from all parts of the University where arts study and practice take place to increase the accessibility, visibility, and impact of the arts on campus.