Arts and culture are central to being human. They are the focus of considerable scholarly and creative work among many of the School’s faculty and play a key role in our liberal arts education, where they enhance students’ capacities for critical and creative thinking in a variety of modes. At the same time, arts and culture enrich the experiences of the entire campus community, and the rich diversity of their offerings constitutes a considerable amenity to all who work and study here. As befits the only school in the University with the word “Arts” in its name, SAS will take a leading role to help raise the profile of the arts and culture across our campus.
Penn is home to a vibrant constellation of resources for arts and culture. A wide variety of SAS departments and programs both support the academic study of art and culture and nurture creative expression in writing, theater, the visual arts, and music. The work of colleagues in Annenberg, Design, Education, and Engineering adds further to this academic base. Students, faculty, and staff can also enjoy the activities sponsored by the Penn Humanities Forum, the Platt Student Performing Arts House, the Annenberg Center, Kelly Writers House, the Institute for Contemporary Art, the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the Morris Arboretum, the Kislak Center for Special Collections in the Van Pelt Library, the Arthur Ross Gallery, WXPN, and the Charles Addams Gallery.
These many activities will gain in prominence and impact with greater coordination. In cooperation with the Provost (under whose aegis many of Penn’s cultural centers fall), SAS will develop an infrastructure to optimize resources for arts and culture at Penn. This infrastructure will work to highlight the importance of art, culture, and the humanities in the School’s local and global initiatives, and to increase opportunities for the practice of the public humanities.
In education, a more sustainable and coherent arts and culture program will make Penn a desired destination for promising artists and support our commitment to renewing the curriculum, since teaching in these realms invites innovation. And some of these innovations could in turn further energize our efforts to increase diversity across campus, to engage locally, and to strengthen our global connections. We will continue to support freshman seminars that generate excitement about these areas early in students’ Penn careers, and encourage innovative object- and performance-based pedagogies that take full advantage of campus resources to help students develop modes of thinking that go beyond the logical-mathematical and linguistic modes of intelligence that otherwise dominate their educational experience at Penn. We will expand offerings of local and global arts and culture internships and will explore the creation of undergraduate and graduate certificates in public humanities. The School will seek means of attracting distinguished practitioners of arts and culture to teach, such as by expanding the use of its Artist-in-Residence track.