CAD First Year/Foundations – update from Graham Carson

An update on  the First Year and Foundations experience for CAD from FY Coordinator, Graham Carson:

Dear Colleagues,

Since assuming this role, in addition to scheduling foundations courses and securing adjunct faculty, I have been focusing on soliciting input from faculty members from the various departments including those teaching Foundations courses.  If I have not spoken to you yet, fear not, your voice is valuable and your input will be asked for and received!

Here are some things/ideas that we are working with divided into Communication, Curriculum and Community.

Communication: Across the board and up and down the ladder.  Sharing of ideas and knowledge of what is happening will benefit all.

–I have been meeting with representative faculty from Industrial Design, Fine Art and some of the Crafts to discuss the First Year (FY) needs of these programs.
–Meetings are set up to discuss FY with reps from Graphic Design, Interiors and additional Craft departments- ALL departments will be met with before semester’s end
–FY faculty have met and will meet again to reach all of them to re-evaluate the Foundations course descriptions and create a new FY Mission statement that represents the FY Core (2D, 3D, Drawing, 4D) and a potential list of outcomes.
–Next year the FY faculty will have weekly open session meetings to discuss ongoing projects within the classes and allow for full communication between FT and adjuncts – all faculty are welcome to attend- a schedule will be sent out next fall
–FY Coordinator will be the repository for all syllabi/outlines for Foundation classes so there is one place if you want to see “what happens in that class”
–Have reps from 2D, 3D, 4D, and Drawing meet with undergraduate chairs by semesters end to talk about the individual programs and what is covered in the FY with examples – place more of this online as well (this is scheduled for the April 27th UG Chair Meeting)

Curriculum:  Enhancing the FY programs that we have to give the students a better experience and wider knowledge base. Here are just some possibilities:

–Looking at programs like VCU, Cal Arts, RISD, MICA, SCAD and George Mason University
–Possibility of changing Spring semester with additional options for students in the form of Friday workshops with rotating faculty-teaching to their strength- and more interdisciplinary art/design work.
–One section per discipline (2D, 3D, 4D, and Drawing) reserved for visiting internal faculty member?
–Guest speakers from the majors in every Foundations class to speak of how the concepts go beyond the Freshman year
–Revisit the idea of flexibility and exposure within Foundations as a chance to explore a wide range of materials/processes
–Many voices are calling for a separate Raster/Vector class, again, Freshman year- preferably Fall semester.
–Review of a student’s FY Portfolio by their chosen major would give more weight to what the student does in their foundation classes.  Some universities have the students re-apply to their program after the freshman year.  Creation of some student success guidelines.
–FY must be broad in its application and more interdisciplinary to be successful for the students, not pointing them down specific paths.
–Calls for revisiting the possibility of a stand-alone Foundations/FY program department

Community:  Create more of a community experience for the freshman as whole.  Get them excited about their FY experience separate from but similar to what they will have in their later majors.

–A Foundations-wide event for Fall semester 2016 has been proposed by multiple faculty along the lines of a Beaux-Arts ball
–Faculty/student CAD get-to-know event for early in Fall 2016
–Include all first year faculty online for students to see.  Add better bio’s about faculty and their professional areas of practice/strengths
–More opportunities for Freshman to display their work and for others to see it.

More to come.  Thank you all – your input and feedback is very welcome!


Charles Graham Carson
Lecturer; Industrial Design
Foundations First Year Coordinator

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