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Minor in international arts available come fall

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491 ;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Beginning this fall, University of Illinois students may elect to pursue a minor concentration of studies in international arts.

Developed and administered by the UI's College of Fine and Applied Arts, the international arts minor will be an option for all UI students, regardless of their college enrollment. Participating students will select from a coherent body of course work focusing on other cultures and societies.

To satisfy requirements of the minor, students must successfully complete 18 credit hours of approved course work. The course list will include a "foundation course," on the fine and applied arts, society and culture; electives that explore the fine and applied arts of other cultures; two courses that focus on one distinct cultural region outside of North America; one course on global themes and perspectives; and one relevant course in anthropology, history, language, literature or political science.
Students also may receive credit for relevant courses taken while participating in the UI’s Study Abroad Program.

Kathleen F. Conlin, dean of FAA, said the international arts minor was created as a new approach to understanding world cultures and societies through their art, design, dance, music, theater, architecture, built environment and cultural practices.
"Area studies have traditionally been offered through the social sciences, e.g., economics, political science, agricultural policy and the like," Conlin said. "But in a post-Cold War, increasingly borderless world, where cultural influences move rapidly around the world," she said, "faculty and staff members in FAA and the UI’s International Programs and Studies recognized the need for a fresh approach to international studies," she said.

The roots of the new minor can be traced to the success of a 1997-98 pilot program funded by a Ford Foundation grant to the UI to support an initiative called "Revitalizing Area Studies: Crossing Borders." The UI subsequently received a three-year renewal grant to continue the program, which brings together undergraduate and graduate students from a wide variety of academic disciplines for seminars and arts practicums. The overarching theme is "Area Studies, Identity and the Arts," and this year's theme is transnational cultural industry and local identity.

"The international arts minor was originally promised in our Ford Foundation proposal," Conlin said. "We wanted to institutionalize the work initiated in the Ford seminars so students who came after this could benefit from this fresh approach to international studies."

Conlin added that FAA's emphasis on the international dimension also is a direct response to strategic goals for the campus outlined in UI Chancellor Michael Aiken's 1995 "Framework for the Future" document.

"One of the Framework's strategic goals was to internationalize the curriculum," said Conlin, who noted that the arts are inherently international and that FAA has been building momentum toward that goal for some time. As evidence, she cited strong programs in Japanese arts and culture; landscape architecture programs in India; the longstanding architecture program in Versailles, France; urban and regional planning programs in Indonesia; and research and course work on South African theater. The minor is accompanied by a two-page list of courses with international themes, and, Conlin said, the list is growing.

More information on the international arts minor is available on the FAA Web site at