Digital Arts and Media Bridging Disciplines Program

STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVE: Information technology for creative production has brought about significant changes in how we create—and just as importantly, how we consume—art and media. The presence of advanced computer technologies in nearly every aspect of the entertainment sector and commercial media production points to the need for knowledge and skills in both the arts and the sciences.

The Digital Arts and Media Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) is designed to guide students toward careers in this dynamic field by providing a unique mix of courses from Fine Arts, Radio-TV-Film, Computer Sciences, Humanities, and Engineering. The BDP provides a framework for students to explore and create work that pushes the boundaries of traditional disciplines and media. The foundation courses provide the conceptual scaffolding for exploring new media and developing new skills, while the strand courses allow students to pursue individual interests in games and entertainment, image and film, mixed media, music and audio, or other areas.

An interdisciplinary faculty panel helps students choose courses related to Digital Arts and Media, produce creative digital projects, and identify connecting research and internship opportunities.

BDP certificates combine courses that fulfill core requirements, electives, and a limited number of courses counting toward students’ majors with unique research and internships. With planning, the BDP should not add time to students’ UT careers. Rather, the BDP certificates are designed to help students choose the courses they already have to take in an integrated way, giving them the opportunity to develop a secondary area of specialization.

Our goal is to have the Digital Arts and Media BDP approved for recognition on students’ official transcripts. We would like to begin recognizing the Digital Arts and Media BDP on official transcripts for students who graduate in fall 2009. This change affects pages 21-22 of the 2008-10 Undergraduate Catalog.

NEED (EXPECTED DEMAND): There are currently 50 active students in the Digital Arts and Media BDP, and we expect 5-10 students to graduate with a Digital Arts and Media certificate in the 2008-09 academic year. We expect that the program will continue to grow and could accommodate up to approximately 100 active students in any given year.

In order to earn a Certificate in the Digital Arts and Media Bridging Disciplines Program, students must fulfill the following requirements:

13. At least nineteen credit hours of course work, to be distributed as follows:
a. Foundation Courses: Ten credit hours of foundation courses that introduce key concepts and methodologies related to the interdisciplinary study of Digital Arts and Media. Students choose one course from each of the following categories:
i. Forum Seminar: BDP 101: Exploring Digital Arts and Media; or another course approved by the Digital Arts and Media faculty committee.
ii. Theory and Practice Course: RTF 344M: Digital Media/Art: Theory and Practice.
iii. Foundations Course: CS 320N: Visual Programming; or RTF 309: Communication, Technology, and Society.
iv. Social Issues Course: Students choose one course from an approved list, or they may petition the Digital Arts and Media faculty committee to count an unlisted course. For the complete list of currently approved Social Issues courses, please see the attached Digital Arts and Media Curriculum Sheet.
b. Connecting Experiences: Three to six credit hours of undergraduate research, internships, or independent creative project courses that connect students’ Digital Arts and Media BDP to their major field. Connecting Experiences are designed to be individualized based on the student’s interests and goals, and a variety of course numbers offered through the BDPs (BDP 310, 311, 320, 321) and in departments across the University may be used. All students must write a 3-5 page essay reflecting on the experience, in addition to the academic requirements specified by the faculty member supervising the student and assigning a grade. Examples of past Connecting Experiences completed by Digital Arts and Media students include research on alternative interfaces for video game and computer controllers; internships at the Austin Free-Net and Pulse Interactive; and an independent creative project producing story content for a student game development project.
c. Courses in a Strand: Three to six credit hours of courses in a strand that allow students to focus their remaining BDP course work. Students may design an individualized strand by choosing from an approved list of courses drawn from Radio-Television-Film, Computer Sciences, Art and Art History, Music, Electrical Engineering, and other departments. The attached curriculum sheet for Digital Arts and Media lists the currently approved courses for each strand. The faculty committee for Digital Arts and Media approves new courses that may count toward the certificate each semester, and the committee may also approve student petitions to count unlisted courses on a case-by-case basis.
14. A 3-4 page integration essay in which students reflect on what they have learned and accomplished through their BDP experience. These essays will be reviewed by members of the BDP faculty panel.
15. Students must earn a grade of C or above in each of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements. All but one of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements must be taken on the letter-grade basis.
16. At least half of the required course work in the BDP certificate must be completed in residence at The University of Texas at Austin.
17. Completion of the requirements of a major.

Bruce Pennycook (Committee Chair), Senior Lecturer, School of Music and Department of Radio-Television-Film
Diane Davis, Associate Professor, Department of Rhetoric and Writing
Brian Evans, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Keene Haywood, Manager, New Media Group, Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment
Gloria Lee, Associate Professor, Department of Art and Art History
Bruce Porter, Professor, Department of Computer Sciences
Elaine Rich, Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Sciences
Yacov Sharir, Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance
Sharon Strover, Chair and Professor, Department of Radio-Television-Film
Sam Wilson, Chair and Professor, Department of Anthropology

The purpose of a student transcript is to serve as a comprehensive record of a student’s academic progress and achievement at the University. Students pursuing BDP certificate programs at UT Austin complete 19 credit hours related to secondary areas of specialization without receiving recognition for this work on their official transcripts. Recognizing the Digital Arts and Media BDP on students’ official transcripts will represent a more comprehensive picture of these students' academic achievement at UT Austin.

It is in the interests of our students to list BDP certificates on official transcripts, particularly as they apply for jobs and for graduate and professional programs. In most cases, students pursue BDP certificates in order to develop a secondary area of specialization that enhances their major and gives them an additional professional qualification. For example, a student pursuing a certificate in Digital Arts and Media through the Bridging Disciplines Program might wish to complement an Art or Music degree with a certificate that demonstrates more specific knowledge related to digital media and digital art creation. By recognizing this program on transcripts, we will help these students convey more effectively the full picture of what they learned and accomplished at UT.

Recognizing BDP certificate programs is also in the interest of the University, not only as a means of supporting students as they apply for jobs and graduate/professional school programs, but also as a means of recruiting new students and advising current students. From a recruitment perspective, the ability to combine a major with a certificate might prove attractive to prospective students, particularly those with interests in areas where UT does not yet offer a major. From an advising perspective, the option of combining a certificate with a major might help persuade students to choose majors more rationally, especially in cases where students have been rejected from their first-choice college or feel compelled to select multiple majors.


Approver: Paul B. Woodruff
Date: December 16, 2008
Title: Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies