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Expanded Curriculum Makes a Pitch for more Students to Explore Innovative Art

instructor standing in circle of students in a large room conducting acting class

July 13, 2023

Beginning fall 2023, all UNC students will have more unique and diverse opportunities to pursue music and art during their college careers. In the process of revamping the College of Performing and Visual Arts (PVA) curriculum, Dean Cristina Goletti, MFA, is creating a cultural and creative hub to support the development of future artists, scholars and educators.  

“We’re doing a lot of work to make sure our students and our faculty from the three schools within PVA feel that they can integrate and collaborate to expand the boundaries that art disciplines have created in the past,” Goletti said.  

To start, the college is at the cutting edge of music in higher education, offering two new undergraduate concentrations to the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree.  

The Latinx Music concentration is the first of its kind in the United States, giving students an in-depth look at the musical traditions of South and Central America as well as the Caribbean and Mexico. This concentration allows students to play in ensembles that honor music genres like mariachi, cumbia, tango, samba and others.  

The Culture and Expression concentration will build on the already successful Bachelor of Arts in Music, affording extra flexibility in the curriculum to offer students multiple possibilities for minors, certificates and to pursue their areas of interest in the field of music or beyond. 

“Both of these concentrations are not audition based, which is a real revolution in the way that we have been thinking about our School of Music for a long time,” Goletti said. “We are adding these to make sure that anybody who has a desire to study music at a university level can do so in an environment of excellence and dedication to music. “ 

The Latinx Music concentration intentionally emphasizes diversity, equity and inclusivity and the university’s commitment to becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution by 2025. It will also align the coursework with where the industry is heading. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, there was a 35% growth in the Latinx music market in the U.S. between 2020 and 2021. 

Continuing with efforts to offer an art experience to all students at UNC, PVA also created a new certificate in Theatre Design and Technology. Previously, those courses were only available to students in PVA’s School of Theatre Arts and Dance (STAD) who were pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Acting, Musical Theatre, or Theatre Design and Technology. Now, by repackaging the 22 credits of existing design and technology coursework, all UNC students will be able to take part in the design and technology aspects of theatre. 

"We have students in STAD and at UNC who have an interest in technical theatre but do not want to major in this field," STAD Associate Director Anne Toewe, Ph.D., said. "The certificate allows students to pursue coursework in areas of technical theatre, like design, to which they might not have exposure through the more generalized Introduction to Theatre or Introductions to Technology classes now offered." 

Recent Theatre Design and Technology graduate Tim Cortez ‘23 says being involved in the art community is one of his top highlights of attending UNC. So, having students from other colleges join in would enhance their higher education experience and give them an extra sense of belonging. 

“I owe a lot of my strength as a designer to my peers,” Cortez said. “Beginning in my first year at UNC, my classmates and I would show each other our work and we all give each other feedback. We really got to know each other and value each other’s opinions and critiques. The community is very uplifting.” 

The new curriculum changes reflect the college’s ongoing efforts to ensure UNC students are well-positioned for employment after graduation by making them more well-rounded candidates. PVA was also successful last year in upgrading three existing Bachelor of Arts degrees in the School of Theatre Arts and Design – Acting, Musical Theatre and Theatre Design/Technology – to Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees to recognize the level of coursework and professional training the programs require. 

“This is really important because it speaks to the level of work that we’ve been doing for a long time in our programs in the College of Performing and Visual Arts, and that’s our program distinction,” Goletti said. “The students that go through those programs should have the benefit of that credential.” 

Goletti says revamping the PVA curriculum will continue to be a deliberate effort for years to come.  

“We will make sure that what we do here prepares our students for the world that they’re going to encounter,” Goletti said. “In that, we have the desire to continue to innovate. We will of course honor the traditions, but we will also very confidently look forward to what the arts world is and is going to be in the next five, 10, 20 years.” 

— written by Sydney Kern