Everyone knows that Thurston Hall is across the street from the International Monetary Fund, but students shouldn’t forget that our campus is also blocks away from the oldest private art gallery in the District.
In recent years, the historic Foggy Bottom building that houses the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design has seemed inadequate, so six months ago, its leaders considered relocating. But The Washington Post reported last week that the museum won’t be going anywhere, and this is good news for GW.
The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences should take advantage of this local art school by creating a dual degree program.
This proposal is hardly a stretch: GW and Corcoran College are involved in a D.C.-wide consortium program. So as it stands, GW students can take classes at Corcoran to go towards their fine arts major.
Through a five-year dual degree program, GW students would receive a bachelor of arts degree in fine arts here, alongside an master of fine arts degree from Corcoran in fields like photojournalism or graphic design – areas that the University does not offer.
Unlike other art programs across the nation, GW students interested in majoring in art are not required to submit a portfolio. They simply apply to the Columbian College like any other prospective student, and declare their major once they decide to matriculate. And while this process is convenient, it means that students who are dedicated to pursuing art as a career find themselves in classrooms with students who are majoring in art and could be far less experienced or invested.
But a partnership with an institution like Corcoran would expand GW students’ artistic horizons through specialized courses, like Typology for Graphic Design and Politics, Advertising, and Mass Media for Photography. They’d have an opportunity to study with photographers for the New York Times and National Geographic and with artists whose work is shown in museums across the globe.
Students who are not interested in art as a career path could continue to receive degrees from GW’s art department, but those who are more passionate would have the opportunity to take their studies to a higher level.
And a formal partnership between the schools would benefit Corcoran as well. Their students wouldn’t be burdened by GW’s expensive tuition costs. Not to mention that higher Corcoran enrollment means more tuition dollars for the institution – an essential factor in a time of shaky financial footing.
The idea of a partnership is one that is tried and true. Brown University has a dual-degree program with the Rhode Island School of Design, and Tufts University has one with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
GW has touted its political science and international affairs programs, and the strategic plan that will be finalized in February puts an emphasis on research. But if University administrators look to the schools they claim to emulate, they should realize that they are forgetting one thing: the arts. The strategic plan only mentioned the arts in reference to potential renovations to Lisner Auditorium.
Just like political-hopefuls and future diplomats, the painters, sculptors and photographers who attend school in the blocks between the Watergate Hotel and the World Bank should be able to find a comfortable home here as well.
The writer, a sophomore majoring in political communication, is The Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.