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Arts students pose in front of a mural


Creative practice as personal expression and social commentary


Art—in its infinite forms, functions and implications—is the most accessible and universal way of constructing meaning out of the world we inhabit.

The Arts Scholars program helps students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role that art plays in society and in history. Through a mix of lectures, discussions, demonstrations, collaborative art-making and interactions with guest artists, students consider:

  • How art can help us uncover our past and more readily imagine the possibilities of the future;
  • How and why art may be used to make an impact or send a message; and
  • What different works of art, and personal reactions to them, may signify.

Students will be challenged to conceptualize, articulate and present original ideas through a variety of methods, getting firsthand experience in creative problem-solving and project execution. Ultimately, students will strengthen their personal artistic skill and learn to appreciate a broad spectrum of art disciplines. 

The Arts Scholars program attracts a diverse student population from a range of academic disciplines. No matter their area of artistic interest or skill level, students will find themselves immersed in a collaborative learning environment.

Colloquium and Lecture Topics

  • What is art? What is “good” art? Understanding social definitions of art and their influence on artistic taste. 
  • How can we leverage the influence of artistic practice to constructively comment on the depth of our differences, our shared commonalities, and the nuances of identity as individuals and community members?
  • What does research look like in the arts? Exploring common methods of creative and artistic research in the professional world.
  • In what ways can we embrace creative approaches to identify, address and bring clarity to the societal challenges faced by “you,” “us,” “them” or “other”?
  • How can art reshape or recontextualize understanding of our (individual and societal) learned history, biases and beliefs? How can it make visible the invisible?
  • West African djembe: Exploring the role of music in community building, storytelling and cultural understanding

I have been challenged to think differently, work cooperatively, embrace creativity and, most importantly, go beyond the limits I have set for myself. Because of this program, I can confidently say I feel infinitely more prepared for the “real world,” and for that confidence and growth, I could never be more grateful.

Alexandra Curry
Alexandra Curry, '22

Other Learning Opportunities

A variety of learning opportunities supplements the Arts curriculum. As an Arts Scholar, you will be introduced to artists, professional ensembles and world-class institutions each semester, through workshops led by guest artists; attendance at live performances in Washington, DC, New York City and on campus; and visits to the Smithsonian's renowned art and history museums.

In addition, you will get a chance to:

  • Conceptualize, execute and present a capstone project of your choosing during your second year;
  • Participate in service-learning with local schools and arts nonprofit organizations; and
  • Cultivate valuable leadership and communication skills through peer mentoring and peer teaching opportunities.

Curriculum Overview

Over the two-year program experience (four semesters), students will complete up to 6 credits of supporting courses that will count toward your Arts Scholars citation. In most cases, these will also fulfill General Education requirements. Note that your Scholars courses—colloquiums, capstone practicum and supporting courses—will generally be in addition to any courses you take to satisfy major requirements.

The following represents a typical two-year curriculum, but individual schedules may vary. Details about courses and requirements can be found on the Arts Citation Checklist. 

Freshman Fall Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Academic Writing (can be taken either Freshman Fall or Spring semesters) 3 credits
Arts Service Learning (Optional) 2 credits
2–4 courses toward degree and major requirements (including possible supporting course) 6–12 credits
Freshman Spring Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Arts Service Learning (Optional) 2 credits
3–5 courses toward degree and major requirements (including possible supporting course) 9–15 credits
Sophomore Fall Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
4–5 courses toward degree and major requirements (including possible supporting course) 12–15 credits
Sophomore Spring Scholars Colloquium 1 credit
Scholars Capstone 2 credits
4–5 courses toward degree and major requirements (including possible supporting course if not already completed) 12–15 credits

Sponsoring College 

College of Arts and Humanities

Residence Hall

Bel Air Hall

Office Address

1110 Bel Air Hall

Office Phone



Portrait of Harold Burgess

Harold Burgess

Program Director, Arts
Portrait of Heather Bremenstuhl

Heather Bremenstuhl

Associate Director, Arts
Portrait of Alex Lynch

Alex Lynch

Graduate Assistant, Arts

Social Media, Etc.

Arts News

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