Diversify fine arts minors

Megan Tran

According to a 2019 poll, 93% of Americans believe anyone can benefit from having a creative outlet regardless of their age. Unfortunately, 70% of those polled indicated they have difficulty prioritizing time to be creative as they get older.

This lack of prioritization of the arts is evident at UT, as the College of Fine Arts offers only three minors: art history minor, minor in arts management and administration and minor in studio art. These minors encompass only a small portion of fine arts disciplines and notably exclude interests such as performing arts and graphic arts. 

To foster creative interests in students, the College of Fine Arts must offer a more diverse range of minors.  

John Turci-Escobar, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the College of Fine Arts, explained in an email the difficulties that can arise when the college attempts to implement new academic minors.

“(Some) areas of study call for smaller class sizes with more individualized attention,” Turci-Escobar said. “The department may not have the resources to add additional course sections or hire additional faculty to accommodate students outside the major.”

While limited resource availability is always a concern, UT needs to be more proactive in supporting the fine arts among its students and as a field of study. The University has a history of underfunding the arts as a first response to budget cuts, and this must be rectified.

The traditional subsets of the fine arts include literature, visual arts, graphic arts, plastic arts, decorative arts, performing arts, music composition and architecture.

Certainly, it would be unreasonable to expect UT to offer minors in every aspect of the arts. However, the three minors currently offered are insufficient to support students interested in more mainstream disciplines such as music, theater and dance.

Roman Panah, a government freshman, expressed dissatisfaction over the lack of a theater minor offered by the College of Fine Arts.

“I wanted (a theater minor) to diversify my experiences as a government major,” Panah said. “I feel like I’m not being encouraged to explore my creativity, like (the University is) pushing me to do something else, and that disappoints me.”  

Failing to prioritize fine arts studies at the university level often comes at the expense of a student’s ability to foster interdisciplinary interests and develop crucial creative and innovative skills.

Although STEM fields are often prioritized over the arts, an education that intersects disciplines from both areas can have clear benefits for students and in their eventual careers.

For instance, the manual dexterity that dentists require can be fostered by a strong background in woodcarving or playing a musical instrument. Engineers who can sketch are able to create representative 2D drawings of 3D objects.

Students interested in the fine arts may not want to pursue a career in these fields, and that’s understandable. In addition, many students have rigorous course loads that may not allow them the flexibility to take courses that do not advance their degrees. 

However, for students who are interested in acquiring experience in a fine arts field without the full commitment of a major, the option of a minor should be available. 

Giving students the opportunity to earn a minor in fine arts disciplines that simultaneously develop their interests and cultivate valuable skills must be a priority for the University. Thus, UT must expand the minors offered by the College of Fine Arts to create a more diverse selection for students. 

Tran is a Plan II and English freshman from Houston, Texas.