As the fall 2021 semester begins, the university is welcoming six new majors, including games studies and esports, jazz, and improvisation. These majors have just been finalized but both have been in the works for years.
The idea of a jazz major began over two decades ago when the jazz minor was created in 1990. Although it took many years, the jazz and improvisation major began to take shape in the fall 2019, Tom Palmer, assistant professor of jazz and percussion, says.
Miles Brown, adjunct jazz professor, attributes the push for a major in jazz and improvisation to the “growing cultural and racial awareness” that has developed during the pandemic and the lack of representation of music outside of music. white european classic.
“I think in part because of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the many other people who were unjustly killed,” Brown said. “It brought this realization in people’s minds that black culture as well as black music and black art was important and was missing from many university programs.”
The major will move away from the classical European musical model and focus on jazz and improvisation across a wide range of cultures and timeframes.
“Our program is unique to UD. It’s different from other schools in that we try to be a bit broader rather than specifically [focused on] jazz improvisation,” Brown said. “Many other schools tend to focus on a style of music called bebop, which only really happened between 1945 and 1955, so it’s very focused”
The program will follow a typical eight-semester catalog and offers students the flexibility to customize their courses to suit their needs. The objective of the courses is to prepare students to reflect and master the art of improvisation.
There are different routes to enter after earning a degree in jazz and improvisation, including doctorates in jazz studies or working as musicians.
“You get a jazz degree and you can try to be a successful jazz musician,” Brown said. “Some people go to New York; some people go to Los Angeles to act in movies. A lot of people go on cruise ships and play on cruise ships for a while.
The Game Studies and Esports major followed a similar path in its development. The major’s co-founders Philip Penix-Tadsen, associate professor of Spanish literature and cultures, and Rachael Hutchinson, associate professor of Japanese studies, spent just over a decade creating the major.
Penix-Tadsen and Hutchinson proposed their first research study on video games just over 11 years ago, and their research eventually led to the creation of the minor in game studies in 2015. After another four years, they started collaborating with professors to create the game. studies and esports major in early 2019.
The major will consist of six core classes: Introduction to Art and Design for Games, Introduction to Programming in Games, a second Computer Science class, Introduction to Game Development, Introduction to Game Studies, which was developed and taught by Penix-Tadsen, introduction to esports management and introduction to writing for games. These six courses, along with an internship and a capstone, are all newly created aspects of the program.
The major will also have three focus areas: Game Design and Development, which will prepare students to code and develop their own games, Games Culture and Society, which analyzes video games from different cultural perspectives and will include courses such as gender, violence and the media. and Game Industry and esports Management, which focuses on the economics of esports while simultaneously preparing students to become professional esports players.
“We love for students to critically look at video games, think critically about something they might take for granted as just entertainment, and think about other ways video games can be used for activism. policy or could be used to train surgeons or could be used to preserve indigenous languages,” Penix-Tadsen said.
The major is unique because of its interconnections between different colleges and its ability to be tailored to students’ professional goals.
“We have nine different programs and three different colleges. We have the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering and the Lerner Business College,” Penix-Tadsen said. “It’s very rare actually because there are very few majors that are so interdisciplinary in nature that it makes sense to put all these things together.”
The impacts of these two majors on the university community remain to be seen.