The University of Utah will become the first university to provide a Masters of Arts and Teaching Fine Arts Degree hybrid program.
The online and in-person courses are intended to allow current fine arts teachers to continue their education without sacrificing their jobs. After eight years of discussion and planning, the program is finally coming together.
Throughout the development of the degree, those involved in the process were entrenched in debate regarding what department to go through and how to classify the program. This past summer, the area head of art teaching at the U, Beth Krensky, made the push for the program to include all of the arts.
According to Kelby McIntyre-Martinez, the assistant dean for arts education in the college of fine arts, over the span of the past five to six years 300 people have expressed interest in the degree.
“Our alum have been asking for this,” McIntyre-Martinez said. “The school districts that we partner with, their arts educators and the Beverley Taylor Sorenson arts specialists have been inquiring about this, because they need extra skills in the arts, but they don’t want to have to quit their job to do it.”
Data collected by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project in 2013 shows that 89 percent of graduates in the arts at the U and 61 percent of U art undergraduates work or have worked as arts educators.The program is not only for teachers of the arts in the formal education system, but also for local artists.
“For community-based artists, I would tell them this is an exciting program, because they can specify in their art form, but they will work across art forms and also with colleagues that are in the schools and make new contacts,” McIntyre-Martinez said.
The program aims to produce more qualified teachers for youth in the arts, build bridges across fields and connect educators to each other.
“Arts education doesn’t look like it did even when I was in school where you go and you learn to sing pretty,” McIntyre-Martinez said. “That’s a part of it, but it’s also, how does music connect to engineering? How does music connect to health? And when you go to Primary Children’s, why do they have a pianist in the lobby when you walk in?”
The arts are constantly evolving and with them, so does training for art teachers.
“Arts education expands in so many different disciplines now, and the U is about that, cross-disciplinary work,” McIntyre-Martinez said. “Even though you might come with your theater background, we want you to be able to work with dancers, musicians, scientists and engineers.”