School of the Arts 2020-21 Academic Year
July 20, 2020
Dear New and Continuing Students:
After months of intense planning on the part of our faculty and staff, we look forward to welcoming you to Columbia University School of the Arts. On July 7th you received a message from President Bollinger announcing the University’s plan for the 2020-2021 academic year. The School of the Arts is aligning with this plan and with the University’s 2020-21 Academic Calendar, which allows for courses and production activities to occur over three terms. The Fall term begins on September 8th, the Spring term on January 11th, and the Summer term on May 3rd.
Each term is also divided into two equal-length A and B time frames. This provides flexibility for Programs to begin those core studio and production related activities that require on campus and in-person collaboration at the start of Fall B, on October 26th. These will continue through Summer A, which ends mid-June. MFA students in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts and Sound Art may also choose to engage in independent production and research through Summer B, which ends mid-August. MFA courses in the Writing Program will utilize the 14-week Fall and Spring semesters and most classes will be online. Film and Media Studies MA students will begin their studies in either the Fall or Spring semester, and may continue through Summer B.
We will conduct Orientation for incoming MFA students via Zoom starting the week of August 24th. As we begin the Fall term on September 8th, it is our expectation that courses will be offered in multiple formats. We know that while many of you want as much in-person instruction as possible, along with opportunities for in-person production in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts and Sound Art, others of you will prefer to access faculty, staff, courses and co-curricular events remotely. Our plan is to accommodate these preferences to the extent possible while adhering to all safety precautions.
In preparation, our classrooms, labs, and screening rooms are being equipped for hybrid learning, and faculty are also preparing to make all fall courses accessible online. Most co-curricular events will also remain accessible online for the Fall term. To the extent possible, classes have been scheduled in time blocks that provide maximum access across international time zones. Select courses, primarily lectures, and public programs, will be recorded to provide asynchronous access when possible, and film screenings will be available by streaming resources asynchronously.
When on campus, all School of the Arts students, faculty and staff will be expected to abide by the rigorous safety precautions established by Columbia including physical distancing, de-densified classrooms, labs and common areas, face coverings, daily self-health attestations, periodic testing, contact tracing and quarantining, if needed. For more information, please refer to the University’s COVID-19 Public Health Protocols and the COVID-19 Resource Guide, which is frequently updated. The new Columbia Community Health Compact encompasses a shared community pledge to abide by these safety protocols.
International students should contact the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) for guidance; continuing/current students can email firstname.lastname@example.org and new/incoming students can email email@example.com. For the most up to date information, visit the ISSO COVID-19 Newly Admitted Student FAQs, ISSO Student COVID-19 FAQs, and ISSO’s COVID-19 Hub.
Each of our graduate programs will provide students with more detailed information about its specific schedule of classes. Information about our undergraduate courses is available from Columbia College and the School of General Studies.
The School of the Arts faculty and staff are also committed to several initiatives to support diversity, promote inclusion, and to create safe spaces to reflect on and discuss the ways in which racism, privilege, and inequity impact our work and our community. These initiatives include facilitated workshops designed to help us learn from each other, to problem solve more effectively and ultimately to commit to change. The outrage and protests across the U.S. this summer were in response to the many abuses, injustices, and indignities perpetrated against people of color, particularly Black people. We know that many of you are suffering greatly as a result of all that has happened. It is a time for clear and strategic thinking about the future of this country and for open discussion and debate about the way forward. It is also a time to stand together as a community in kindness to each other, in recognition of difference, and always in the spirit of compassion.
We are very excited to welcome you to Columbia University School of the Arts this fall. We are determined to make this coming year the most effective and safe pedagogical experience possible. We will accomplish this together.
Be well and be safe.
Professor of the Arts
Dean of Columbia University School of the Arts