Critical and Visual Studies, the Liberal Arts B.A. major at Pratt Institute

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Critical and Visual Studies
The Liberal Arts B.A. at Pratt Institute

Critical and Visual Studies is a Bachelor of Arts program for curious and imaginative students who want to pursue uniquely individualized studies in the liberal arts and sciences while immersed in Pratt’s environment of creative openness and intellectual experimentation.

Anchored in the Department of Social Science and Cultural Studies, our program features an innovative curriculum that provides a broad foundation in the classic and contemporary works of the social sciences, philosophy, history, critical theory, and visual studies. Students choose from a generous selection of electives and concentrations from within the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and across the Institute in architecture, art history, art and design, and planning. In the third and Senior years, students enjoy a variety of electives while focusing on their concentrations, Minors, and Senior Thesis projects.

At the core of the program is the understanding that the integration of theory, method, and experience is crucial to learning and this brings vitality, creativity, and practical application to intellectual practice. Our students and faculty are interested in every aspect of social life—from street art to political systems, from international media to the global economy. Critical and Visual Studies provides an unique interdisciplinary framework within which our students explore the social, political, and artistic meanings of cultural and aesthetic production.

Because of our unique context within a world renowned institution of art, design and architecture, our students pursue their studies in a stimulating atmosphere of intellectual and artistic innovation. Our structure allows students many opportunities to take electives in the traditional studio arts as well as in new media. Our students work in a variety of media, developing their critical skills and working experimentally to integrate image, sound, and text. Pratt's location in New York City allows students and faculty to be enthusiastic participants in the dynamic array of cultural events and institutions that make up everyday life in New York City.

Your studies in the Critical and Visual Studies major will give you:
*A critical understanding of culture that is grounded in philosophy, history, the social sciences, and humanities.

*Comprehension of critical social theory, analytical structures, techniques of communication, and familiarity with a range of research methods and perspectives in understanding the natural and social worlds.

*An understanding of the interconnections and dependencies of the various and diverse fields of human inquiry, artistic endeavor, and cultural, social, and political life.

*An appreciation of the aesthetic achievements of cinema/film, literature, poetry, and the visual arts.

*A critical sense of your ethical, social, and political responsibilities and of the world’s diverse cultures and communities.

*Meaningful access to the historical past both for its own sake and to think creatively about the future, i.e., to learn to learn.

*The ability to develop and critically integrate written, oral, visual, and spatial expression.

*The flexibility to pursue both in-depth studies as well as opportunities to make links between academic work and the working world through internships in cultural institutions, especially non-profit arts and public service agencies.

*A faculty whose scholarship and teaching is on the cutting edge of social and cultural criticism and analysis.
The faculty is dedicated to providing our students with an education that helps them to learn how to think clearly, logically, skeptically, critically, and above all, for themselves. We emphasize the liberal arts in order to provide our graduates with a foundation for life-long learning. Our graduates have the critical and analytical skills to move seamlessly between changing economic sectors and evolving career paths in the future economy

Our faculty’s diverse teaching and research interests include philosophy, sociology, ethnography, cultural studies, media studies, globalization, imperialism, colonialism and post-colonialism, critical theory, psychology, gender and sexuality, world history, history and historiography, cinema and documentary film, literature and creative writing, theater and performance studies, landscape and space, environmental studies, sustainability, and the sociology of science and technology.

The Department of Social Science & Cultural Studies sponsors a number of events that underscore the our emphasis on the critical understanding of culture and the social world of art and social life. The nature and format of our events respond to changing student and faculty interests. Some long running events and series include:

Lectures, Forums and Speaker Series as well as the department’s regular Scholar-In-Residence appointment bring renowned scholars, intellectuals, and artists from around the world together with our students in large lectures and intimate seminars. Past speakers and Scholars-In-Residence include: Susan Buck-Morss, Patricia Clough, Alain Badiou, Stanley Aronowitz, Susan Meiselas, Gyan Prakash, Randy Martin, Martha Rosler, Nora Alter, Vicente Rafael, Gina Dent, Saidiya Hartman, Sukhdev Sandhu, Deborah Willis Anna Grimshaw, Robin Blackburn, Juan Cole, Tina Campt, Jim Czarnecki, Claudio Lomnitz, David Harvey, Nona Shepphard, Brendan Fernandes, Silvia Federici, and Franco Berardi Bifo.

The Wallabout Film Festival is a student film festival produced and curated by an interdisciplinary team of students from Pratt Institute. Showcasing films by innovative student filmmakers from around the world, Wallabout is a platform for students to screen their work to a diverse community of peers, artists and industry professionals, initiating conversation and collaboration. It has become an important platform for supporting student film making and for adding to the vibrant creative culture of Brooklyn.

Film Screenings are designed to be provocative forums for current issues and timely debates. Filmmakers accompany their film screenings and address interested students after the screenings, making for lively discussions that extend beyond the classroom. Students and faculty are also active in the Pratt Film Society and Pratt Radio (WPIR).

Field trips and “Slow-Art-Days” provide opportunities to see current museum and gallery exhibitions; to network with artists, architects, designers, critics and curators; and to engage with the city at large.

Senior Thesis Readings are public presentations by seniors of their thesis research. These events give seniors perspective on this period of their intellectual development and the opportunity to present their work to the public.

Visit the link below for admissions requirements or to apply online. We look forward to reviewing your applications!

For more information, please visit our official page at:

BA Program in Critical & Visual Studies
Department of Social Science & Cultural Studies
School of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Pratt Institute
200 Willoughby Ave.
Brooklyn, N.Y. 11205

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