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Spring 2021 Academics

Our academic program planning to date has consistently been guided by dedication to the health and safety of our community, continuing our highest-quality education, and remaining a sustainable university. We learned many lessons in the fall that will be carried into the spring semester, making another phased approach to campus unnecessary.

As you wrap up for the fall and get ready for the spring term, please keep the following details in mind:

  • Be mindful of all possible scenarios for when classes resume in January. We are hopeful for a bright start to the semester, but need to be prepared for potential infection rate spikes that may force a campus closure or delayed (hybrid) openings; plan ahead and bring your essential items home with you for the break in case this happens. The kits the College sent out in the fall are intended to equip you with the essentials for completing coursework wherever you are. We cannot guarantee any level of access if another shutdown is imposed by the public health authorities. In that event all courses would revert to remote delivery. Be prepared and give thought to what you need to take with you over the break!
  • Classes will resume on Monday, January 25th, with both hybrid and remote classes started on that date. Be sure to check email and/or contact your instructor to see if there are special instructions for the first class meeting.
  • Refer to the Campus Health and Safety section of this spring planning update for guidance on protocols for returning to campus for the spring semester.
  • We are starting later in January to provide more time for testing prior to arrival back on campus, for positive cases from holiday gatherings to surface, and to allow more time for possible vaccine based solutions to come forward. As a result of the late start there will be no Spring Break. This extra precaution also helps to limit further exposures from travel and new social environments, and ensures fewer interruptions to classes and learning.
  • Fixed access such as on campus class meetings and majors studio access will begin with the start of classes on Monday, January 25th. The scheduling tool (link) will continue for requesting weekly access to studios, shops, and study spaces. Scheduling for weekly access to spaces will begin on Monday, February 1st, and the Campus Access Scheduling Tool will be activated on Sunday, January 24th (through January 28th) for scheduling time the week of February 1st. Requests for recurring study space access may be made prior to the start of the semester by contacting
  • There are no substantive changes to space use for the spring semester from what was implemented in the fall semester. Most studio and classroom assignments will remain in place with only a few exceptions. Specifics about departmental plans are located in the "department notes" (link) section below.
  • As in the fall, spring access to campus will be done in a planned, scheduled way that helps us track access and control the number of individuals across campus.

Below are notes about Hybrid and Remote learning by major. Please review the descriptions provided by the chair of each department.


    • Hybrid classes alternate between remote and on-campus, or otherwise in person, meetings. Those scheduled in-person meetings are required for the full duration of the semester according to the campus-wide attendance policy, and are not simulcast for remote attendance. Hybrid classes will meet at least 5 - 6 sessions in person on campus. Please refer to section syllabi and communication from individual faculty for details.
    • Liberal Arts curriculum for Spring 2021 will be offered remotely. Courses will be thoughtfully and intentionally designed in alignment with best practices for remote instruction. Faculty will use a range of digital resources including Moodle, Google Classroom, Zoom, and other technologies to facilitate student learning and engagement according to individual subject areas and course outcomes.
    • All MassArt Animation courses will again be conducted remotely for the spring 2021 semester. Curriculum and learning goals remain largely the same, while the delivery modes will be customized for each course. The use of scheduled class time will vary, but in general students can expect a mix of real time critique of student works in-progress, both in class and out of class screenings and conversation, lectures, student work time, assignment explanation and demonstrations. Asynchronous feedback and communication will occur between class meetings as needed either through written or recorded feedback. Teaching and learning remotely will be incorporated into course offerings as an ongoing lesson on how to more effectively work remotely in the field of animation.
    • The fall semester provided an opportunity to test many ways to connect, learn and teach with faculty and students each providing bridges to learning. New protocols for workspaces and a new satellite woodshop has made it possible to safely work together, and more importantly, reminded us that our department collaborates as a team. This spring, our studios continue as combined in-person and remote instruction, with broad access to these workspaces outside of class.

      We propose to collaborate across our courses, bring in visitors through our remote class sessions, and reach out to organizations and practitioners as a way to connect our academic work with contemporary practice. Looking through a social, political, cultural and racial lens, course topics this spring span across rural and urban housing, education, healthcare and community spaces. Research agendas connect neighborhoods and people, civic and public spaces, and investigate issues from climate resiliency to design details. Our goal is to navigate the current challenges of this moment, remain curious, explore opportunities, and propose solutions that activate an equitable and socially just future.

      To look at this year in review, we plan to end the spring with a symposium that examines our work in the context of contemporary social fabrics. We invite all members of our department, including visitors to the institution, to collaborate during this one-day retreat when we share our history, reflect on the year, and imagine the ways in which we can make positive change through our future work. Join us! Tuesday Talks are in full swing! Contact the department for details.
    • The Art Education Department has adapted its course offerings so that all courses will occur remotely with the exception of some internship/student teaching placements for some students in their final semester. All of our Art Education Studio Courses will be remote, but students enrolled in such courses can opt to access their assigned on-campus studios to complete their coursework.

      Our courses will be designed thoughtfully, using best practices for remote teaching to ensure student learning. At the heart of our work, we will continue to value social justice and adaptive pedagogy in this challenging time. Our hearts are with you all as we navigate these new terrains with the strength of togetherness.
    • The MassArt Communication Design program will offer classes remotely in spring 2021. All assignments have been adjusted to accommodate digital creation and delivery. Reviews for all students will be held online.
    • The Fashion Design Department intends to offer a combination of hybrid style courses that will involve both an on-campus and remote learning structure as well as courses that will run in a completely remote format. We will continue to provide structured studio access to enable students to work at designated times. During these times students will have access to sewing machines, dress forms, drafting tables, and irons. The Fashion Design Dept. will continue to offer on-campus tutor support at specific times throughout the week. The Fashion Resource Center will still be able to provide supplies for purchase as needed for students. For innovative use of virtual space, classes are looking to include guest lecturers, collaborative learning modules, demos, webinars from the industry, small group exercises, access to WGSN, and other online resources pertinent to the industry.
    • FA2D, Painting and Printmaking has created courses that allow students to be in classes that are entirely remote, in-person, or are in-person for some students and remote for others. Each class and instructor uses varying ratios of hands on to digital learning methodology and content. All FA2D courses have a flexible syllabus that allows each class to respond and adjust to evolving health and safety conditions. Current conditions will require that we continue our present structure for the spring semester 2021. The college and the FA2D faculty and staff are focused on learning outcomes and committed to offering quality remote and hybrid classes. Our hybrid in person courses foreground safe access to undergraduate and graduate elective classrooms and studios.
    • At this time, the faculty, studio managers and administration are offering a structure that allows for a safe return into many of the studios, shops and classrooms in the 3D program. By opening up new spaces for physical distancing by shifting many courses to remote or hybrid remote/on-campus formats, many of our core 3D studios are accessible for in-person classes and scheduled access outside of class. We are working on creating additional scheduled opportunities for faculty, staff and students to be on-campus as safety permits. Many of the processes in 3D require strict personal protective gear and protocols that align well with those for protection against COVID 19. If you have any questions at this time, please feel free to reach out.
    • Film/Video is actively exploring pedagogical methodologies that will best prepare our students for the post-pandemic world. The health and safety of our community members are a high priority. Equally important is providing access to the tools necessary to meet our teaching and learning goals. Students will have access to various innovative remote technologies, including Amazon Appstream Virtual Desktop, Wipster and Editshare, among others. We have assembled production equipment kits for each class year and course. Students will have scheduled access to equipment as well as production and editing studios.
    • As our primary concern is safety, our courses will be taught remotely, with the hope that at some point soon we will be triumphantly welcomed back to our classrooms in the flesh. Several of us will accentuate an asynchronous model, while most of us will be doing at least some real-time teaching via Zoom, GoogleMeet, etc. All of us will use and be available for our assigned class periods. And as local museums reopen, we will be working with them to return safely for class visits and firsthand study of works of art.
    • During the Spring’21 semester, the majority of illustration courses will be offered remotely, with the same expected high curriculum standards and learning outcomes. As the Illustration Department strongly supports the belief that everything hinges on traditional and digital skills, the delivery of courses will be tailored to the particular needs of every course: critiques in real times of students’ work in progress and finals, synchronous and asynchronous demonstrations, lectures and guest speakers. Between classes, students can expect additional input and support, which could be a combination of written feedback and asynchronous demonstrations, adjusted to course requirements as needed. The only exception from conducting courses remotely will be made for the CDIL 211 Human Figure in Illustration and CDIL 304 Advanced Drawing Projects - as both courses will be offered in two models: remote and hybrid (scheduled concurrently), with the intention to provide students an option of drawing the human figure from observation. Additionally, the elective CDIL 313 Experimental Illustration will be offered in hybrid model only, due to a required hands-on, on campus presence. The hybrid courses will meet on campus every other week and classes will be divided between two adjacent classrooms to provide social distancing.
    • The Industrial Design Department is working through various teaching scenarios for the in-person engagement aspects of our curriculum and for maintaining our user-centered design philosophy . We are developing hybrid classes to deliver studio-based learning, while incorporating remote class meetings, as well as asynchronous instructional resources where possible. The hybrid courses will meet both on-campus and remotely with the actual schedule dictated by the course calendar and occupancy load on the studio and will support students that wish to engage totally remotely. Several of our courses can accommodate a full migration to remote delivery. We are working to offer scheduled studio spaces for all students to access on campus when not in class as well as a virtual platform to support community building between students, faculty, and industry. Essential tools and technology requirements will be outlined and provided prior to the start of the semester with ongoing assistance throughout the semester to assure effective course work engagement when off-campus. Also, design materials kits will be created to support each student based on their level in the program and their curricular needs.
    • The Photography Department will teach classes remotely while making the labs and studios available to students on a scheduled basis who choose to use them. Using the labs will not be required for the curriculum so that we do not penalize students who prefer to limit their time on campus. We will continue using the platform Basecamp as our departmental avatar and we will continue to connect with students individually and collectively as much as possible via Zoom and Hangout. We are developing ways of having prints made remotely and we will provide kits with supplies as necessary. For the Spring 2021 semester, the curriculum will not require use of darkrooms but they may be available for student use.
    • The Studio for Interrelated Media will continue to be a laboratory for traditional and innovative methods in the presentation of contemporary artwork. This spring, instead of a single "Big Show" SIM Department exhibition, the department is expanding its production experiments to embrace the online, virtual exhibition space in a series of hybrid productions using a variety of webcast technologies. Most of the SIM elective courses will be delivered remotely. A distributed training in techniques for sound studio, performance, graphics, programming and concept development will continue, supported with the necessary software and hardware "kits". Content created in the elective courses will contribute to the hybrid productions of the Major Studio course, which may include periodic on-campus recording of sets and performance with small numbers of students, faculty and staff, assuming this can be done safely.
    • In graduate studies, the current plan is to have our five residential MFA programs (Photography, Film/Video, 2-D, 3-D, and Dynamic Media) as well as our Master of Architecture and Master of Design Innovation programs return to campus using a hybrid approach. The campus will be considered a facilities resource, to be used for studio and lab support and/or for classes where the face-to-face or hands on approach is a necessity. Our Low residency MFA will be fully online, as is standard for the programs in the spring semester. For our TPP certification, MA, and MAT programs, students will be primarily learning remotely. Student Teaching Practicum and Saturday Studios will be online. For Spring 2021, we are considering an alternating studio schedule for graduate students, giving each student scheduled access each week and allowing for physical distancing and regular sanitizing of the space. We will continue to monitor CDC and state-wide health and safety guidelines and adapt our studio access plan accordingly. We are committed to keeping our students, faculty, and staff safe while supporting the academic and artistic progress of our graduate students.