Visual and Environmental Studies

The principal educational goal of the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies (VES) is to provide students in a liberal arts college with an opportunity to gain an understanding of visual quality and expression through both study and practice. The aim is to achieve an understanding of the structure and meaning of the visual arts and culture through practical and theoretical explorations of media such as drawing, film, painting, performance, photography, printmaking, sculpture, sound, video, and writing. In addition to offering a regular concentration in these areas, the department also offers students the opportunity to explore VES as a secondary field. Specifically, the secondary field offerings reflect the department's diversity by providing students with four distinct areas of focus. In each area a total of six courses are required; however, each area has its own set of requirements and students may choose only one area when filing for a secondary field. Ordinarily, secondary field credit is only granted for courses taken in residence. To count courses from outside of VES, students must petition the department prior to taking the course.

REQUIREMENTS: 6 courses (24 credits)

Film/Video

Visual and Environmental Studies offers a secondary field in film/video production. Courses in film, video, and animation may be arranged in any combination to maximize each student's interests. This field is imagined to be of particular value as a complement to disciplines that include the study of culture—such as anthropology or area studies—where the moving image can be used as a tool for observation and research.

Four VES courses in film or video making; at least one course should be introductory-level and at least one should be intermediate-level.

Two courses in the history or theory of the moving image offered in the VES department.

Film and Visual Studies

Visual and Environmental Studies offers a secondary field in film and visual studies for students wishing to explore the history and aesthetics of moving image media in conjunction with other disciplines in the arts and humanities.

Resolutely interdisciplinary in its impetus, this track offers rigorous training in film and visual studies with a blend of theoretical, analytical, and historical perspectives.  It is designed to cultivate critical awareness and analytical understanding regarding the place of moving images within larger histories and their connections both to traditional and emerging arts, disciplines, and fields of endeavor.  To this end, film and visual studies draws on the unique strengths of VES and FAS faculty, the Harvard Film Archive’s vast holdings of films and documents, and the rich resources of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts and the Harvard Art Museums.

  1. Introductory Courses: Two courses comprising Visual and Environmental Studies 70, “The Art of Film” and one other double-digit seminar or lecture course in film and visual studies.
  2. Four additional courses in film and visual studies offered in the VES department. Courses in film theory and other approved film and visual studies courses may be obtained from the Manager of Academic Programs.

Studio

Four studio courses (of the student's choosing) in drawing, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and video/installation art; at least one course should be introductory-level, and one should be intermediate-level.

Two lectures or seminars in art history or theory, ordinarily offered by the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies. One art history or theory course offered in the Department of History of Art and Architecture may also be counted with VES department approval.

Students can review the VES secondary field requirements checklist on the VES Department website under the "Forms" section in the "Undergraduates" menu.

OTHER INFORMATION

Courses in the studio arts and film/video production are, of necessity, small and intensive, and priority is given to concentrators. Additionally, some courses in environmental studies also have an enrollment limit. Students wishing to pursue any of these areas as a secondary field are welcome to apply to limited-enrollment classes, but will not be given preferential access to them.

All secondary field courses must be taken for a letter grade with the exception of a Freshman Seminar given by a VES faculty member. There is no minimum grade for counting courses for the secondary field.

Harvard Summer School and study abroad courses taught by department faculty may count towards the secondary field. Students may petition the department to count, at most, one related study abroad or summer school course taught by non-department faculty by submitting a course requirement substitution form, available from the Manager of Academic Programs or on the department's website. Approval occurs after the course is completed and the syllabus and work are reviewed by the Director of Undergraduate Studies. It is therefore advisable to check with the Director of Undergraduate Studies before making plans.

Up to one related cross-listed course may count toward the secondary field.

ADVISING RESOURCES AND EXPECTATIONS

Both the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Ruth Lingford (Lingford@fas.harvard.edu) and the Manager of Academic Programs, Paula Soares (soares@fas.harvard.edu), advise students pursuing a secondary field in VES. Students do not declare a secondary field through the department as they do when applying for a concentration, but it is recommended that the students use the secondary fields web tool to indicate their interest in the VES secondary field. To be added to the department's mailing list and to receive information about courses and events in the department, students should also inform the Manager of Academic Programs of their interest in the VES secondary field.