UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Randy Ploog, the recently retired coordinator of international programs for the College of Arts and Architecture, developed AA100: Introduction to International Arts as the foundation course for the international arts minor, he did not anticipate that it would become a popular general education course. Then again, he also did not think that he would be shepherding it into a new online format as his last project before he retired.
“Initially, I was allowed a year and a half to develop the course, which incorporated all of the disciplines in the college,” noted Ploog. “I had to call upon colleagues and spend time researching how to make it work, after which I taught it for 15 years — two or three times each year, fall, spring, summer, and even a few years for Learning Edge Academic Program (LEAP). Teaching it so many times helped because it was evolving so quickly that I was able to refine it throughout those years,” noted Ploog.
AA100 is a course that combines art history, music, theatre and architecture in a way that is accessible for non-majors. Not only does it satisfy a general education requirement, but it also provides students with a chance to engage with cultures around the world through art and design.
This semester's students are currently in the process of completing their final projects, in which they curate a tour based on a theme or region that intrigues them. Every other week during the semester, students submitted an artifact for their tour to help develop the skills they are learning in the course and helping them understand and appreciate another culture. Student progress and enthusiasm has made the first session of the revamped course a success.