On Monday, August 18, 70 graduate students from around the world gathered in Kellen Auditorium to make up The School of Art and Design History and Theory’s incoming Class of 2016. The program will be home to 35 new students in Fashion Studies (FS), 14 in Design Studies (DS), and 21 in The History of Decorative Arts and Design (HDAD).
The intellectual motor behind the incoming class lies in the multiplicity of their cultural and academic outlooks. Director of Design Studies Susan Yelavich, whose students collectively come from 11 different countries, says she is delighted to have such an influx of perspectives, as Design Studies is “a field quite diverse in itself.” The students of Design Studies hail from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds, including communication design, product design, engineering, architecture, philosophy, community activism, and aesthetics.
Sarah Lichtman, who is in charge of the History of Decorative Arts and Design program, is excited to be greeting such an array of excellence, particularly as the fall semester coincides with the reopening of the recently renovated Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. Part of the students’ first-week orientation included introductory tours with the museum’s curators and collections.
With all of their accepted students deciding to join the program, Fashion Studies’s incoming cohort marks a 40% increase in the program’s size (the 35 new students will be joining 25 second-years). Coming from the world of political campaigns and Silicon Valley startups, Adelle McElveen says, “When I graduated from college in 2006 this program (MA Fashion Studies) didn’t exist yet. A lot of things didn’t exist that we have now, or if they did exist they weren’t as widely known.”
Others are joining Fashion Studies directly out of their undergraduate studies. Having just graduated from The New School’s Eugene Lang Liberal Arts College, Colin Bedell appreciates the enlarged sense of autonomy on the graduate level: “I’ve observed a climate that suggests the ADHT faculty receives graduate students as colleagues.” Following his second day of orientation, he notes, “I just discovered today that we have access to American Vogue’s online archive, which is incredible. There’s a $1,500+ annual subscription fee attached to that service, but because I’m a Parsons student, I can peruse every single issue of American Vogue absolutely free.”