Theatre, Dance, and Media concentration is a small department from only 21 students in Harvard, housed in Farkas Hall, named for noted alum and donor Andrew Farkas. A lower amount of people allows for a personal touch and attention. The individual attention the department gets is good for the motivation of students one of them noted. Julia E. Belanoff is 18, and she attended National Theatre Institute.
Action and Reaction
One of her peers, Sam. A. Hagen who is in the same age group expressed a similar idea. He praised Harvard’s investment in the growth of this concentration of not in number, then in recognition. The sentiment is that growth should be in quality not in quantity. Keeping the numbers relatively small will not disrupt the flow and current camaraderie between students.
He also said that the energy and resources Harvard directs towards the group helps to improve it.
The President of Harvard University voiced his support to humanities in general as well as the concentration individually. His offer was seed funding from discretionary fund and allowed the 5 million dollars to help start the concentration in the first place. It meant taking a risk because the hardest part is getting the balance just right between the theoretical and the practical aspect of a concentration of any description.
Combination of Theory and Practice
The idea itself was great. Including an academic, historical, literary study of theatre, dance and media with on the side of the theoretical knowledge and then putting this knowledge to practice was going to be the biggest challenge. The two things cannot overshadow one another and need to be in the balance so one of them doesn’t suffer.
Traditionally practical and theoretical sides are separated from one another. The department stayed open minded to possible solutions to this problem.
Students struggled with formulating their thesis and research questions. The members of staff weren’t sure what the amalgamated thesis would look like so the students had to utilize their negotiation skills. It taught them to become independent very shortly after arriving at the university. There was no clear path, so they had to find their ways.
One of the cons to this issue would be the trouble of finding guidance from the professors who are learning on the as well. It can become confusing for the students and lay brickwork for desperation and stress. On the other hand, this is the exact situation where the peer support kicks in.
This innovation in education was met with enthusiasm, and the students involved expressed their love and appreciation for the freedom.