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PARSONS > First-Year Curriculum

First-Year Curriculum


The first-year course sequence aims to provide a foundational experience in art and design to entering freshmen that is akin to the current Foundation program course sequence but allows greater flexibility.

In the common first-year experience, students have the opportunity to select options from within the first-year studio courses (Space/Materiality, Drawing/Imaging, and Time). Students may choose to explore broadly or to seek out courses inflected by their disciplinary interests. This opportunity to make choices within the first year aligns with the flexibility that is an important aspect of the larger curriculum redesign, allowing for students to experience a variety of pathways through Parsons.

The learning outcomes of the first-year courses are linked meaningfully with those of the remaining three years, providing a fuller four-year staging of learning (see program-specific 4-year curriculum charts). Parsons will launch the new curriculum in stages, offering only the freshman curriculum in the first year, the freshman and sophomore curricula in the second year, and so on, until the four-year curriculum is fully rolled out. The current curriculum will be taught through the senior year of the class that enters in Fall 2012 (see the timeline for details of the roll-out).

The first-year curricular framework will allow students to matriculate into any program without penalty, regardless of how broadly they have explored other disciplines, or how closely they have followed a particular disciplinary practice within the first year.

First Year F S
PUFY 1000 Integrative Studio 1 and PUFY 1010 Integrated Seminar 1 (6 hours + 3 hours)

This course pairing brings together writing, reading, and making through projects that draw on creative and critical skills in a liberal arts and studio context. In Integrative Studio, students create projects that involve collaboration, cross-disciplinary activity, research, and prototyping. In Integrative Seminar, they develop essential reading and writing skills that help them connect text and visual elements, a practice central to art and design. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

6 -
PUFY 1100 Sustainable Systems* (3 hours)

This course focuses on the scientific and social issues related to the design of resilient urban futures. Sustainable Systems provides students with a foundational knowledge of the constraints, challenges, and opportunities presented by the need to design products, systems, and services that are more environmentally and economically sustainable. The course structure combines five sequenced lectures and field trips with ten studio-based workshops, prompting discussions and context-based learning while also creating opportunities to translate fieldwork into design work.

3 -
First-Year Studio: PUFY 1020 Space/Materiality** (6 hours)

In this six-hour studio, students become familiar with the methods and tools used to investigate and manipulate space and materials. In Parsons' modeling facilities, studio classrooms, and shops, they explore form, connections between making and thinking, and properties of space and materials such as weight, texture, color, durability, life cycle, and ecological impact. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

3 -
First-Year Studio: PUFY 1030 Drawing/Imaging** (6 hours)

In this six-hour studio, students explore human interaction with the visual world and create two-dimensional works using digital tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, drawing, photography, and mixed media. They investigate perception, representation, and culture as they record and then translate observations into visual form, organizing content, analyzing relationships, and communicating ideas. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

3 -
First-Year Studio: PUFY 1040 Time** (6 hours)

In this six-hour studio, students focus on evolving concepts of time in art and design and the way those concepts shape human experience and our understanding of the world. They develop and structure narratives and shape user experiences in projects ranging from bookmaking to performance art to audiovisual pieces. Media including Adobe InDesign and video editing software are used. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

- 3
First-Year Elective (3 or 6 hours)
- 3
PLHT 1000 Objects as History: Prehistory to Industrialization* (3 hours)

This lecture-and-discussion seminar traces world history through the social, cultural, technological, and religious functions of objects found in collections throughout New York City. Readings, lectures, and field trips to museums introduce students to objects representing a span of time from prehistory up to the Industrial Revolution. Students conduct research on objects used by a society and report their findings in written form and presentations.

- 3
PUFY 1001 Integrative Studio 2 and PUFY 1011 Integrated Seminar 2 (3 hours + 3 hours)

Building on methods introduced in the first semester, this course pairs a reading and writing seminar with a studio exploring the impact of research on art and design practice. Students learn to use design tools employed by professionals in the field and undertake individual and collaborative projects that investigate how cultural values can be transmitted through art and design. Coursework emphasizes research, formal writing, systems thinking, and information navigation skills and introduces distributed learning techniques. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

- 6
15 15

* Objects as History and Sustainable Systems may be taken in any sequence, one in the fall semester and one in the spring.

** First-year studio courses—Space/Materiality, Drawing/Imaging, and Time—may be taken in any sequence, two in the fall semester and one in the spring.

First Year F S
PUFY 1000 Integrative Studio 1 and PUFY 1010 Integrated Seminar 1 (6 hours + 3 hours)

This course pairing brings together writing, reading, and making through projects that draw on creative and critical skills in a liberal arts and studio context. In Integrative Studio, students create projects that involve collaboration, cross-disciplinary activity, research, and prototyping. In Integrative Seminar, they develop essential reading and writing skills that help them connect text and visual elements, a practice central to art and design. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

6 -
PUFY 1100 Sustainable Systems (3 hours)

This course focuses on the scientific and social issues related to the design of resilient urban futures. Sustainable Systems provides students with a foundational knowledge of the constraints, challenges, and opportunities presented by the need to design products, systems, and services that are more environmentally and economically sustainable. The course structure combines five sequenced lectures and field trips with ten studio-based workshops, prompting discussions and context-based learning while also creating opportunities to translate fieldwork into design work.

3 -
Quantitative Reasoning (3 hours)

This course covers the fundamentals of elementary and intermediate algebra used in business and social science. Students develop quantitative literacy, learning to organize and analyze data and mastering counting techniques and elementary probability. Students are also introduced to the use of technology as a computational aid and a tool for creating graphics.

3 -
First-Year Studio: PUFY 1030 Drawing/Imaging* (6 hours)

In this six-hour studio, students explore human interaction with the visual world and create two-dimensional works using digital tools such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, drawing, photography, and mixed media. They investigate perception, representation, and culture as they record and then translate observations into visual form, organizing content, analyzing relationships, and communicating ideas. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

3 -
First-Year Studio: PUFY 1020 Space/Materiality or PUFY 1040 Time* (6 hours)

Space/Materiality: In this six-hour studio, students become familiar with the methods and tools used to investigate and manipulate space and materials. In Parsons' modeling facilities, studio classrooms, and shops, they explore form, connections between making and thinking, and properties of space and materials such as weight, texture, color, durability, life cycle, and ecological impact. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

Time: In this six-hour studio, students focus on evolving concepts of time in art and design and the way those concepts shape human experience and our understanding of the world. They develop and structure narratives and shape user experiences in projects ranging from bookmaking to performance art to audiovisual pieces. Media including Adobe InDesign and video editing software are used. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

- 3
Program Elective (3 or 6 hours)
- 3
Economics (3 hours)

This course introduces the principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics and equips students with the necessary tools for analyzing current economic conditions and understanding their implications for individuals and enterprises. Students examine competition and market structure as well as the mechanics of individual and firm decision-making and allocation of resources. Students also gain an understanding of how production, employment, prices, and interest rates are determined at the aggregate level. Additional topics explore the long-term economic growth and prosperity of a nation and the role of monetary and fiscal policies in mitigating crises such as unemployment and inflation.

- 3
PUFY 1001 Integrative Studio 2 and PUFY 1011 Integrated Seminar 2 (3 hours + 3 hours)

Building on methods introduced in the first semester, this course pairs a reading and writing seminar with a studio exploring the impact of research on art and design practice. Students learn to use design tools employed by professionals in the field and undertake individual and collaborative projects that investigate how cultural values can be transmitted through art and design. Coursework emphasizes research, formal writing, systems thinking, and information navigation skills and introduces distributed learning techniques. Students will be able to select from course options that allow them to explore different topics.

- 6
15 15

*** The two first-year studio courses—Drawing/Imaging and either Space/Materiality or Time—may be taken in any sequence, one in the fall semester and one in the spring.


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