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The arc of cultural and technological change driven by innovation in the Silicon Valley in recent decades has produced an increasingly visual and interactive culture in which the visual arts and art history must have a central role.  The Department of Art and Art History holds a core component of creative thinking at the major public university in Silicon Valley, and therefore has a responsibility to teach core skills demanded by 21st Century industry and required for global citizenship.  Conceptual creativity and creative problem solving; understanding and analysis of visual communication; complex critical thinking and writing; a firm scaffold of historical knowledge; as well as the practical skills required for new technologies--all these form the backbone of our curriculum and, at the same time, align us closely with the principle of “unbounded learning” outlined by President Qayoumi’s Vision 2017.  

Our thorough integration into the cultural and economic life of Silicon Valley makes us well aligned with the second guiding principle of the president’s strategic plan, “a sense of place.”  Our students are involved in the San José campus and community through a wide range of initiatives from internships to volunteer service projects.  Our graduates teach art and art history in a great many of the area’s schools and community colleges.  Faculty and graduates have been pivotal in the development of the region’s galleries and museums and have achieved regional and even national and international recognition as artists, designers and scholars.  At the same time, the department is committed to teaching skills that are broadly applicable to a rapidly changing world in which creativity as such becomes more significant than narrowly defined professional knowledge that may quickly become obsolete.

The department’s integration into the local community--coupled with the understanding of local and global culture, past and present, to which art history is particularly able to introduce students and which is crucial for global citizenship—is also in close alliance with the guiding principles of the new campus framework.  Our commitment to researching, teaching and practicing visual creativity and media encompasses equally the most contemporary technologies and the most ancient forms of artistic practice, without assuming any simplistic dichotomy or ‘progress’ from one to the other.  Finally, there is perhaps no effort better suited to fostering the cross cultural understanding required of global citizens than the visual arts which have a unique accessibility to all without barriers of language.

The Department, founded in 1911, offers BA, BFA, MA, and MFA degrees and is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD).  What we offer to prospective students: award-winning faculty and outstanding technical and administrative staff; a "best-in-the-west" combination of facilities for making, exhibiting, and researching art across many media; commitment to creative and critical thinking; opportunities to practice innovation across media; and a friendly and supportive community.