AMDA Curriculum Review Committee
June 25, 2020 - Announcements
In order to train the next generation of powerful, empowered, socially conscious theatre artists who live our mission statement, AMDA is committed to educating its students in a manner that uplifts and validates their experiences and demands that the industry change with us. We will lead this change.
One of the ways in which AMDA will begin to implement positive change is to form Curriculum Review Committees. AMDA’s Curriculum Review Committees will be composed of students, alumni, faculty, and staff.
A subcommittee will be established for each program on each campus:
• New York will have three (3) distinct committees: Dance Theatre Conservatory; Integrated Conservatory; Studio Conservatory
• Los Angeles will have five (5) distinct committees: Acting AOS/BFA Acting; Dance AOS/BFA Dance; MT AOS/BFA MT; Performance/Production; General Education
Each subcommittee should consist of the following breakdown of members:
• Existing students
• Members of AMDA Education Services and AMDA Diversity & Inclusion Teams
All students and alumni who are interested in being considered are asked to submit a simple application which includes the following:
• A response to the following questions, which can be submitted in writing, via video, or other medium: What is your unique perspective in the theatre industry, and why do you think that you should be selected to serve on this committee? Please include at least one area of the curriculum that you would like to explore during these meetings.
• Optional: A professional resume or statement, and if applicable, a performance resume.
Current students must also maintain AMDA’s GPA standard of 2.0.
Requirements of Participants
Once selected to serve on an AMDA Curriculum Review Committee, participants will be required to participate in approximately 3-4 meetings per semester, as well as 1 “town hall” meeting open to the entire AMDA community each semester. Faculty and staff would be expected to serve on the committee for a full calendar year. Students and alumni may serve for a full year, or will have the option of serving on a semester by semester basis.
• Participants are not required to have a background in theatre studies or theatre history, or necessarily be well-read or knowledgeable about the vast canon of theatrical material. They should, however, have an enthusiastic interest in learning more, and an appetite for exposure to new information and perspectives.
• Minutes from monthly meetings will be made available to students, faculty, alumni, and staff to allow for transparency in this progress.
• Between meetings, participants may be required to complete independent research and preparation. This includes reading, watching, and/or listening to relevant materials, as well as engaging in conversations with the AMDA community about related topics and material. The exact number of hours each committee member will spend completing independent research may vary, and will depend on their familiarity with the topics and material being discussed throughout their term.
• All committee members are expected to participate in respectful, thoughtful, and productive discussions.
AMDA’s curriculum should ensure an equitable, inclusive, and safe space for all students to learn and grow as performers.
The committee will be facilitated by the Office of Education Services and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, and given a directive each which includes specific coursework and/or courses to be evaluated.
The committee is tasked with identifying areas in which AMDA’s curriculum can be revised, expanded, or reworked to ensure exposure to a diverse canon of material and preparation for and promotion of an industry that dismantles discriminatory practices including but not limited to: race, ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious and spiritual beliefs, age, disability, socio-economic background, and the intersections of such identities. All constructive ideas, thoughts, and experiences are welcome and encouraged for consideration.
AMDA’s Curriculum Review Committees will evaluate AMDA’s curriculum by program to ensure students are receiving an education that lives up to our Philosophy and Mission statement:
o AMDA provides rigorous, performance-based training and an industry-focused education experience; one that inspires excellence and prepares artists with an appreciation for the universal power of transformation through art. AMDA's educational philosophy is based on close collegial interaction between instructors and students — in class, in production and through active mentorship.
o AMDA is committed to providing an unsurpassed performing arts education to a diverse community of creative artists. AMDA serves as both school and stage, where students are given the support and opportunity to define their own personal objectives and to develop and refine their own distinctive artistic voices.
o AMDA strives to create an environment for students to develop the skills, confidence, imagination, and power to contribute to their community as artists, entrepreneurs, visionaries, lifelong learners, and conscientious citizens of the world. Above all, AMDA wants to teach students that commitment and passion are the hallmarks of a successful and joyous career
All portions of AMDA’s curriculum are open for review. The committee will have access to relevant syllabi, supplemental materials, required readings, and institutional catalogs for reference during this process as well as a compendium of resources to assist in identifying existing standards for curricular policies, goals, and outcomes. The committee will strive to retain the originally intended goals and outcomes of the coursework while ensuring the unique material, objectives, and modes used to deliver such conclusions meet these standards.
Curricular review will include:
• Identification of problematic, outdated, and/or portions which require improvement or clarification that are written in the individual syllabus or assignment level.
• Identification of such portions in unwritten curriculum: non-syllabi tangible and intangible materials including handouts, music selections, acceptable terminology, “unwritten rules,” etc.
• Discussion to recommend removal or revision of such portions.
• Clear plan for revision or replacement, if necessary, which includes recommended resources to supplement changes.
The Curriculum Review Committees will recommend curricula and policies that break systemic inequalities down by incorporating required coursework - not just electives - as part of the standard programming for each of the Conservatory, Associates of Occupational Studies, and Bachelors tracks that exposes our students to the foundational contributions of a diverse sample of theatre practitioners and amplifies multiple perspectives both in the coursework and in the classroom. This includes but is not limited to:
o Expansion of current curriculum as well as proposed additional courses that explicitly acknowledge that American Musical Theatre is built on the foundation of the racist theatrical mechanisms of minstrelsy and blackface.
o Acknowledgment of and discussion about the problematic, stereotypical, and racist depictions of marginalized identities represented in material.
o Purposeful representation of playwrights and subjects that are not limited to the cis/white/heterosexual experience; an understanding of American Realism that includes varied, diversified voices.
o Ensuring all aspects of the curriculum promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
o Inclusion for differently-abled students to promote an environment that is not only welcoming to all, but removes barriers so that all students have the same opportunity to experience the coursework.
o Breaking down historical practices of type-casting and evaluating what it means to cast “colorblind” verses “color conscious;” dismantling these practices altogether in favor of an environment where students are encouraged to explore roles that speak to their unique abilities.
o Creating a clear standard of equity with regard to classroom expectations and requirements.
o Respect for individual identities. No student will be made to feel that in order to succeed in our programming or in our industry, they must mute, stifle, or otherwise hide who they are.
o Focus on our mission to create a new generation of performers who are conscientious citizens of the world by incorporating critical assessment of important industry-related current events, trends, and projections.
Depending on the scope of the change, it is expected to take at minimum one full semester to develop and approve a plan, one full semester to ensure there is a clear implementation of said plan, and one full semester for necessary faculty training, resource compilation, and other systematic logistics of delivery.
Initial recommendations from the committees will be reviewed for approval by the Director of Education, the Director of Education Services, the Chief Diversity Officer, and applicable Program Heads, with additional review by students, alumni, and faculty. Once approved, the committee members will move on to support the planning and implementation stages.
While some changes may not be able to be implemented mid-semester, the committee may recommend consideration for more immediate amendments. Example: A prescribed piece of music used during demonstrations for dance curriculum can be considered for immediate amendment, while the choreography itself would require a longer review process.
1. The institution will put the committee in place during Summer 2020, and encourage those selected to serve to begin their independent research.
2. The committee will spend Fall 2020 reviewing the targeted curricula with expectations of presenting oversight with proposed changes and amendments.
3. Once approved, the committee will spend Spring 2021 ensuring thorough preparation is made for implementations. This stage includes review of impacts and may require revisions for final approval.
4. During Summer 2021, the committee will work closely with oversight to ensure all necessary training is available for faculty and staff and confirming availability of resources (materials are purchased and cataloged in the library as needed, required materials are available from the student store, etc.).
5. Updated curriculum will be implemented in all AMDA classrooms beginning Fall 2021.
To get involved, please fill out this form: AMDA Curriculum Review Committee Application