Liberal Arts courses round out your education, helping you become a more thoughtful, well-rounded artist or designer. Explore widely or select your courses from one of our focused Areas of Study.

Open the World Wide

Specifically designed for artists and designers, our Liberal Arts courses open the world wide with introductions to multiple perspectives, worldviews, and experiences. Your Liberal Arts courses inspire curiosity and open new lines of critical inquiry. They help you fortify your intellectual foundation as well broadening your understanding of the world. You read, research, share what you’ve learned, and engage in impassioned discussion. You learn to synthesize strands of knowledge in a cohesive, elegant manner and to frame and articulate questions and complex ideas. With encouragement and support from faculty members, you learn to welcome creative and intellectual challenges, to express your vision in a clear and thorough manner, to participate in the broader culture, and to collaborate with others effectively.

Art History

Art History classes help you develop skills of visual literacy, vocabulary, and analysis by introducing the styles, movements, artists, and techniques understood to form cultural traditions. Our unique thematic World Art History survey draws attention to the fact that the world of contemporary art is global and decentralized and emphasizes the connections to sociopolitical, cultural, and economic changes. Our curriculum embraces a diversity of media and helps students situate their own practice within the contemporary, global, and diverse art world. Our courses ask students to consider the following questions: How are the creation, process, appearance, and reception of art dependent on cultural context? How do the subjects, impetuses and goals from the past inform contemporary art?

stacks of books in the library at Pacific Northwest College of Art

Literature and Writing

Literature and writing seminars address various approaches to textual interpretation, critical thinking, research, and writing. Through close-reading, rigorous research, critical dialogue, and through analysis of text, theory, and history, you learn to shape and present informed ideas in a variety of writing formats that demonstrate clarity, coherence, intellectual force, and stylistic control. PNCA's literature and writing Seminars embrace experimentation and self-examination as well as a passionate questioning of the world in which we live.

History, Philosophy, Critical and Cultural Studies

History, philosophy, critical and cultural studies courses are where you can indulge your curiosity about the world and its cultures. These courses introduce you to key inquiry and research practices and help you form the historical, theoretical, and philosophical context for much of your creative work and critical thinking. Courses address a variety of concepts and themes, such as visual culture, identity politics, ontology, ethics and morality, aesthetics, phenomenology, environmentalism, and American politics. You grapple with great philosophical questions, learn to understand historical events and trends, form ethical and moral arguments, experiment with theoretical lenses, and undertake critical inquiries that empower you to present your own ideas in more enlightened ways.


Mathematics and Science

Mathematics and science courses inspire you to critically and imaginatively engage with a complex and evolving world increasingly influenced by data, technology, and science. Our math and science courses emphasize research, debate, and creative inquiry. The curriculum cultivates an appreciation of beautiful ideas and powerful methods and empowers you with the analytical tools, research skills, and knowledge base to reason logically, to argue persuasively, and to interpret theories in science and mathematics through a creative and considered lens.

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