Foundation Studies | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Foundation Studies

As a first-year student, you take foundation courses are transdisciplinary and cut across MCAD’s curriculum, exposing you to a wide variety of techniques, tools, and concepts while supporting your integration into the MCAD community. The goal is for you to build a solid foundation of art and design skills, key concepts, and history while further developing writing and research skills. All MCAD students take Foundation: 2D, Foundation: Drawing 1, Foundation: Media 1 and Writing and Inquiry. Working with an advisor, you identify additional foundation courses that support your development in an area of interest. 

Declaring a Major

Following your first year of study, you work with an advisor and various instructors to define your goals and choose a major. You declare a major no later than your third semester at MCAD. Bachelor of Science students do not need to declare; they are automatically Entrepreneurial Studies majors.

Foundation Studies Courses

Foundation: 2D

3 credits

Foundation: 2D is an introduction to creative thinking that develops students’ skills in research, observation, interpretation, and self-expression. An emphasis is placed on exploring new ways to read and see the world, as well as new ways to report on it. Students learn basic two-dimensional principles through the use of various media, tools, materials, and processes. As a result, students develop a visual and verbal language for analyzing, organizing, shaping, and communicating two-dimensional form and meaning.

Foundation: Drawing 1

3 credits

Foundation: Drawing 1 is an introductory drawing course designed to prepare students for study in all majors of the college. Students develop basic drawing skills, including the ability to perceive and express visual relationships, organize a two-dimensional composition, and depict and manipulate form, space, and light. Students work from direct observation of still life, interior space, and landscape.

Foundation: Media 1

3 credits

Students are introduced to digital resources at MCAD while exploring digital media. Areas covered include the Service Bureau, Gray Studio, and Media Center, along with other digital resources. Students use a variety of software and hardware to learn the basics of working with recorded media, including video, sound, and photography, as well as developing critical language for discussing media and media artists. 

Foundation: Media 2

3 credits

Building on the knowledge acquired in Foundation: Media 1, this course engages students’ skills in observation, recording, editing, critical analysis, and conceptualization within media arts. Through discussions, lectures, and creative projects, students explore various modes of media presentation and the power of moving images and multimedia work. Using digital technologies to deepen their media and technology foundation, students explore complex concepts and techniques for creating impactful work. Prerequisite: Foundation: Media 1

Foundation: 3D

3 credits

This course is an introduction to the understanding of visual creation in the development of knowledge, imagination, and perception. Students are introduced to basic three-dimensional concepts as well as materials and technical production processes. Classroom activities include shop demonstrations of tools and techniques, lectures, critiques, and discussions appropriate to promoting the balanced fusion of practice and theory.

Foundation: Drawing 2

3 credits

Foundation: Drawing 2 is an observationally based drawing course designed to reinforce and develop the basic drawing skills established in Foundation: Drawing 1. Students work with a variety of subjects, including a substantial amount of drawing from the figure. In addition to working from direct observation, students explore drawing as a tool for invention, conceptualization, and idea development. The course also affords students an opportunity to investigate drawing materials in more breadth and depth than in Foundation: Drawing 1. Prerequisite: Foundation: Drawing 1

Ideation and Process

3 credits

Everything we make has its beginning as an idea, which takes form as an artist/designer makes a series of decisions to guide its creative evolution. This course is designed to help students explore the development of new ideas and their own process of making. Students also create visual tools to track their creative process from idea through construction and then to post-production analysis. The course consists of discussions, critiques, exercises, and visual logs. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

Sophomore Seminar: Contemporary Practice

3 credits

Practice is more than working methods: it’s the context, marketing, and creative space that maintain creative work. Contemporary Practice introduces students to the foundations, variety, and tools of a professional practice. Students upgrade websites and documentation, enter contests, and create professional presentations of their work. Classes consist of lectures, student presentations, and guest speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing

Writing and Inquiry

3 credits

Key to the creative and critical growth of the engaged, successful artist is participation in a culture of writing and inquiry. Students in this course focus on the kinds of writing they will encounter and produce in their coursework at MCAD and as creative professionals. Regular writing workshops allow students to concentrate on experiential and practical approaches to writing. Students explore a variety of texts and objects through class assignments, and then develop clear compelling essays employing a variety of rhetorical and narrative strategies. 

Introduction to Art and Design: History 1

3 credits

The objective of this course is to familiarize students with the major stylistic, thematic, cultural, and historical transformations in art history from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century. This course helps students develop critical tools for the interpretation and understanding of the meaning and function of art objects, architecture, and design artifacts within their original historical contexts. Class sessions consist primarily of lecture with some discussion. Students take in-class examinations and complete short essay assignments.

Introduction to Art and Design History 2

3 credits

This course introduces students to issues in modern art, popular culture, and contemporary art and design. Topics may include the expanding audience for art, the transformation of the art market, the impact of new technologies, the changing status of the artist, and the role of art in society. This course is taught as a seminar with some lectures. Prerequisite: Introduction to Art and Design History 1 or faculty permission