Liberal Arts

The value we place on critical inquiry and on developing a broad and engaged world view make studying art and design different at PNCA. 

Liberal Arts enriches your experience at PNCA through impassioned, rigorous, and culturally relevant coursework that inspires curiosity and lays a foundation for continuing intellectual and creative pursuits. In these courses, 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 compassionate and rigorous manner, to participate in the broader culture, and to collaborate with others effectively.


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 emphasizes 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? 


Literature & 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. There is a strong element of experimentation and self-examination in this pursuit as well as a passionate questioning of the world in which we live.


History, philosophy, critical and cultural studies courses play a key role in the development of a lasting curiosity and empathy about the world fostered through inquiry, research, and experience. Courses address a variety of concepts and themes, such as visual culture, identity politics, ontology, ethics and morality, aesthetics, phenomenology, environmentalism, and American politics, and they help you form the historical, theoretical, and philosophical context for much of your creative work and critical thinking. 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 courses inspire you to critically and imaginatively engage with a complex and evolving world increasingly influenced by data, technology, and science. The curriculum emphasizes research, debate, and creative inquiry; 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.