Program Description

Work across disciplines to make work that is socially and ecologically impactful.

Never before have ecological issues been more pressing. In this interdisciplinary minor, you’ll develop a broad understanding of those ecological issues and their relationship to the social, political, cultural, and economic systems that impact the future of humanity, other species, and our shared planet. You'll understand how your own work as an artist or a designer can comment on, interact with, and impact the world.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, with the forest, the Columbia River Gorge, the Pacific Ocean, and the mountains so nearby, we are deeply aware of the natural world, its persistence and fragility, and how important the health of the planet is to our own.  And here in Portland, a city that is politically progressive, ecologically-minded, and forward-thinking on social issues, we are embedded in a network of like-minded artists, designers, scholars, and organizations with whom you will collaborate and share inspiration. 

You will receive guidance and support through individual meetings with the Department Head. You can also participate in group activities including exhibitions, guest speakers, guided hikes, and other community pursuits.

Life in the Program

Being involved in the Art + Ecology minor at PNCA has brought to light many aspects of neoliberalism, climate change, environmental decline, capitalism, and cultural conflict that I may not have considered prior. But more than that, this curriculum has emphasized their close intertwining and just how complex these issues really are.

Addie Lehuahuakea Fernandez

Student Work

The Art & Ecology minor...granted me vocabulary, histories, and solutions involving environmental studies. Environmental degradation, so closely linked to politics, can feel daunting– but the Art & Ecology minor helped me feel like there are things I can do to make positive change.

Marguerite Bailey

Program Details


The Art and Ecology minor is open to all majors. Art + Ecology students do NOT take extra courses to fulfill the minor; rather, they choose courses to fulfill the requirements of the minor.  

Art + Ecology students take two required 3-credit courses and choose three electives from a wide range of topics for a total of 15 credits. Each enrolled student receives an individualized plan that outlines how this minor fits into their course of study as well as ongoing guidance by the Department Head to ensure that their curricular choices support their goals and interests.

Required Courses

Theory & Practice: Art + Ecology: Global Culture and Ecology (IM201) A studio course that helps you understand the connections between political, economic, social, and cultural issues and your own creative practice. Together, we tackle the complex global issue of climate change and consider how artists and designers are responding and how you might best respond.  

Ecology and Resilience (SCI223/323) A science course that offers you a foundational understanding of ecology and earth systems, and the ways humans are shaping these systems to define our environment. You will become familiar with a scientific worldview and its impact on the contemporary landscape and society.

A Few Sample Elective Options

Homeland: The American Landscape
Offsite Projects
Social Practice: Art and Community
Design Studio II: Culture and Audience
Design Studio II: Rhetoric & Persuasion
The Oily 20th Century
Native American Studies
Race, Racism, and American Law
Outcasts, Rebels, and Misfits that have Changed the World or Failed Trying
Social Ecology of Latin America
Urban and Forest Botany
Biogeography of the Pacific Northwest
Food and Science


Daniela Molnar

Daniela Naomi Molnar works in a range of forms including painting, art direction, design, site-specific intervention, a collaborative poetry/visual art project, writing, activism, and teaching. Her  work operates at the intersection of art, nature, and culture and is informed by a deep ecological worldview. She grew up in the New York City area, a daughter of immigrants, and now lives in Portland, Oregon.

She is a founding member of the Board of Directors, a backcountry guide, and an all-around integral part of  Signal Fire, an organization increasing the cultural value of the natural world by providing opportunities for artists to engage with public wild lands. She is Art Editor for The Bear Deluxe Magazine, a publication devoted to exploring environmental issues through the arts, and Founding Co-Editor of Leaf Litter, Signal Fire’s art and literary journal.

Daniela is the Founding Department Head of the Art + Ecology program and a full-time Associate Professor at the Pacific Northwest College of Art, where she has been teaching undergraduate and graduate students about painting, drawing, environmental issues, visual culture, critical theory, and pedagogy since 2007

Learn more

Get in touch

For more information, please contact Art & Ecology program Lead, Professor Daniela Molnar at

Email Lead Faculty