July 10, 2020 - PNCA’s Educational Plans for Fall 2020

July 17, 2020

A message from Dean Kate Copeland July 10, 2020

PNCA is committed to a safe, healthy, and responsible return to campus. This document outlines PNCA’s academic plans for Fall 2020, as developed by PNCA Faculty Leadership and reviewed by groups of students and staff. PNCA will release additional documents and information soon about other aspects of campus life that are important for a safe return to campus.


PNCA plans to use a flexible, hybrid, and highly personalized approach for Fall 2020, providing you with the type of educational model that works best for you. Classes will be conducted with a variety of remote and in-person options, with details dependent upon the discipline and each student’s needs and choices.

PNCA’s buildings will be activated as maker-spaces to foster creativity and community; we anticipate that many PNCA students will want to come to campus regularly to use the facilities, so we’ve prioritized that to make sure you can use all the workshops, labs, spaces, and equipment you rely on. If you aren’t comfortable being on campus in person, your advisor will work with you to design a pathway that makes that possible.

The semester will start and end at the regular time. We’ll stop all in-person instruction by Thanksgiving, but the semester will continue after that, so you can work on your final projects and complete the semester safely.

Your education is in your own hands, and we’ll be here to support you every step of the way.

Inclusive Pedagogy:

Faculty are working systematically throughout PNCA to develop and implement anti-racist and inclusive curriculum, using an approach grounded in critical pedagogy. We are working to create an inclusive and safe environment for Black students, Indigenous students, students of color, and students from marginalized and underserved communities.

This pedagogical approach will be supported by many other structural changes at PNCA. These changes include a revised Student Concern policy, the creation of an Ombuds panel, revisions to PNCA’s hiring practices, trainings, Equity Plans for each department, and much more.

Class Structure:

Most studio classes will be offered with a hybrid approach involving both in-person and remote components. We’re working on a list that outlines details of every single class, so that you can ensure you’re signed up for the option you prefer. We’re also working to establish guidelines to ensure you have a consistent experience throughout the semester.

For studio classes, you can expect some things to stay the same and some things to be different. As always, your studio faculty will provide mentorship and individual guidance. Group activities will change because we’re reducing the number of people that gather together.

While detail will vary according to the class, you can expect some occasional (non-mandatory) large-group activities outdoors and in large spaces, some demos offered remotely with videos, some demos offered on-site in small groups, asynchronous and synchronous critiques, and mentorship from faculty. Contact with Studio faculty will sometimes occur in person, sometimes remotely, depending on the discipline and course. During class time, you’ll meet with the professor and your fellow students for technical and conceptual guidance, for critiques, and more. Zoom meetings will be limited to 90 minutes maximum.

Most Liberal Arts classes will be offered remotely, with participation in threaded discussion forums providing asynchronous possibilities, and in some cases options to join in person at a few points in the semester. Some Liberal Arts classes will have more in-person contact available and some Liberal Arts classes will be geared towards a more fully remote experience; we’ll make this clear in the list we provide. All Liberal Arts classes will be Pass / Fail / High Pass.

We’ll be clear about the delivery format for each class, so you always know what you’re selecting. If a class you want isn’t the type of delivery model you prefer, your Advisor can help waive those requirements and/or modify your schedule to a different order, so that your options for Fall 2020 are appropriate for your preferred style of learning.

We’re working hard to communicate clearly, to create consistency, and to ensure that methods are working. Since so much of this is new, we will ask for feedback from students throughout the semester, and conduct a more formal feedback process about classes at midterms.

Facility access:

We plan for continuous facility access throughout the semester, with structured sign-ups to reduce the number of people in each space at any given time (while circumstances could change due to state law, this is the current intent). We’ll prioritize access for making, research, and all forms of creative practice, in individual and small-group settings.

Masks and Social Distancing:

Masks are required in all shared spaces at PNCA. Physical distancing is required at all times.


One of the big changes at PNCA this fall is that attendance is not mandatory. We recognize that the outcomes of your education - the way you develop the skills necessary to graduate and succeed in your career - are the most important part.

We want to acknowledge that gatherings are a big part of the experience, so we do hope you’ll attend as many as possible, but we recognize that attendance is your choice - so attendance will not be required and calculated into the course grade.

If you can’t or don’t want to attend class in person, your instructors and advisor will work with you to find a suitable pathway forward.