Photography major now available to AU students

Joint program between SOC and CAS holds new opportunities

Photography major now available to AU students

The McKinley building, which houses the School of Communication.

For the first time, AU students are now able to declare a major in photography. The degree program, which is a collaboration between the School of Communication (SOC) and the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), aims to give students a comprehensive knowledge of the fundamentals of photography, as well as the possible applications for it. 

“We are in this very photo-saturated era,” said Naoko Wowsugi, a CAS professor and one of the co-directors of the new program. “To know how to use photography – that’s the greatest gift you can have.”

The program will admit ten students every year through a process that will include a portfolio review and a meeting to screen whether or not students are a good fit. 

Wowsugi and Leena Jayaswal, the program’s other co-director who teaches at SOC, both emphasize this opportunity for students to combine their interests with learned skills to express themselves through a new medium. Students interested in pursuing this major should be prepared to work hard and to merge their practices with theory and history of photography, Jayaswal said. 

“I would like to encourage photography students to find [their] voice and to find voices that aren't being represented and encourage them to be able to share those voices to a larger audience,” Jayaswal said.

While new courses are still being developed, photography majors will have access to courses in the respective schools that they had not previously had. Jayaswal also mentioned the possibility of future environmental photography and portraiture courses. 

“As we see interest in the program grow, we are absolutely going to be able to open it up to new coursework,” Jayaswal said.

The major is meant to both prepare students for their futures with foundational knowledge of different areas of photography and to open doors in the world of higher education. Jayaswal explained that some students described it as being a bit of a challenge to be accepted into graduate school without having a photography major. She considers herself lucky as an AU alum to have been accepted to a decent graduate school without one. 

“Having this joint program, we’re going to have students that are really well rounded in every aspect in photography, from art, to journalism, to commercial work.” Jayaswal said. 

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