June 3, 2019: Breakthrough Curriculum Update

As you are aware, Peabody’s innovative Breakthrough Curriculum was launched 18 months ago following two years of planning. As we stated at the beginning of the development of this curriculum, it has been our intention to see this initiative as a “living breathing” process, maintaining flexibility as we continue to learn. In that spirit, last January I appointed the Breakthrough Curriculum Work Group comprised of faculty, administration, student representation, and industry experts. The Charge of the Group was:  To review instruction, format, content, curricular sequence and scaffolding, degree and departmental cohorts, evaluation procedures, skills assessment, and collected student/faculty/staff feedback to present a thorough review and recommendations for curricular revision and refinement to the dean by May 15, 2019.

Having completed its task, the key outcome of the group’s work includes its recommendation to combine the Build (PY.123.201, 2 credits) and Implement (PY.123.301, 1 credit) sequences into one unified, two-credit class and re-sequencing the classes to ensure appropriate scaffolding of skills. The recommended changes address the feedback received from various constituencies:

  • Focusing on career development through practicing directly applicable skills
  • Creating in-depth content specifically for grad students
  • Shifting balance of in-person vs. online format to best suit course content
  • Building additional curriculum content to address all degree programs
  • Allowing students to shape the parameters of their capstone project through selecting their collaborators or working independently and through choosing the venue/partner that matches their interests

The new capstone course focuses on the development of realizable, innovative creative projects by undertaking research, preparing a portfolio of materials (including a project proposal, budget, timeline, and supporting documents), and rehearsing a pitch presentation. Pitches will be adjudicated by a panel of faculty and guests and will also serve as an entry in a real competition for funding and project support to implement a residency at one of Peabody’s partner institutions.

In addition to this major change, we will name a coordinator for the curriculum in the LAUNCHPad office to address needs of faculty, students, graduate assistants, the registrar, and advising. Similarly, Academic Affairs will work to find the best sequence for Breakthrough classes for each individual degree program and major and correct the schedules for current students. Finally, the names of the classes will be tweaked to better reflect their content especially for purposes of transcript recognition.

In the new course configuration:

PY.123.101 Explore becomes: Exploring Arts Careers
PY.123.421 Activate becomes: Building a Brand and Portfolio
PY.123.302 Formerly Build and Implement becomes: Pitching Your Creative Idea

Peabody continues to be well ahead of the curve in tackling the optimal way to prepare 21st century musicians and dancers. These refinements are designed to further advance Peabody in this direction. We must also recognize that like making music, these skills are part of a continuum of development that will go well into and through the professional lives of our students, for which the Breakthrough Curriculum is a baseline introduction and launch pad to lifelong development of these critical skills. Going forward we will continue to monitor and assess progress with the Breakthrough Curriculum in order to ensure that the experience for our students is optimal.

I am grateful to members of the Breakthrough Curriculum Work Group for the thoughtful and thorough work that they have done over the past several months. They are:  Abra Bush and Zane Forshee, Co-chairs; Joe Burgstaller, Eric Booth, Farouk Day, Elizabeth Futral, Sarah Hoover, Felipe Lara, Paul Mathews, Bob Muckenfuss, Jennifer Rosenfeld, Sarah Thomas, and Aubree Weiley.