A new program introduced to Oregon State University-Cascades in June combines multiple classic studies — arts, graphic design, communications — into a new degree: Arts, Media and Technology.

The program’s leading professor says it will serve a need among Central Oregon companies for workers skilled in graphic design and the digital arts.

“It’s important that we have degrees like this,” said professor Kiel Fletcher. “It’s hopefully a degree that inspires and really mimics the community spirit of Bend, that entrepreneurial spirit with a tech edge.”

Fletcher spent years in Colorado and Vermont marketing action sports like skiing before becoming a professor and eventually joining OSU-Cascades’ faculty in 2015. He and university staff worked with local marketing and design leaders to develop a degree program that would blend traditional arts classes with modern technology and communication courses.

Students in the program are required to take not only the foundational classes associated with an arts degree, such as painting and sculpting, but also graphic design and high-tech communication courses. The graphic design classes were introduced to OSU-Cascades this summer after only being available at OSU’s Corvallis campus.

The communication courses required of students in the program include new media visualization, where they’ll learn how to create code-based programs for graphs or video games, and new media, where students learn the technology used in mobile app development and use it for artistic purposes like visual storytelling.

Fletcher said students who leave OSU-Cascades with the new Arts, Media and Technology degree will be able to pursue a variety of careers, as the program is less specialized than graphic design or marketing degrees.

A few examples include working for a marketing or advertising agency, serving as an in-house graphic designer for a company or becoming a freelance arts entrepreneur.

“The foundation of this degree is broad; it addresses a lot of markets,” Fletcher said. “(Students) will have the foundation to step into any graphic design internship or marketing internship within their senior year.”

Despite having a potential to work with business courses, the degree doesn’t involve courses such as marketing analytics, as it’s a “purely creative-based degree,” Fletcher said.

Tessa Moody, a senior at OSU-Cascades, is one of the first students enrolled in the degree program. She’s a graphic design intern for the Tetherow resort and said she’s enjoying classes in the arts and technology fields.

“It’s a super interesting, multifaceted degree that you can spin a lot of different ways if you’re interested in studio art or graphic design,” said Moody, 21. “It’s not a super-traditional art degree, but you still get to take drawing classes.”

Moody said her career goal is to create marketing that doubles as interactive art. “Part of the art that’s interesting is when people have conversations around it,” she said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com