'Choose your own adventure' in Bellarmine's Design, Arts & Technology program

December 9, 2019

You could call Bellarmine University’s Design, Arts and Technology (DAT) program “a secondary major that integrates the fine and applied arts with digital technology.” That’s how the university catalog describes it. But program director Shawn Apostel’s description is more fun: It’s the pathway to a “Choose Your Own Adventure” degree.
With its multiple electives, “it’s broad and creative, and that’s what I love about it,” says Dr. Apostel, a former graphic designer, professional artist and photographer who became director of the program in summer 2019.
The DAT program, which must be paired with a complementary primary major of Art, Business, Communication, Computer Science, English or Music, builds skills in a variety of areas, including website development, film and video production, sound editing and audio production, multimedia art, graphic design, 2D animation and communications technology.
Students do hands-on projects with actual clients and complete a three-hour internship, ideally in their complementary major area of study.
The DAT program “gives you a vehicle to really propel you into your career field. You have a discipline, and the DAT almost electrifies it,” Apostel said. “We don’t make pretend. We make things happen.”
The program also breaks down academic silos by drawing students from a variety of disciplines, he said. “There are some degrees where you live in one building. Our majors are from many buildings.”
True to the spirit of the liberal arts, that sparks collaboration and different ways of thinking. “The reason that the first Macs had so many fonts was that Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class and fell in love with typography,” he noted.
Bellarmine junior John Klapheke said he chose the double major of Communication and DAT because of the opportunities they offered. “They have an immense number of electives. When I saw that, that translated into ‘experience, experience, experience.’ And also just being able to say, ‘This is your college career. Each of those things that say elective? That means you get to do what you want. You get to choose. You form your own destiny.’ That was very powerful for me.”
The DAT major also helped him land a semester-long dream internship on the Creator Expert team at LEGO headquarters in Billund, Denmark, in the fall of 2018. He’s now pursuing interests in web design, video production, photography and filmmaking.
Article by Carla Carlton, Director of Executive and Advancement Communications

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