The digital culture degree: A competency-based interdisciplinary program spanning engineering and the arts

Thanassis Rikakis, David Tinapple, Loren Olson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

8 Scopus citations


This paper describes the Digital Culture BA degree: an engineering-arts undergraduate curriculum that combines competency-based education (CBE) and knowledge-oriented education (KOE) structures and related Pull-Push approaches. The degree has been offered for three years at Arizona State University, has 200 enrolled students and is continuing to grow. The degree embeds nine knowledge-oriented concentrations, each offered by a relevant participating department, within an interdisciplinary CBE context. The CBE part of the degree provides customized access to 40 interdisciplinary digital culture courses from 12 different academic units by connecting these courses through a set of core competencies. Access to courses is not determined by fixed prerequisites but rather by having one of several possible combinations of lower level competencies. This flexible curriculum is attractive to students, promotes integrative collaborative learning that inspires innovation, and prepares the type of engineering-arts experts and complex problem solvers that are currently needed in creative industries. This type of degree also presents several important challenges for educators and administrators. To address these challenges we developed project based assessment approaches, custom web-based software for advising a very diverse student body, as well as online tools for facilitating peer critique and feedback in large creative classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2013 Frontiers in Education Conference
Subtitle of host publicationEnergizing the Future, FIE 2013 - Proceedings
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2013
Event43rd IEEE Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2013 - Oklahoma City, OK, United States
Duration: Oct 23 2013Oct 26 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Other43rd IEEE Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOklahoma City, OK


  • Arts
  • Competency-based education
  • Engineering
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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