The Tufts Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies recently announced changes to its major requirements, including increasing flexibility in terms of electives and a decrease in certain required classes. Students matriculating in fall 2023 will be the first class required to adhere to the new curriculum for TDPS.
Jessica Pizzuti, a TDPS lecturer, described the changes as part of efforts to be more responsive to students’ needs. The idea for these changes was first expressed in September 2021 in departmentwide listening sessions open to students.
“The overwhelming response to those listening sessions was that the classes themselves were restrictive in what people wanted to explore,” Pizzuti said. “We decided to look at the requirements for the major and change them to make them more flexible, to allow students more elective choices so that they could explore the areas they were more interested in.”
A key change was to include electives in dance as an optional way to fulfill some major requirements, coinciding with a name change of the major from “Theatre and Performance Studies” to “Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies.” Noe Montez, chair of the TDPS department, outlined the vision behind the department’s integration of dance, which was previously only offered as a minor.
“We looked at revisiting the requirements around our major as a way to … give more flexibility to our students so that they can navigate the requirements of our major alongside the prerequisites for graduation and possible criteria for other majors, and … to create greater opportunity for our dance students to become more actively involved in the department,” Montez said.
Additionally, beginning in fall 2023, students who declare a major in TDPS must take a class related to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. Montez contextualized the department’s goals within Tufts’ existence as a predominantly white institution and his own experiences.
“I’m mindful of my positionality as a Latinx person, a first generation college student who now chairs the theatre department in a predominantly white institution,” Montez said. “It’s important to me to make sure that students from the global majority are getting the opportunity to see themselves and their identities represented in the works that they study and in the works that they stage in our department.”
He continued by highlighting the department’s commitment to creating more DEIJ initiatives inside and outside the classroom.
“The idea is to make [DEIJ work] more visible … both in what students take in the classroom and what they do in our productions,” Montez said. “So we’re also developing our production season with an eye towards representing different students and their experiences.”
The major changes have been received positively by Libby Moser, a senior majoring in TDPS and clinical psychology, who shared her hopes for the program’s future.
“I hope [the change in requirements] lowers the barrier to entry,” she said. “I hope it encourages more creative, imaginative, inclusive theater and performance. I hope it encourages the broader Tufts community to ask more questions about theater and to really give nominal and monetary value to this department that provides so much for this campus.”
Any students who have already matriculated to Tufts, excluding those who will graduate this spring, are encouraged to follow either the new or old guidelines. Students will be able to graduate with the new major requirements beginning in fall 2023.