Bard Graduate Center is excited to announce our 2024 Summer Program in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. Open to undergraduates and recent college graduates, the program draws on resources at BGC and around New York City to provide an intensive, two-week program on material culture studies. Our topic for 2024 is “Designing Utopia.” The course will look at the history of modern and contemporary design in North America and Europe, from the nineteenth century through today, as a series of utopian projects. Led by associate professor Freyja Hartzell, this summer school will combine small seminars with New York City-based collections visits. Eligible for three upper-level undergraduate credits.

Program dates: Wednesday, July 10–Tuesday, July 23, 2024
For more information, contact: [email protected]

Designing Utopia

Design is an act of revolution. The complex human process of designing–conceiving, planning, iterating, and executing–new (or improved) objects for a spectrum of uses and purposes is a direct and concrete means for effecting social, cultural, and political change. This two-week intensive seminar considers the history of modern and contemporary design in North America and Europe, from the nineteenth century through today, as a series of utopian projects. Together, we will examine landmark events and movements in the history of design–such as nineteenth-century British design reform as a response to the Industrial Revolution; twentieth-century German design as a nationalist impulse; and Soviet design in the wake of the 1917 October Revolution–as well as less canonical design projects, such as the Oneida community’s attempt to blend religious fervor, free love, and furniture design; the feminist push for clothing and interior design reforms; design interventions for maternity and childhood, including toy and doll design; communes and 1960s counterculture; design for disability and access; speculative design; and Afrofuturism.

Morning seminars will be followed by afternoon supervised site visits to New York collections. A final research project will utilize BGC’s study collection and provide students with the opportunity to experience first-hand the delights and challenges of designing utopia.
Course Features
  • Seminars taught by Bard Graduate Center faculty
  • Visits to New York City museums and collections
  • Access to Bard Graduate Center’s Library, Digital Media Lab, and Object Lab
To Apply
Currently enrolled undergraduate students and recent graduates from an accredited institution may apply. Recommended majors: art history, anthropology, archaeology, classics, gender and sexuality studies, fashion studies, museum studies, religious studies.

All students must be in good academic and disciplinary standing and have a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Bard Graduate Center is unable to provide visa sponsorship for foreign nationals to participate in this program. International participants must have authorization from their sponsoring institution before they enroll and/or be in an immigration status that allows them to register for academic coursework.

How To Apply

April 15 - Applications due
Early May - Notification
May 15 - Decisions and deposits due

Tuition: $6,150 (3 credits)*
Tuition: $3,075 (not for credit)*
Housing: $795**

Limited scholarship money is available. Priority will be given to those taking the course for credit. Students who wish to be considered for scholarships must complete a FASFA by April 15, 2024. Bard Graduate Center’s FAFSA number is 002671.
*Housing price is for a shared two-bedroom apartment at Bard Hall, our housing facility located near Columbus Circle, a short distance from BGC. Apartments have two private bedrooms and shared kitchens, bathrooms, and common areas. Studio housing may also be available for a different price.
**Please note that there is a minimum enrollment for the summer program. If enrolment is not reached, the course may be canceled. If cancelation happens after the time of deposit, that money will be refunded.