Making a Living and a Life: Sustainable Creative Practice

Fall 2017
Winter 2018
Spring 2018
Class Size: 40
50% Reserved for Freshmen
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

music composition

"The people I love the best
jump into work head first …"

— Marge Piercy, "To Be of Use"

This program is for students who want to make a sustainable living through a creative practice, products, or services. This includes students in the arts, entertainment, communications, business, social change, food production, and other fields. Our aim is to help you become a social entrepreneur equipped for a career in either for-profit or nonprofit organizations.

We will look closely at the history and theory of work, particularly in the areas of organizational management and change. Workplaces are changing, becoming more diverse, varied, and globalized. Keeping this in mind, we will also look closely at the internal infrastructure of organizations and learn about planning and development, writing business plans, doing organizational and marketing research, analyzing data using statistics, and creating budgets using spreadsheet programs. Small-group projects will bring students together to create commentaries on our texts and themes via visual arts, creative writing, and performance. In-program salons will offer opportunities for artists to share their work-in-progress and for artisans, crafters, food producers, and social entrepreneurs to share their prototypes.

By examining the professional worlds of practitioners through organizational theory and the humanities, we will discover structures that help foster sustainable lives and livelihoods and basic organizational and entrepreneurship principles applicable in many contexts. We'll read about successful practices and meet successful practitioners—artists, leaders, makers, and doers. Credit will be awarded in the arts (professional practices and public speaking), humanities (studies of organizations via literature and related critical reading and writing skills), social sciences (management, entrepreneurship), and applied math (spreadsheets, detailed budgets, marketing and business plans, fundamentals of statistics and demographics).

In the fall, we'll focus on building a common vocabulary concerning professional practices in the arts and organizations and building web and spreadsheet skills. In the winter, students will create sustainable life and business plans, including budgets and marketing plans. In the spring, students will pursue in-program internships or individual projects, along with common work. Weeklong field trips to New York in the fall and Los Angeles in the winter, to meet alumni who are professional practitioners, are an option. During both quarters, we'll host or, on local and regional field trips, visit artists, makers, and producers. By the end of this program, we hope you will agree with the poet Marge Piercy that:

"… the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real."

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

visual, performing, and media arts; social entrepreneurship; artisan food/service production; design; management; and leadership


Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.
Special expenses:

About $1,500 for the fall field trip to New York, and $1,200 for the winter field trip to Los Angeles (both trips are OPTIONAL). Around $50 for tickets to performances and museums.

Internship Opportunities:

The spring quarter program revolves around in-program internships or individual projects. The majority of the spring program time will be devoted to the internship/project (12 credits) along with weekly readings and group meetings, including seminars and other all-program activities. This requires internships to be local to the region.

Class Standing: Freshman–Sophomore
Class Size: 40
50% Reserved for Freshmen

Scheduled for: Day

Advertised schedule:

First class meeting: Tuesday, September 26 at 10am (Sem II A1105)

Located in: Olympia

2017-11-08This program will accept new enrollment without signature. Students must complete some reading prior to the start of the quarter.