NEWS_SHI, UAS to offer associate degree with Northwest Coast arts emphasis

NEWS_SHI, UAS to offer associate degree with Northwest Coast arts emphasis

Posted By:
Kathy Dye
Kathy Dye
Published On: December 22nd, 2020

Program part of effort to establish four-year arts degree

March 2, 2020

The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), in partnership with Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI), will offer a new Associate of Arts (AA) degree with an emphasis in Northwest Coast arts this fall.

The undergraduate program, which will be offered at the university’s Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka campuses and through e-learning courses, is part of a larger effort to establish a four-year art degree through UAS and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in New Mexico.

“This is a major step toward making our area the Northwest Coast arts capital and to ensure the perpetuation and advancement of our ancient art practices, which are on par with the greatest art traditions in the world,” said SHI President Rosita Worl.

The development of the UAS NWC Arts Program, supported by SHI through a more than $500,000 three-year grant, led to the launch of this new degree. The AA degree is administered by the School of Arts and Sciences and provides a solid foundation in mathematics, written and oral communication, the natural and social sciences, the humanities and fine arts.

Students who earn an AA would have the option to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts from IAIA through a memorandum of agreement with SHI or through another university. Students could also work toward a bachelor’s degree in arts and sciences or education at UAS or the broader University of Alaska system.

The program will require students to complete courses in Alaska Native studies, Indigenous performing arts and a language class on beginning Tlingit, Haida or Tsimshian, as well as Northwest Coast design, art history and culture, art theory and practice, and career development for artists.

The program includes courses on fiber arts spinning, basketry, tool making, carving, and woolen weaving among other things.

More details on requirements and course options will be published in UAS’s fall catalog.


Sealaska Heritage Institute is a private nonprofit founded in 1980 to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures of Southeast Alaska. Its goal is to promote cultural diversity and cross-cultural understanding through public services and events. SHI also conducts social scientific and public policy research that promotes Alaska Native arts, cultures, history and education statewide. The institute is governed by a Board of Trustees and guided by a Council of Traditional Scholars, a Native Artist Committee and a Southeast Regional Language Committee.

CONTACT: Amy Fletcher, SHI Media and Publications Director, 907.586.9116,; Dr. Thomas Thornton, UAS Dean of Arts and Sciences and Vice-Provost for Research and Sponsored Programs, 907.796.6531,

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