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Katja Gilman

Katja Gilman

Katja Gilman is a senior from Florida. She is majoring in Public Policy and Visual Arts with a minor in Russian Language and Culture. In addition to her thesis, she is currently working on her year-long Distinction project in the Visual Arts. During her time at Duke, she has served on several committees including, Sanford’s POLIS and DUU Visual Arts, as well as co-founded a new organization called Devils Dialogues. In addition to this, she was a key researcher at the Duke University Medical Center for two years before switching to her current job at a NC non-profit that helps low-income families find homes. After graduation, she hopes to attend business school and, eventually, work in the art sphere.

Honors Thesis: 

The Art of Effective Arts Programs: Characteristics of Arts Programs in American Universities

Faculty Advisor: Professor Kenneth S. Rogerson

Abstract: For years, the arts have held an unstable place in undergraduate education. However, with employers placing a larger emphasis on 21st century skills, educators have started to turn to the arts to help students develop their social and cognitive skills, which would better prepare them for the workforce. With a large gap in research on university arts programs, this thesis attempts to identify the characteristics of successful arts programs and factors that may influence those characteristics. With student engagement as the key marker of success for a program, a new engagement model specific to arts programs was constructed. For data collection, 382 faculty and staff across 166 U.S. colleges and universities were surveyed about arts programs at their respective schools. This created a new database of information about arts in higher education. The responses were analyzed using the newly constructed model of student engagement. The results showed two main findings. First, faculty plays a key role in the student engagement process. Second, the university culture has an impact on faculty, which in-turn has an impact on student engagement in arts programs. Overall, this thesis contributes to two different conversations of 1) student engagement and 2) arts programs in undergraduate education.