[T]raditional education has students focusing on one career at a time, generally encompassing a very specific field of interest. Students interested in the field of medicine study biology and don’t generally study much outside of science. Or, students interested in music study musical theory and learn several different instruments – they don’t cross over into other fields of thought. This type of learning, however, really doesn’t reflect the way the world works. It doesn’t even properly reflect human experience: many students are puzzled when it comes to choosing a field of study. They settle on one because there hasn’t been an option available that combines their interests in a practical way, or it simply isn’t shown to them.
The interactions of this world, however, revolve around many different fields of thought combining and working together. People nowadays need to be educated in a way that properly represents this experience: the “big picture” experience. They need to be able to look to the future, expand horizons, and combine fields of interest and thought to reach a new level of innovation in today’s world.
In the fall of 2014, a new undergraduate program was created for just this kind of education. The University of Southern California has established the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation thanks to a $70 million gift from Jimmy Iovine and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young. This new program represents everything that learning through “big picture” thinking involves. It combines disciplines to create leaders and innovators with knowledge across subjects and the ability to think and analyze across disciplines. The Academy is geared specifically to those students whose interests are broader than just one field of study: they are the ones who will become the innovators in this world.
Who are Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young?
Jimmy Iovine is the cofounder of two music industry companies, Interscope records and Beats Electronics. Universal Music Group’s Interscope Geffen A&M Records was founded in 1990 and is home to some of the world’s greatest artists, such as U2, No Doubt, and Eminem. He has worked as a recording engineer and record producer with John Lennon, Tom Petty, and Stevie Nicks, among others. As a result of his years of experience and expansive career, Iovine was able to transform Interscope records into a truly significant leading recording company in the music business.
Andre “Dr. Dre” Young is a native of California and is an artist as well as producer. His career began in the 1980s as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Crew and N.W.A on Eazy E’s Ruthless Records imprint. In 1992, Dr. Dre went solo and received widespread praise for his work as an artist/producer at his label Death Row Records, with Marion “Suge” Knight. Dre eventually left to build his own record company, Aftermath Entertainment, in 1996 and produced records for 50 Cent, Eminem,, ,, to name a few.
Together, Iovine and Dr. Dre founded Beats Electronics in 2006. Beats Electronics specializes in high-performance headphones and other products surrounding audio transmission. The idea behind the company’s founding was to bring back the original sound to music. Dr. Dre felt that with the invention of earbuds, the real, original sound and quality was taken away from the music. Beats has expanded over the past several years into smartphones, car audio systems, and notebooks. The company is known for its high quality audio components, specifically headphones and speakers.
The Academy Difference
When these two music greats got together with the University of Southern California, they brought their unique experience and innovative thinking to the table to bring to life an exceptional, one-of-a-kind program. The Academy combines technology, business, and art to encourage imagination, change, and discovery. Students are encouraged to be visionary and to challenge traditional educational models. Throughout the program, students will explore new ideas and use technology to create new business models and art forms. This experience is engaging, rich, creative, and challenging.
|“The Academy’s core education will create a common, multi-lingual literacy and fluency across essential disciplines. This ‘big picture’ knowledge and skill will equip graduates with a leadership perspective that is unparalleled in an undergraduate degree, and that will be applicable to virtually any industry” — Erica Muhl, Inaugural Director of the USC Iovine Young Academy and Dean of the USC Roski School of Fine Arts|
Using all facets of their minds, students are encouraged to think intellectually and creatively; to collaborate, design, and inspire. In this environment, students will be able to create new strategies, new models, and new platforms. This type of collaborative thinking can only encourage innovation and creative solutions.
This experience is a four-year experience, just like a traditional four-year degree program. The curriculum is a combination of studies from the different fields of discipline – engineering and computer science, fine arts and graphic design, business, and leadership. Iconic guest speakers are regularly invited from related industries to offer their own special insight into innovation. Aside from general courses, the program consists of interdisciplinary courses that are team-taught, as would be expected of such a highly innovative program.
A Combined Effort
The USC schools participating in The Academy include the USC Roski School of Fine Arts, the USC Marshall School of Business, the USC Thornton School of Music, and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Faculty from each of these schools will combine their skills and knowledge in Academy courses.
USC Roski is known for its excellence in arts, being the oldest art school in Southern California. Its interdisciplinary approach aligns perfectly with the Academy’s philosophy. USC Marshall is ranked in the top 30 for business schools across the nation. The school is a pioneer in the business world and encourages the type of innovation sought in the Academy. USC Thornton is recognized as one of the best schools of music in the world with a range of artistic programs from performance to recording science. Such a variety of thought and study will allow students in the Academy to pursue specific interests and immerse themselves in the music and artistic industries. The USC Viterbi School of engineering is in the top 10 ranking of engineering schools across the United States and is home to 45 research centers, making it of irreplaceable value to the Academy.
“The vision and generosity of Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young will profoundly influence the way all of us perceive and experience artistic media,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “USC provides an extraordinarily rich academic, research and artistic environment. We are committed to encouraging our students to use their intellectual and creative resources to effect change in all segments of society. Our goal is to ensure that the Academy is the most collaborative educational program in the world.”
The program’s curriculum focuses on four areas: Arts and Entrepreneurship, Technology, Design and Marketability, Concept and Business Platforms, and Creating a Prototype. The first year of the program focuses on immersion. Students are literally immersed in a new way of thinking and working to encourage their imagination. The second year encourages students to choose a curricular emphasis (or several) and teaches them applied skills in computer code and programming while strengthening their abilities to think across disciplines.
The third year in the Academy prepares students for “The Garage,” the fourth year of the program. Students will learn how to take a project from concept all the way through to implementation. They will build proposals in anticipation of The Garage, when they will actually build a prototype. During the fourth year, in The Garage, students will focus on taking their concepts and ideas, testing and developing them, and presenting their final project as the capstone requirement for program completion. This fourth year experience is entirely unique and involves faculty members and business leaders from the university serving as mentors. Students will develop skills hands-on, working together and collaborating to build a product. The Garage is the culmination of their four years of study in the Academy.
The opportunities provided by this curriculum to the students are immeasurable. With this kind of degree, students will be prepared leaders and innovative thinkers qualified to work in any field they choose. They will become the next generation of change and discovery, taking on new challenges and bringing to life what others have only imagined.
For more information about the Academy at USC, visit their website at: http://iovine-young.usc.edu/