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Foundation (Show All)
Course Course Number Credits
Connections through Color and Design CAIL101 3
A second-semester Integrated Learning studio course introducing Foundation students to contextually-based problem solving using fundamentals of color and design. Students learn Munsell color theory; practical aspects of color mixing such as value, hue and chroma; as well as computer color application. Students solve problems that engage the larger community, transdisciplinary practice, research, and collaboration.

Sophomore (Show All)
Course Course Number Credits
Creative Action Liberal Arts Elective CAIL200 3

Addresses a variety of issues in art, design, film, and culture from 1960 to the present. Students may focus on fine art, mass media, or design, or popular culture. See department schedule for topics.

Required for all undergraduate majors.

Examples of previous and planned CAIL200 courses
Designing the Political

This course investigates the role of artists and designers as powerful agents of protest and progress. Emphasis will be placed on a historical contextualization of political graphics to learn more about the role of propaganda, the face of the enemy, and the power of the visual text to shape the perception of the “other” for better or worse.

Partner: Center for the Study of Political Graphics

Homeboy Histories and Culture

This course explores personal experience narratives and how they are expressed in the visual arts by their narrators. In addition, this course focuses on identity and the way in which it is expressed: political, ethnic, and social identities serving as markers for social mobility and control.

Partner: Helper Foundation

LA Past Lives: A Virtual Architecture

This course will challenge students to reconstruct past physical and social nexuses of neighborhoods/ communities in L.A., combining both architectural and design components with art, cinema, and private histories of present and past community members. Students will generate an online archival display of L.A.’s past communities as part of this course.

Partner: Richard Riordan Central Library

Modern Mysticism and the Afterlife

This class explores the concept of the soul/spirit as viewed through modern mysticism, mystic individuals, and social movements. Students will look into crosscultural perspectives, rites of intensification, attend field trips for firsthand experience, and attempt to use or perform some of these practices and concepts in class.

Partner: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Museums: Public Engagement

The question of visitor engagement in the work of museums is especially heightened in Los Angeles, one of the world’s epicenters for the arts. How can the rich content of museums function as a useful resource for the way we live our lives? Can museums ignite the muse or inspiration in all of us? How do popcorn machine of cultural activity and be a place for solitude and contemplation? Can museums be a resource for the complex concerns of our time?

Partner: Getty Museum

Public Policy in the Arts

The LAX airport is developing art installations as an expression of the “public face” of Los Angeles. This course focuses on the management, implementation, selection process, and ongoing commitment to art exhibitions at LAX. Students discover how the public sector builds relationships with community partners, serving as a catalyst for the delivery of art, culture, and heritage, while offering entertainment at an internationally public site.

Partner: LA Cultural Affairs Department and LAX Airport

Examining the Civil Rights

The Civil Rights movement made far-reaching strides during 1956–1968. Students will discuss how this era reshaped American history, society, and culture from a multidisciplinary perspective. This course will also examine the events, figures, and issues central to the Civil Rights movement.

Partner: African American Museum

Comic Books and Social Issues

Students are introduced to the comic book plot structure and will learn how comic book creators use the comic book story to focus on socially relevant issues. Students will develop their own social conscientiousness by creating an original comic book story and script.

Partner: Museum of Tolerance

Life Stages

Students will work with the Culver City Senior Center. Students are then guided through a process in which they work individually and collectively to create an original script that explores personal identity, family history, and various compelling intergenerational issues.

Partner: Culver City Senior Center

Human Ecology

The course provides an introduction to the relationship among cultural, social, and ecological systems. A course goal is to advance awareness of how artists and designers can problem solve the issues collaboratively, beyond the confines of any one discipline.

Required for Sustainability minors.

Partner: Transition Mar Vista

Urban Farming

In this class, students will learn ethnographic theories and methods to apply to deepening our understanding of the ways urban farming and community gardens affect people’s lives, connecting to concerns in society and how the work of the artist can and does contribute.

Partner: Holy Nativity Episcopal Church Community Garden

Beasts of Myth and Fancy

Arabic, Chinese, and Medieval bestiaries populated the world and the imagination with creatures composed from parts and ideas in the natural world. Some of these creatures still populate our imagination, and their influence can be felt in all aspects of culture. This course will further explore the theme of creativity.

Partner: Santa Monica Aquarium

The Life of Art: Objects and Their Stories

Objects can tell tales. There are stories about how objects took their form, incurred damage, were restored, reached museums, or were owned by different people throughout generations. Some objects may be family heirlooms, part of collections, or are souvenirs, mementos, symbols or religious icons. We display objects so we and others can appreciate their physical characteristics, and we are eager to talk about them too. This course will explore the ways in which objects, through contexts of creation, ownership, collections, meaning and display, embody and inspire contemplation and discussion.

Partner: The Getty Museum

Reel Docs

This course presents nonfiction cinema about real people and critical issues that shape our lives and the world in which we live. Nonfiction films will be viewed as agents of change, critically and aesthetically, and we will examine the power of the medium to educate, enrich, and even change lives.

Partner: Filmaid International

Clay in LA: 1945–Present

Students learn LA history and Otis Clay’s 3 waves of innovation. Peter Voulkos, Ralph Bacerra, and Joan Takayama-Ogawa, while collaborating with former LACMA Decorative Arts Assistant Curator, Jo Lauria, and siter partner and Executive Producer of the PBS award winning documentary series Crafts in America, Carol Sauvion, to evaluate these creative epochs.

LA Past Lives: Schindler House

Explores the ways the Schindler House – an architectural landmark in Los Angles, has been transformed into its contemporary center combining historical, cultural and communal expressions. This course probes connections between the arts and the city.

Made in LA (Blended)

Site partner: PBS series Craft in America. This course introduces students to the history of prominent LA makers in clay, jewelry, furniture, fiber, and glass. Note: At least a 1/3 of instruction (5 weeks) is delivered online rather than via face-to-face contact.

Ideas About the Exotic

Site partner: The Getty Museum. From the Medieval period through the present, our objects and artworks demonstrate how we perceive, misunderstand and stereotype all other cultures. Intercultural communication will be explored in this course.

The Holocaust Museum

This course explores personal experience narratives and how they are expressed in the visual arts by their narrators. In addition, this course focuses on identity and the way in which it is expressed: political, ethnic, and social identities serving as markers for social mobility and control.

Junior (Show All)
Course Course Number Credits
Creative Action Learning Studio CAIL300 2

An upper-division interdisciplinary studio course offering unique core content that shifts from term to term. This studio affords students the opportunity to engage with professionals from various fields and expand their notion of problem solving beyond their major in public site real world challenges. A limited choice of CAIL300 courses will count for the Sustainability Minor. Please see the Interdisciplinary Studies Director.

Required for all undergraduate majors.

Examples of previous and planned CAIL300 courses
Ban the Bottle Abolish the Bag

Students learn ways to reduce plastic pollution in oceans, starting by conducting research on the impact plastic trash has on our local oceans, wildlife, and communities. They will then work in multidisciplinary teams to develop proposals to educate and encourage the reduction, reuse, and refusal of plastic bags, bottles, and containers.

Mobile Local: LA’s Food Truck Revolution

Mobile Local will focus on issues of social sustainability and cultural inuence through systemic understanding of Los Angeles and its unique cpedestrian culture. Qualitative, ethnographic research techniques, interviews, site visits, and eating will be used as primary research methods.

Partner: Surfrider

Comic Heroes: From 2–D to 3–D

An exploration of comics and their 3-D counterparts. Outcome may be an intriguing marketing promotion or perhaps a "final product" that could range from a virtual world, to an action figure, a digital game, or even a user-created and edited website.

Partner: Museum of Tolerance


Student teams learn about FM, AM, and Internet radio production, producing content that reports on, engages, and rediscovers the Westchester community. Students gain hands-on experience in the audio production studios at both Otis and LMU, while learning to listen, record, and edit the sound around them. They produce a creative, fun, and informative radio show, available online at Otis and rebroadcast on the LMU radio stations.

Partner: KXLU, KLMU

Branding with a Cause

Can branding and design be a catalyst of social change and innovation? Join us and The Spirit Awakening Foundation, a charitable arts organization dedicated to assisting “atrisk” youth and children in the juvenile justice system, and make a difference in the lives of others through art and design interventions.

Partner: Spirit Awakening Foundation

Neighborgapbridge: Changing the World, One Neighborhood at a Time

Can artists and designers collaborate and assume the role of ethnographers to investigate our Otis neighbors? Can they identify “gaps” in communication, interests, and values, and propose ”bridges” to connect them? Creative. Blue Sky. Out There. Walking Distance.

Partner: WC Senior Center, Loyola Village Elementary School, The Custom Hotel, Otis' Center for International Education

Otis Goes Green—Global Green USA

Provides art and design students with the knowledge and tools needed to make ecodesign an integral part of the design process. Students in this course will have an opportunity to help Otis become Green, discuss Green Design with top Green Designers, and attend a Green Design Show. We believe it is at the design education level where we have the best opportunity to create a sustainable future.

Partner: Otis College of Art and Design

Made for Kids: Childhood Learning and Development Studio

Otis students from all departments will develop tools, toys, clothing, and learning spaces for the students and faculty of a local elementary school.

Partner: Westside Global Leadership Magnet

Collaboration with Catastrophe: Disaster Design

Are we ready for the unexpected? If the Big One or another catastrophe hits Los Angeles tomorrow, how can artists and designers help to mitigate the crisis and participate in the rebuilding of LA? Results will range from preventative design, to survival design, to design for a postcatastrophic future.

Partner: City of El Segundo

Junior Blind

Multidisciplinary student groups engage in research and exercises, interacting with the students of Junior Blind and working blind artists, in an attempt to understand what it is to be visually impaired or blind. Art and design projects will be developed from collaborative “visually impaired” experiences to enable and enhance the creativity and imagination of the students at Junior Blind, and to encourage Otis students to rethink the ways in which the nonvisual world engages with art and design disciplines.

Partner: Junior Blind of America

Design Challenge: Ningbo, China

Students will learn about bamboo in an integrated context. Industrial: growing, harvesting, processing, physical properties, and sustainable attributes. Design: develop a toy that is in compliance with regulatory product safety laws, and of course, “fun.” Practicum: students will attend a month-long “Bamboo Workshop” near Ningbo, China. Each student will design, fabricate and finish a toy made of bamboo.

**This course will take place every other Monday during the spring semester, with one month in China during the summer.

Partner: Hape Toy

Design for Social Impact

Introducing students to the complexities of social design leadership and teach them to design local product systems that can be validated and then scaled to fit different contexts. Engaging directly with local communities in need, students will conduct hands-on research and develop actionable social design strategies, with an emphasis on systems and tools.

Partner: Urban Compass

The curriculum displayed is meant to provide an overview of the current LAS offerings; it does not represent full degree requirements for any Major or Area of Emphasis. These can be found in each student’s Course Catalog (identified by the year in which one would have entered the college as a Foundation student), which can be found on the Course Catalog and Student Handbook page in the Registration and Records area. If you have questions regarding your specific curricular requirements and/or Course Catalog, please contact Academic Advisement Coordinator Carrie Malcom at or (310) 846-2550.