Parsons School of Design has announced it will replace its current one-year Master of Arts lighting degree with a two-year Masters of Fine Arts program. Starting in September 2004, the curriculum will expand its offerings in the areas of light perception, history theory, sociology, daylighting and sustainability, while continuing its strong core of technical coursework. The new curriculum will allow lighting students to work directly with graduate students in architecture and interior design, as the school promotes a cross-disciplinary 'dialogue' between design professionals.

'Lighting design is a very underappreciated discipline, given its significance in the built environment. There is a perception that it's a technical service rather than a discipline with a deep history-one that has been aesthetically and psychologically critical in the shaping of social life. We're hoping to change all that,' says Peter Wheelwright, chair of the Architecture, Interior Design, and Lighting Department.

Since its inception in 1984, the lighting program at Parsons has moved to the forefront in lighting education. The graduate degree program was the first in the field of architectural lighting, and is the only program focused primarily on design and social practice. The work of Parsons Lighting students is regularly recognized in lighting design competitions and merit scholarships. Program director JoAnne Lindsley, the immediate past president of the IALD, and principal of Lindsley Consultants, will continue to direct the 30-member faculty. elizabeth donoff