Rensselaer's Department of the Arts is generally considered to be the first integrated electronic arts program within a research university in the United States. Founded in 1972, the department initiated the inclusion of electronic media in 1981.The department features an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to the arts with a focus on the use of experimental and electronic media in artistic creation and performance. The work of the department's distinguished faculty and alumni are represented internationally in museums, galleries, festivals, publications, and performances.
The department and studios have historically been referred to as iEAR (Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer). A leader in multimedia arts education, the department's MFA in Electronic Arts was created in 1991 and, in collaboration with Rensselaer's Department of Language, Literature and Communication, the BS in Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC) was established in 1996. A multi-departmental BS in Information Technology (IT) was instituted in 1998 and in 2002, a BS in Electronic Arts (EARTS) was introduced. In 2007, a multi-departmental BS in Games and Simulation Arts and Science (GSAS) enrolled its first students and a doctorate in the electronic arts was inaugurated. One of the first PhDs of its kind, this program expands the traditions of arts pedagogy through interdisciplinary research in contemporary media theory, practice, and production. The iEAR studios provide specialized facilities for students, faculty and visiting artists to engage in individual and collaborative research projects.
iEAR Presents! is a series of public performances, exhibitions, screenings and lectures dealing with innovative aesthetic, cultural, and technical explorations of experimental media and electronic arts. Curated by Arts Department faculty, iEAR Presents! seeks to bring artists into a creative dialogue with the Rensselaer community and the general public.