Performing Arts & Social Justice Major

PASJ teaches students how to combine their passion for making art with their desire to make a positive impact on their communities and their world. We believe that the performing arts are an integral part of social change, and that artists have a responsibility to examine and transform social injustices. By connecting academic theory to artistic practice, providing many performance opportunities on campus stages, and taking students off-campus to engage in community-based artistic projects, the PASJ program gives students a robust tool-kit to use to achieve their future artistic and social goals.

Theater Concentration in the PASJ Major
Dance Concentration in the PASJ Major

Music Concentration in the PASJ Major

Supported by USF’s thriving liberal arts environment, our innovative programs promote technical and academic rigor, individual artistry, community engagement, and social action. Our faculty and staff are committed to providing coursework, activities, and productions that acknowledge and study the performing arts’ role as an agent of creative and social change. We strive to achieve academic and artistic excellence in the classroom, on stage, and in the community, preparing students professional for a variety of careers in the performing arts, while working towards creating a more humane and just society.

The PASJ program is designed to develop a dialogue between faculty, students and community organizations. Our service learning courses and community based performances are co-investigations with community participants, in which students, professors and community partners are joined in scholarly and artistic inquiry. Our Community Partners have included: Community Works, Resolve to Stop the Violence Program, San Francisco Sheriff's Department, Mission Cultural Center, CounterPulse, St. Anthony's, Institute on Aging, The Bethany Center, the San Francisco Opera.

About the PASJ Major

The PASJ major is a 48-unit course of student with concentrations in dance, music, or theater. Every PASJ major takes general foundational courses on the history of their artistic forms, theory & practice of community-based art making, and behind-the-scenes production work. The remaining units in the major are specific to the craft of the specific concentration.  The six foundational courses are:

    PASJ 160-series: Body & Performance  (2 units)

    PASJ 170-series: Production & Design (2 or 4 units)
    PASJ 180-series: [Dance/Music/Theater] and Social History (4 units)
    PASJ 280 Contemporary Performance Practice (4 units)
    PASJ 380 Performing Arts & Community Exchange (SL) (4 units)
    PASJ 480 Senior Project (4 units)

The remaining units will be specific to the practice and craft of the emphasis (see details for each emphasis, below):

Theater Concentration

Theater Program Coordinator and academic advisor: Christine Young (

Theater Emphasis courses in the PASJ major builds building the foundation necessary to create theater in our changing world, by providing students with technical training, room for personal exploration and artistic expression, and the social and historical context in which theater is made.  San Francisco provides a unique laboratory in which our students engage the world. The goal of the major is to develop artists who are not only technically competent and versatile, but who have also explored the conceptual, compositional and creative processes underlying theater as an artistic form. 

A Theater Concentration in the PASJ Major requires completion of the following, in addition to the six foundational courses that all PASJ majors take: 

THTR-120 Acting I: Spoken Text (2 units)
THTR-220 Acting II: Scene Study (4 units)
THTR-225 Theater in Community (4 units)
THTR-230 Composition I (4 units)
THTR-272 Workshop In Play Production (4 units)
THTR-320 Acting III: Viewpoints  (4 units)
THTR-3XX Performance & Culture Series (4 units)
THTR-330/349 Theater Technique Electives (8 units)


Dance Concentration

Dance Program coordinator and academic advisor: Amie Dowling (

Dedicated to the belief that the arts, and the artists who practice them, do no exist in a vacuum, but are active participants in the process of shaping our communities and our culture, the USF Dance Program provides students with a holistic course of study that places equal value upon the artistic development and the cultural consciousness of its students. All students receive comprehensive technical training in all levels of contemporary dance, ballet, and jazz theater, as well as courses in Laban Movement Analysis, Music for Dancers, Contact Improvisation, Conditioning for Dancers, Hip Hop, West African Dance, and a rotating roster of traditional dance & culture classes. Core courses focus on composition, choreography, pedagogy, and the political and social histories that shape the contemporary performance landscape. Our dance faculty includes established educators, choreographers, and performers, many of whom maintain an active presence in the SF Bay Area dance scene.

A Dance Concentration in the PASJ Major requires completion of the following, in addition to the six foundational courses that all PASJ majors take:

DANC-210-03/322 Modern Technique (6 units)
DANC-210-01/320 Ballet (2 units) 
DANC-151 Contact Improvisation/Partnering (2 units)
DANC- Music for Dancers (2 units)
DANC-230 Composition I (4 units)
DANC-231 Composition II (4 units)
DANC-360 Dance in the Community (4 units)
DANC-200-300 series Electives (4 units) 
Participation in 2 USF Dance Ensemble Productions 
Participation in tech support of 1 Performing Arts Department production

Music Concentration

Music program coordinator and academic advisor: Francesca Rivera (

Our program provides students with foundational studies in common practice theory and harmony, training in both historiographic and ethnographic methods, and a variety of performance opportunities that are open to all levels of music experience.  Our campus' location in one of the most musical cities in the United States allows students to integrate contemporary performance with academic study.

A Music Concentration in the PASJ Major requires completion of the following, in addition to the six foundational courses that all PASJ majors take:
MUS 300 Theory I* (4 units)
MUS 301 History of Western Music [pre-req: MUS 300] (4 units)
MUS 305 Anthropology of Music (4 units)
MUS 390 Seminar in Western Art Music (4 units)
MUS 2XX Music Elective: Core Area F (4 units)
MUS 31X Theory/comp topics [pre-req: MUS 300] (4 units)
MUS 21X Private Lessons  (4 units): all majors must take two semesters worth of directed private study in an instrument or voice.
MUS 11X instrumental or vocal ensembles: all majors must participate in 4 semesters of performance with one of our USF ensembles.

* Placement test for MUS 300 required. Lower placement test scores require MUS 100 before MUS 300. AP scores 4 and 5 will exempt you from MUS 300. Also note: MUS 300 is a pre-req for most 300-level music classes.