Explore fashion as a complex cultural phenomenon

In the Fashion Studies major, courses study the history of design and image making, the sociological and communicative processes of the making of fashion, the role of technological innovation, as well as theories of product management, branding, and marketing. In the context of the liberal arts BA degree at Franklin University Switzerland, the interdisciplinary major of Fashion Studies offers the possibility for students to construct particular emphases according to their interest in the field. The program prepares students for entry-level positions in careers of fashion as well as trend research in a variety of fields, including archives, museums, galleries, media, consulting, the publishing sector, retailing, distribution, design, and the fashion business. Students may also choose to pursue design careers or advanced research of fashion towards an MA or Ph.D. degree.


The Fashion Studies Major offers an interdisciplinary course of study composed of courses from the disciplines of Art History and Visual Culture, Communication and Media Studies, International Management, with further options in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies, and Visual Communication Arts and Studio Art courses.

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Fashion Studies

The Fashion Studies major offers an interdisciplinary course of study composed of courses from the disciplines of Art History and Visual Culture, Communication and Media Studies, International Management, with further options in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies, and Visual Communication Arts and Studio Art courses. Fashion Studies at Franklin considers fashion a complex human and cultural phenomenon. Respective courses study the history of design and image making, the sociological and communicative processes of the making of fashion, the role of technological innovation, as well as theories of product management, branding, and marketing. The interdisciplinary major of Fashion Studies offers the possibility for students to construct particular emphases according to their interest in the field. The program prepares students for entry-level positions in careers of fashion as well as trend research in a variety of fields, including archives, museums, galleries, media, consulting, the publishing sector, retailing, distribution, design, and the fashion business. Students may also choose to pursue design careers or advanced research of fashion towards an M.A. or Ph.D. degree.

Major Requirements (42 Credits)

Foundation Courses (12 Credits)
AHT 103 Introduction to Art History and Visual Culture II: High Renaissance to Contemporary Art

The course is the sequel to AHT 102 and offers an introduction to the history of art and visual culture from the High Renaissance to the present day. It studies early modern painting, sculpture, architecture, and prints within their historical, social, and cultural contexts, as well as photography and new media in the modern and contemporary world.

BUS 135 Introduction to Business Systems

The course introduces the global business system in the context of the economic, political, social and technological environments, relating business to society as a whole. Topics covered include the international scope, function, and organization of firms, and other fundamental concepts of multinational business. The course also addresses functional areas such as the value chain, production, marketing, human resources, and accounting.

COM 105 Introduction to Communication and Media Studies

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts and theories of communication and media studies as they apply to the ever-increasing intercultural interactions of a contemporary world. In particular, students will learn the basics of intercultural/international communication processes, gaining a foundation for developing intercultural communication competence.

FAS 100 Introduction to Fashion Studies

This course introduces students to Fashion Studies beginning with the history of the making of fashion, thus laying the groundwork for the understanding of fashion as a creative and cultural phenomenon from the Renaissance to the present day. It then examines fashion as a dynamic communication process that is based on everyday social interactions in the contemporary world. In this section, special attention is paid to media representations, interactions with cultural industries, subcultural practices, and the impact of emerging technologies, exploring how the fashion process becomes an integral part of the identity formation. Finally, the fashion process is analyzed from the business perspective with a particular focus on marketing. Taking the classic concept of product life cycle, students learn how the fashion industry and consumer behavior propagate new trends in society.

Required Courses (6 Credits)

Two of the following:

AHT 270 Theories and Methods in Art History and Visual Culture

The course introduces students to the theories and methods of art history and visual culture. It addresses both traditional and innovative models from art history and how to apply methodologies from other disciplines to the study of the visual world. Students will conduct original research projects using a variety of critical approaches to put their theoretical knowledge in practice.

BUS 256 Marketing Research Methods

This course introduces students to the most common qualitative and quantitative techniques for conducting marketing research with an emphasis on their application. The definition of marketing research problems, the set-up of research plans, and the subsequent data collection and analysis are illustrated and applied by means of real world projects. Students are required to implement, in groups, the skills covered in class, and to prepare a final research report to discuss and present in class.

COM 203 Communication Research Methods

This course introduces students to quantitative and qualitative research methods as they apply to communication and media studies. Students will acquire skill in examining various communication and media issues by conducting an original research project.

Major Electives (21 Credits)

Seven of the following (at least three courses must be at 300-level or above)

(Elective courses must come from at least three different disciplines)

AHT 216 Introduction to the History of Photography

This course offers an introduction to the history of photography from its inception in the early 19th century to the present day. It considers the specific historical development of the photographic medium through the evolution of both its technical possibilities during the period and the range of its applications. The course will question past and present readings of photographs, while reflecting on the peculiar modes of representation implied by the use of the daguerreotype, the calotype and the negative-positive photographic process, the commercialization of photographic equipment in the early 20th century, the introduction of the Kodacolour film in 1942, and the changes in the late 20th century with the introduction of the digital camera. It will consider a set of different objects favored by the medium, such as the landscape, the city, the portrait, the body, taking into account the historical socio-political contexts in which these various photographic practices developed. It will consider the history of genres within photography: documentary photography, photography as fine art, photography in advertising and media, fashion photography, as well as its archival and historical documentation. Finally, the course will emphasize the question of the impact and influence of photography on other artistic mediums, such as painting and literature, as well as on the modern and contemporary experience of the world.

AHT 285T Technology in Art, Visual Communication, and Fashion

From early optical instruments to Renaissance printing presses, from camera obscuras floating on boats to portable paint tubes, from modern film cameras to laser sculptures, from computer robotics to 3D printing, technology continues to play a major role in art, visual communication, and fashion. It shapes both creative processes and production techniques in the making of visual culture and it affects and defines the status of the beholder of its manifold expressions. The course will investigate some of the milestones in the history of instruments and will take up contemporary technology to investigate the intertwined connection between man and machine in the creative world.

AHT 320 Anthropologies of Art

The course is taught in collaboration with the Museo delle Culture Extraeuropee of Lugano (www.mcl.lugano.ch) and takes place in the classroom and in the galleries of the museum at Villa Heleneum. It is not so much about the history of art but about the relations between artifacts and people in history. Treating topics such as the power of and in images, art and religion, art and social life, and art and communication, we will discuss how the deep structure of the human mind creates, relates to, and is reflected in artifacts of the Western world. At Villa Heleneum we will have the chance to study masks and other cult objects and their relations to the peoples from Oceania, Africa, and Asia together with museum curators. Classes will take place in front of exhibits and are structured around specific topics, including the meaning and value of the ethnical work of art, and photography and film in anthropology.

AHT 362 Visual Semiotics: Signs and Symbols in Art, Architecture, Film, and Fashion

The course will investigate the different types of sign languages that we find in the visual arts. It will study and discuss theories of semiotics and then investigate how each medium sets up its own method of visual communication through signs and symbols. What kinds of patterns of messages do we find in paintings? Do buildings have their own code of communication other than being functional containers? What kinds of messages does a film convey beyond its action? Do the clothes we wear make a statement? In addition to the theoretical aspect, the course will also contain an empirical and a studio component where students will conduct research on a particular topic, which they will then present in a visual medium of their choice.

BUS 136 Marketing in a Global Context

This course is an introduction to the tools and concepts used in the marketing process for consumer and industrial products as well as for services. The focus is on the basic marketing concepts (product, place, price, promotion) as they relate to the field of global marketing. Emphasis is placed on the increasingly important role of interdisciplinary tools to analyze economic, cultural and structural differences across international markets. Specific consideration is given to the development of integrated marketing programs for a complex, global environment.

BUS 285 Integrated Marketing Communications

This course exposes students to an integrated, global approach of two-way communication with consumers, customers and suppliers, and other stakeholders of companies and organizations. Students explore the communications process that is essential in contemporary global business cultures. Media options are explored for a range of target audiences. Discussions on the use of advertising, public relations, sales promotions, internet promotion, direct marketing and other techniques will be included. It takes a contemporary approach to the field of integrated marketing communications, highlighting how recent changes and rapid changes in the family, business environment, technology and the world in general are forcing communications specialists and advertisers to make major changes in the way they reach their markets. The course will draw on knowledge in fields such as psychology, sociology and anthropology, as well as media studies and communications.

BUS 274 Brand Management

The course focuses on how to build and manage a brand, based on the concept of Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE). The goal of the course is to expose students to the challenges that today brands face both from competitors' but also from consumers' points of view and to make students aware and to experience the potential tools companies can use to manage brands today.

BUS 385 Consumer Behavior in International Marketing

This course focuses on the understanding of the consumer as fundamental to marketing efforts. The course includes observational research in the community where students develop a greater understanding of consumers' consumption and decision-making behavior. Areas of focus include the consumer decision making process, research techniques, learning and motivation, segmentation and targeting, the impact of lifestyle and values, the role of society and culture in consumption, and ethical issues in consumer relationships.

CLCS 340 Fashion and Visual Culture

The focus of postmodernity on surface phenomena and diversity, its concern with the personal, the subjective and with identity have worked to make fashion a field of studies that has gained importance in the last 15 years. Aiming at getting past the age-old belief in the essential frivolity of fashion, this course examines how fashion draws upon recurrent instabilities of men and women (masculinity vs femininity, youth vs elderliness, domesticity vs worldliness, inclusion vs exclusion etc...) to thrive and express its creativity, how its ever constant shifting nature results in the notions of gender, ethnicity and class status to be ever more fluid, how it has been redefining the body and its image, in particular with the advent of the supermodel in the eighties, and last but not least, how it relates to and signifies within so many aspects of our daily life and environment, whether it be space (work vs domesticity, urban vs non-urban), photography (static vs dynamic), music (alternative vs pop) and sexuality.

COM 201 Fundamentals of Media Studies and Criticism

Media pervades our social and private lives. We make it and in turn it makes us. This course offers an introduction to media studies, a field which seeks to understand and use media in complex and intentional ways. The course explores media as content, as an industry and as a social force. In this way, media is understood as both as an artifact (constituted by many parts) and as a set of complex processes (including production, distribution, regulation and consumption). Students will learn key vocabularies and concepts in and approaches to media studies that will help them to define, describe, and critique media artifacts and processes in a variety of written and spoken formats. In addition to equipping students with the skills to understand and critique media, this course encourages and provides students with the building blocks to produce media content. Students who successfully complete this course will be prepared to take advanced courses in media studies.

COM 230T Communication, Fashion, and the Formation of Taste (Italy)

The sense of taste, whether it refers to the metaphorical sense of taste (aesthetic discrimination) or the literal sense of taste (gustatory taste), is a fundamental part of human experiences. This Academic Travel course examines various ways that communication processes shape our sense of taste in the contemporary society. It will explore topics such as the taste for food, clothing and accessories, music, and other cultural activities applying key theories and concepts of communication, fashion, and taste. Ultimately, the course seeks to develop an understanding of how interpersonal, intercultural, and mediated communication in our everyday life plays a critical role in the formation of individual taste as well as collective taste. In order to achieve this objective, field observations and site visits will be planned during the Academic Travel period.

COM 295 Media Consumption, Fashion, and Identity

This course examines how people, particularly young people, consume media technologies and their contents in contemporary media-saturated life. Employing essential readings on media consumption, fashion, and identity as the theoretical backbone, students will engage in active site-based research project throughout the course. By offering an opportunity to undertake a field study in Milan, the course seeks to develop in-depth theoretical knowledge of the intersections of media consumption, fashion, and identity, as well as to cultivate critical reflection of students’ own consumption of media technologies. (Additional fee: 250 chf for transportation and related activities in Milan)

COM 301 Globalization and Media

This course examines media in the context of globalization. Most broadly, students will explore what constitutes globalization, how globalization has been facilitated and articulated by media, how media have been shaped by the processes of globalization, and perhaps most significantly, the social implications of these complex and varied processes on politics, international relations, advocacy and cultural flows. In order to map this terrain, students will survey the major theories that constitute this dynamic area of study.

COM 310 Issues in Journalism

This course uses key topics, themes and trends in journalism to explore the foundations and functions of the press, learn techniques of gathering and writing news, discuss the shifting terrain of journalism, and reflect upon the status and functions of journalism in different cultural contexts. As a writing-intensive course, this course is designed to help students produce high quality written work through a process of drafting, workshopping and editing. Written work may include journalistic reviews, letters to the editor, pitches to the editor and interviews.

COM 330 The Digital Innovation and Media Strategies for a New Consumer Culture

Digital communication has been fundamental in today’s organizational, cultural, and consuming areas. With the continuous technological development, we have been witnessing the surge of digital innovations in recent years. This course examines key dimensions of digital innovations in the current consumer culture such as Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Geographical Referencing System, Review & Ratings algorithm, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, BOT and chatbot. The course explores not only the new brand and media strategies of companies but also self-branding strategies of operators, influencers and users/consumers with a special attention to the creative dimension of consumption experience. In this process, the differences between cross-media communication and trans-media storytelling will be discussed as these two strategies help organizations manage relationships between brand, product and consumers by the means of emerging media. Ultimately, students will develop a greater understanding of media strategies using digital innovations that can be applied in the professional context. (This course also applies as an elective in the Fashion Studies major.)

COM 350 Mediated Relationships

This course examines the impact of emerging communication technologies on human communication. By critically examining current theories and research in the field, students will analyze present and future of technologically-mediated relationships as these pervade their everyday life.

COM 327 Producing Digital Media: Communication and Media in Practice

This course explores the impacts and capacities of new media technologies in producing social worlds and advocating social issues. Following an exploration of the key concepts in new media theory, students in this course will spend the bulk of the semester producing a digital short story about an issue of social interest. As a course in applied media and communication, students will have a hand in the entire process of producing, marketing, and showing the film.

STA 200 Computer Graphics in Advertising

An introductory course to graphic design software and to the principles and practices of advertising graphics. Once the basics have been learned, the course covers the following aspects of graphic design: the psychology of advertising, the brief from the client and the working relationship between client and designer, font styles and typographic design, the company logo, letterhead, business cards etc., house-styling, company reports, brochures, flyers, book covers, color printing and printing processes. The course requires that initial design concepts be taken from the early stages through to finished art-work, i.e. the quality of finish required for presentation to the client.(This course carries a nominal fee for computer supplies)

STA 211 Intermediate Drawing

Intermediate course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 111. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects, exploring various media and investigating problems in drawing and perception. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 220 Heads and Bodies: the Human Head and Proportions in Art History, Theory and Practice

The human head is one of the most fascinating subjects in the history of art, and frequently perceived as one of the most difficult problems to tackle. The head is the basic unit of human proportions, and the key to human identity. This course will investigate the human head and human proportions in art - in painting and sculpture; in all periods and cultures. Through lectures and presentations, visits to museums or other places of interest and studio sessions, students will have the opportunity to study this subject in depth and to experiment with it using various techniques in the studio. Studio sessions and lectures will deal with the following topics: 1. Human proportions: fundamental concepts. 2. Ideal canons in the Western European tradition. 2.1 The head as basic unit. 2.2 Famous canons: the Golden Ratio, Polykleitos, Praxiteles, Vitruvian man, Leonardo, Le Corbusier. 2.3 Alignment of facial features: likeness. 2.4 Men, women and children; the ages of man. 2.5 Larger than life: comics and caricature. 2.6 The twentieth century. 3. Non-Western Ideals. 4. Beyond art and aesthetics: medicine, forensics and other applications. Studio assignments will be organized in the following media: drawing and related media, painting, clay modeling. Class sessions may involve trips off-campus to an exhibition or event. There is a course fee to cover materials and travel expenses.

STA 300 Computer Graphics in Advertising, Advanced

This course is fundamentally a follow-on from STA 200, Computer Graphics in Advertising. Throughout the semester, students are expected to complete a broad variety of projects, individually and in form of group work, and bring them to a finished state. Possible areas of concentration may include digital branding, interaction design, digital formats, innovative design, campaign design and corporate promotion. (This course carries a nominal fee for computer supplies).

STA 311 Advanced Drawing

A higher course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 211. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects, exploring various media and investigating drawing and perception. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

VCA 120T Documentary and Street Photography on Location: Munich

This course will investigate the particularities of both documentary and street photography through readings and studio projects. It will shed light on the history of photography; how the visual world communicates, studying the interaction of photography with other visual media; and will pay specific attention to the semiotic potential and challenges of photography. Students will engage in a project that relates to the location of the travel component of the class, documenting a subject of their choice. The Academic Travel destination will be Munich with additional day excursions to Bavaria and Austria.

VCA 200 The Arts of Independent Publication

In an increasingly digital age, books have experienced a renaissance as a privileged channel of independent creative expression. This course takes this resurgence as a starting point to investigate the historical forms and contemporary opportunities offered by the book medium to artists, writers and activists. First, students will be introduced to the history of the printing revolution in Europe, the development of typography and their impact on intellectual and political history. Second, the course will look at the production of artists’ books in the 19th and 20th century, in parallel with the advent of modernity, where numbered editions signalled a printing alternative to the rise of mass culture. Third, a strong emphasis is placed on exploring a range of models and opportunities offered by contemporary independent publishing. In that vein, the course will consider both material and virtual channels, taking into account the surge of digital technologies and their implications in both the return to the book as a physical object, and the connections the latter nurtures with its electronic parent. Students will look at the aesthetic, social and political remit of contemporary publishing practices, and will be asked to develop a personal publishing project. Recommended prerequisite: AHT 102 or AHT 103 or LC 100 or COM 201

Capstone (3 credits)

One of the following:

FAS 495 Senior Project in Fashion Studies

Senior projects are to be coordinated with the Division Chair. The course may carry a fee for art supplies.

FAS 497 Fashion Studies Internship

Internships are to be coordinated in advance with the faculty advisor and the Division Chair.


Professor, Art History and Visual Communication

Ph.D. (with distinction) Columbia University
M.Phil. Columbia University
M.A. Columbia University
B.A. University of Toronto
Interior Design Diploma, International Academy of Design
Foundations in Design Thinking Certificate, IDEO-U
Advanced Design Thinking Certificate, IDEO-U

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 14
Phone: +41 91 986 36 64
Email: jfassl@fus.edu

Johanna Fassl

Associate Professor, Art History and Visual Communication

Ph.D. Université Paris X
M.A. Université Paris X
B.A. Université Paris X

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 15
Phone: +41 91 986 36 51
Email: ggee@fus.edu

Gabriel Gee


Ph.D. in Business Administration and Management, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy,
Master Degree in Economics for Arts, Culture and Communication, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy

Office: Kaletsch Campus, Office 1
Phone: +41 91 985 22 78
Email: gminiero@fus.edu

Giulia Miniero

Professor, Communication and Media Studies

Ph.D. Rutgers University, USA
M.A. Wake Forest University, USA
B.A. Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 9
Phone: +41 91 986 36 57
Email: ssugiyama@fus.edu

Satomi Sugiyama

Chair of the Academic Division of Arts and Cultures

Ph.D. Princeton University
M.A. Princeton University
B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 6
Phone: +41 91 986 36 53
Email: cwiedmer@fus.edu

Caroline Wiedmer