Starting this fall, UFV will be offering first-year Bachelor of Arts students a new way to dive into university studies. The ARTS 100 course will provide students with a focused and interdisciplinary way to get some of the lower-level requirements of the BA program under their belts. This new 9-credit course will also introduce students to the skills and resources they need to succeed in university.
“The course is designed to jumpstart the university experience for first-year students in arts, and is shaped by the research and teaching interests and passions of the faculty involved,” says Melissa Walter, one of two professors who will be teaching the course in the fall.
Students will attend three days a week, and the class will meet the writing requirement and the reasoning requirement for the BA program. The main focus of the course will be anthropology and literature, but ARTS 100 will also introduce ideas from other disciplines, such as history, geography, and biology. The topics will be taught as a cohesive whole.
“We will not have an ‘alert, now this is the anthropology part’ sign that we hold up,” Walter says. “The idea of the course is to explore a topic in depth from an intellectual but also a practical local perspective, and to introduce students to the passionate pursuit of knowledge as practised at UFV, as well as helping them pursue their goals and interests.”
Rather than centre the course around a subject, ARTS 100 is structured around a theme, combining several courses into an interdisciplinary syllabus. The very first section, offered in the coming Fall 2012 semester, has a theme of “Homes and Homelands.”
“From the outset of our planning, we wanted ARTS 100 to reflect UFV’s regional mission,” says Susan Fisher, Associate Dean of Arts. “We thought this theme would allow us both to examine our local area and to look more broadly at how home and nationality have been conceived in other times and places.”
ARTS 100 will also take a different sort of approach in terms of teaching style: the class itself is split between two professors (Melissa Walter and Nicola Mooney), and the students will be divided into smaller groups for an attached lab section. The course will focus on a variety of teaching environments, including traditional university lectures, but also mini-seminars by guest speakers and a lot of project-based work.
Students will need to set aside Fridays to allow for a variety of field trips around the Fraser Valley — over the course of the semester, students will travel to museums and galleries, as well as specific neighborhoods and communities, to tie into the theme of “Home and Homelands.”
There are 60 spots open in ARTS 100. Hopes are high that all 60 of these spots will fill, and this is likely, given the high demand for first-year courses at UFV. Unfortunately, the option isn’t yet in place to add another section should the waitlist expand rapidly, notes Fisher.
“We won’t be able to offer another section this year,” Fisher says. “As you can imagine, planning an interdisciplinary course with field trips and projects takes a lot of time.”
“However,” she continues, “If it is successful, we will plan to offer more than one section in September 2013.”