Innovation a hallmark of new Arts programs

by Bruce Mason
Staff writer

Two innovative new programs will revolutionize Arts education at UBC.

Both the Arts Co-op and Foundations Program build on earlier success but also represent radical change in the Faculty of Arts.

Arts Co-op provides the first opportunity for students studying in all 15 Arts departments -- ranging from Economics to French, Music and Psychology -- to combine relevant, paid work experience with academic studies.

The Foundations Program recognizes that small group, interdisciplinary learning can greatly benefit first-year students.

"When I first came down to UBC from a small high school in Kamloops 42 years ago I found it to be a daunting, forbidding and intimidating space. I almost quit to take bulldozing driving lessons in Nanaimo," says Political Science Prof. Paul Tennant, director of the Foundations Program. "I'm delighted to be spending my final years at UBC making it a welcoming, supportive, but still challenging place."

Central to the Foundations Program, which will be offered in September 2000, is a radically new curriculum and approach to teaching.

Half the student contact hours will be in tutorial groups with no more than 20 members. Each course will be designed and team-taught by three faculty members from different departments, chosen for their scholarly reputation and teaching.

The program builds on the success of the 30-year-old Arts One Program which integrates the three humanities disciplines of English, History and Philosophy. Arts One will continue, says Tennant. The new program, however, provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary introduction to the social sciences as well as humanities.

The curriculum contains three broad thematic courses: Routes to the 21st Century, Knowledge Bases and Approaches to Social Understanding.

Existing space will be renovated to create a Foundations learning commons containing tutorial rooms, a study area, computer facilities and a lounge for informal discussion among students and faculty, says Tennant.

The Arts Co-op program builds on the strong history of co-operative education at UBC and the success of the English Dept.'s pilot project last year, says Julie Walchli, program director. B.C. Hydro, Creo Products and Self-Counsel Press are among the employers who have hired English students.

"Arts students have critical thinking and outstanding communications skills demanded in the new, knowledge-based economy," she says.

Walchli says Arts Co-op will share the features that distinguish UBC co-operative education from other programs in B.C.

Faculty work directly with co-op students before, during and after their work terms, bringing their expertise to the workplace and encouraging collaboration between university and industry.

Students will complete four, four-month work terms during the last three years of their degree. Seventy students entered Arts Co-op in April and the first work terms begin in January. More students will be added each year.

Co-op programs have tripled in size at UBC in the past six years and 91 per cent of UBC co-op students have job offers when they graduate.

The Arts Co-op and Foundations programs are the result of objectives set out in UBC's Trek 2000 vision document. Both received start-up funds from the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund.

For more information call the Arts Co-op and Foundations Office at 604-822-1529, or visit the Web sites: and