English’s very own Dr. Kathy Acheson has now taken on the new position of Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs. Find out what she’s been doing to, in her words, to “make it easier for faculty and staff advisors to support student progress towards that hat-flinging moment of joy, convocation.”
New and improved Academic Plans!
By Kathy Acheson, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs
Over the last two years we’ve done a major renovation of the 28 plans that outline what Arts students have to do to earn their degrees. We’ve streamlined the curriculum, opened up choices, and made it easier to make changes along the academic career path. The new plans are more flexible, so students can customize their degrees by adding a minor to their major or pursuing a specialization within their major. The new plans will also make it easier for faculty and staff advisors to support student progress towards that hat-flinging moment of joy, convocation.
How will the new plans affect you?
The new plans will go into effect September 2016. Students enrolled at that time can switch in to the new plans if they want to (but they can’t pick and choose bits and pieces from the old and the new – it has to be one or the other!). The Arts Undergraduate Office (AUO) has prepared one-page guides for each plan that show the changes to the degree requirements and the pros and cons of switching. These will be distributed as part of a comprehensive communication plan for students and faculty near the beginning of the fall 2015 term. Faculty and Staff advisors are eager to put in place the new plans, which promise to help them support students even better than they already do.
More of our students will be able to graduate with Honours, and more will be able to take courses and specializations that are only open to Honours students. Given the diversity of our offerings and our students, specifics about the new plans need to be distributed in a coordinated fashion so that students are not confused about eligibility, and advisors are properly prepared for students’ questions. Once these support materials (one-page guides and updates to the Advisors’ Handbook) have been distributed, students will be in a position to choose how to proceed. Stay tuned!
New first-year programming
We want every first-year BA student to have a taste of the best that Arts has to offer: great teaching in small classes, inspiring experience shared with a close-knit group of peers, and the development of competencies that lead to transformative insights and creative solutions to pressing problems. So we’re busy designing two courses that will be offered in 25-student sections and taught by full-time, experienced instructors. One course will focus on how we ask questions and frame answers, and the other will explore how we gather, analyze, and disseminate information.
The courses will be ready to go in Fall of 2017. They will give every BA student a strong foundation to build on in the rest of their academic career and connections with their instructors and their colleagues that will help sustain their success at University.
In the Arts Strategic Plan we committed to developing new career-focused, interdisciplinary minors. We’re very proud to be rolling out minors in Digital Arts Communication, Technical Writing, International Trade, and Public Policy and Administration in Fall 2015. These minors are open to all Arts students, so a student could do an Econ major with a Public Policy and Admin minor, or a Psychology major with a Digital Arts Communication minor, or an English major with an International Trade minor…the possibilities are almost endless! This is one way that the new, streamlined plans have made it easier for students to take advantage of the rich diversity Arts has to offer.
This article originally appeared in Inside Arts, Summer 2015.