Academic Plan

1. Introduction

The presentation of the University of Alberta Academic Plan, Dare to Deliver 2011-2015, provides the occasion for the Faculty of Arts to consider and present our own goals and priorities. It is especially important to do so in the current environment of change and financial challenges, as the faculty needs to both prioritize and position itself in anticipation of better times.

In this document we present four areas of particular importance to our progress and growth as a Faculty: Engaged people as the key to a great Faculty; Educating engaged citizens, leaders, and scholars; Groundbreaking research and creative work; and Pathways to excellence. We believe that these goals and priorities align very well with those identified in Dare to Deliver 2011-2015, and with the four cornerstones originally articulated in Dare to Discover, though the emphasis may, of course, differ somewhat.

The four areas developed below all derive from one over-arching goal: To make the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta a destination of choice for faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students. We aim to create an environment where people are proud to work and study; a place of innovative teaching and learning, and of top-notch research and creative work. In our view, such a goal is entirely appropriate to the largest Faculty at Alberta’s premier research university, and is attainable through the ongoing development of our current strengths in all these areas.

2. Engaged people (students, staff, and faculty) are the key to a great Faculty.

Dare to Discover’s first cornerstone is Talented People. Similarly, people must be the focus of our vision for the Faculty of Arts. The Faculty of Arts aims to foster a diverse community of engaged individuals. Ideally, engagement means a relationship that simultaneously maximizes the benefits to BOTH the individual AND the organization. Thus, engaged students maximize their own educational experience from, and their contribution to, the life of the Faculty. Engaged faculty and staff maximize their own professional development from the opportunities provided by the Faculty while also enhancing the life of the Faculty. Thus, we seek people with passion for the research, teaching, and learning missions of the Faculty, people grounded in expertise in various disciplines and connected through community and interdisciplinary initiatives. We will strive to increase our effectiveness through the following initiatives:

  1. Celebration of Success: Recognize, promote, and enhance our existing areas of excellence. We have many great scholars, teachers, artists, graduate and undergraduate students, and staff. We must showcase our achievements!
  2. Create a communications strategy articulating the vital roles and contributions of Arts education, creative work, and scholarship across the University and beyond.
  3. Increase collaboration with each other and involvement in our communities: local, national, and international.
  4. Enhance and strengthen our commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

3. Educating engaged citizens, leaders, and scholars.

An Arts education develops vital, adaptable skills in its graduates, including leadership, analytical thinking, and creativity, skills that are applicable in a wide range of fields. We emphasize an inclusive, innovative and flexible curriculum that will not only prepare our graduates for the challenges ahead, but above all provide them with the knowledge, skills and vision to make them leaders in their fields. The following priorities will further advance our aims:

  1. Review and reform the curriculum to ensure that our graduates are prepared as citizens, leaders, and scholars for future challenges and opportunities. Such graduates must be creative and highly adaptable, and must be armed with critical intellectual skills, knowledge, and experience of the world that transcends traditional boundaries. Opportunities for students to participate in innovative research and creative activities with faculty will be a particular priority in achieving those goals.
  2. Develop an enhanced and consistent international strategy. This is necessary both to attract the best international graduate and undergraduate students, and to ensure opportunities for international experience for our Canadian students.
  3. Emphasize the development of professional capacities that are vital for life-long learning and career growth, ensuring that appropriate opportunities are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Provide increased experiential opportunities through internships, research and performance opportunities, CSL, career planning and advising.
  4. Offer continued and enhanced support in teaching and learning for junior and senior faculty in terms of strategies, planning, feedback and technology through collaborative engagement.
  5. Establish an Honours College to recruit the most talented students nationally and internationally, and to enhance the educational experience, breadth and skills of our best students. This is proposed as a central plank in Arts Faculty undergraduate reform.

4. Groundbreaking research and creative work.

The Faculty of Arts is a center for a broad spectrum of excellent research and creative works, and it will continue to promote and support innovative, solution-oriented and explorative research at the international level. This will involve all sectors of the faculty’s scholars --- faculty, graduate and undergraduate students --- thus promoting a broad sense of participation and training. The Faculty will develop and enhance its capacities and reputation in the following ways:

  1. Build a larger, more prominent international presence through the creation of and participation in research networks, exchanges for faculty and students, and strategic partnerships, engaging in global and cross-cultural projects at all levels of research.
  2. Identify and encourage transformational research and creative opportunities, and obtain sustainable funding and other resources for them.
  3. Augment the impact of our research and creative works by increasing collaboration among faculty and students across the Faculty and University, and with our community partners, local, national, and international.
  4. Support innovative graduate training, encourage networking opportunities, and provide outlets for graduate student research and creative work in terms of research, development and final dissemination. This includes traditional methods of seminars, conference events, and publications, but also performance workshops, technical production experimentation, exhibition and performance, collaborative projects integrating creative work and scholarship across disciplines (e.g., drama-music visual arts-writing connections; media and game development), and may involve visiting artists and researchers through residency programs.

5. Pathways to excellence.

Transformational Organization and Support is another pillar of Dare to Discover that has immediate application to the Faculty of Arts. While the goals listed above are central to our vision of the Faculty of Arts, we must also identify those developments and improvements that are required to support the Faculty as it strives to meet these goals.

  1. Space—instruction, performance, research and social—is a critical issue for the Faculty. Enhancing and revitalizing critical resources and space such as for research, performance, and exhibition, for labs, or other space-sensitive programs will attract graduate students and advance innovation through traditional and nontraditional research and performance.
  2. A comprehensive IT strategy is needed to ensure that the administrative, instructional, creative, and research needs of the Faculty are met, both in the near term and in the future. New technologies provide new opportunities and creative possibilities, and recast the means of addressing educational and societal issues, but also make new demands. Arts faculty, students, and staff are deeply engaged in these creative ventures and this engagement must be facilitated in the future.
  3. Responsive, effective, and efficient governance is critical to the well being of the Faculty. Engagement in and commitment to the Faculty depend on collective dialogues on governance issues involving faculty, staff, and students in charting our future. Such collective dialogue, deliberation and responsibility must be further encouraged within the Faculty of Arts.

Conclusion

This plan adapts and applies the four cornerstones developed in Dare to Discover and the goals and priorities identified in Dare to Deliver, 2011-2015, to the Faculty of Arts. We believe that the vision presented in this plan can establish the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alberta as a leading Arts faculty in North America through an emphasis on creating a supportive environment for all our very talented people and on creating the organizational structures and processes that encourage world-class, globally connected research, creative work, and teaching