Arts One celebrates 40 years
By Aneeta Dastoor
Arts One, the integrative first-year program, is getting ready to move out of its little green house on University Boulevard and into a new home, which it will share with three other first-year cohort programs — Coordinated Arts, Science One, and Coordinated Science.
October 12, 2007 | As alumni mill about the little green house, leafing through Plato in the student lounge, musing under the old maple tree, and steeping in memories, the 40-year old Arts One program is growing up, making new friends, and moving out.
The integrative first-year program is getting ready to move into a new home next fall, which it will share with three other first-year cohort programs — Coordinated Arts, Science One, and Coordinated Science.
To go along with the new atmosphere, Arts One is also developing a science-based theme. Next year, Arts One will introduce Science Studies as one of its two streams, a change in tune from past topics such as Culture and Humanity, and Reason and Madness.
Roughly 100 alumni, from professors to poets to politicians, gathered at the open house on Sept. 15 to celebrate Arts One’s 40th birthday. Participants enjoyed a luncheon, attended a keynote speech, and joined in the resulting discussion about the role of the humanities in an increasingly technological time.
“Learning is not about a person who reads only in his own specialty and knows more and more about less and less,” said Professor Emeritus Ed Hundert, capturing the essence of the multi-disciplinary program in his keynote speech.
Hundert was involved with Arts One for 12 years as both a teacher and director; he also taught history at UBC for more than 30 years, and was honoured with a Killam Teaching Prize in 1992. The keynote speech sparked dialogue about the value of the program and the importance of the humanities.
Arts One combines history, philosophy, and English to teach classic texts and ideas from Homer to Hobbes to Nietzsche, not only through traditional lectures but also through discussion groups and essay tutorials.
The innovative program began in 1967 and has served as the model for similar courses in universities across Canada and the U.S. It takes 200 new students under its wing every year and has produced more than 5,500 alumni to date.
After Hundert’s talk, hands flew up in the lecture hall as alumni and faculty began an informal discussion.
“Arts One teaches the most important thing: how to think,” said a man from the very first class of ’67, sitting in the back row. “And we should advertise this so people know the actual benefits of the program.”
Another suggested the program could strengthen itself by “breaking down the wall between arts and sciences,” and working with the other side to maintain learning-centred programs.
Fittingly, when Arts One moves out of its little green house on University Boulevard, it will be moving in with Coordinated Arts, Science One, and Coordinated Science.
The programs will share lodgings in the new Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, which is scheduled to open in 2008. Phase 2 of the $75.5 million facility will also house the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies, and feature new technology, including a videoconferencing facility.
“The Arts One House isn’t going away,” said Professor Margery Fee, director of the program, “and people can still make little pilgrimages.”
Fee says the move will open up new opportunities to interact with sister programs.
“We’re hoping the students and faculty will get together, learn from each other, and think about ways these different programs might interact in the future,” she said.
Fee also talked about the development of a new theme for next year’s program — Science Studies.
“It’s not as alarming as it sounds,” she said.
The class will look at the big philosophical questions behind science — why do we think science is so important? Does it find truth?
“Arts One is all about the big questions,” Fee added.
“It’s not just for the sake of being able to write a bibliography, or getting an ‘A’ from a teacher. We’re engaged in an intellectual project. We’re producing knowledge.”
© 2007 The Faculty of Arts at the University of BC