Student Testimonials

"Great introduction to the tradition and a great way to engage in dialogue with past and present."

– Cameron Gray 1969/70

"Collegiality of students and profs learning together. Challenge to communicate and clarify one’s thoughts."

—Gary Pennington 1970/71

"For me it was learning without being a faceless number in the crowd. [...] Arts One as being the reason I stayed at university as I was ready to drop out in 1st year (and I stayed for seven years in total). My professor, Marcie Powell, was instrumental in my decision to stay."

–Jim D. 1974/75

"Integrated learning – discuss and write about great books."

–Michael Cook 1977/78

"Ideas and taking the time to talk about them with interesting people – and then writing about them! [...] Everything I have done since has been formed by the program and the friends I met in Arts One. Arts One, the books read, the people I met, the ideas discussed has been a major influence. Thank you for an awesome year. My kids are coming next!"

—Erica L. 1979/80

"A truly in-depth analysis of humanities for a 17 yr old. Excellent alternative to first year. Helped us learn to think and write and integrate. [...] Loved the group lectures and small groups. Always fun watching precocious teens making pseudo-intellectual comments without reading the books!"

—Victoria Shroff 1984/85

Yaa Hemaa Obiri-Yeboah"I had some terrific teachers who inspired me and challenged me to set my sights high."

Yaa Hemaa Obiri-Yeboah 1999/2000Rhodes Scholar, 2003




"Arts One was an amazing first-year experience. Even though I have chosen to go in a completely different direction with my degree, I feel my time in Arts One was invaluable.

Writing and discussion are important skills in any field–humanities or science–and Arts One is great program for developing these. Plus, the literature expanded my horizons, and who doesn’t love that?"

—Nicholas F. 2006/07

"Arts One offers a discursive space which motivates critical minds to express different perspectives of the world – be it of the past, the present, or the future. The Program demands reflection, and not just accumulation. It inspires engagement and (re)interpretation, rather than unexamined acceptance of orthodox views."

—Yu-Ting L. 2006/07

"For me Arts One made the transition to University so much easier than if I had taken general first year classes. Coming to a new city not knowing anyone was a daunting idea and UBC’s huge student population was a far cry from the small, personal environment I was used to in High School. The connection to professors and peers made possible by the Arts One arrangement is its greatest strength.

Spending time with the same circle of people in a small group setting allows for friendships to be formed and fosters understanding of others’ viewpoints. The variety of interpretations and insights offered by the professors and other students are so varied you are always guaranteed to have new ideas to think about and deeper appreciation for the texts at the end of the day. Through the programming and people I’ve met, Arts One created a strong base for me to build the rest of my degree."

—Kalenne T. 2006/07

"To me, the essence of Arts One is to understand the world in a critical and reflective way. Arts One is a challenging program that exposed me to the intellectual history of the humanities and the sciences alike. The readings were thought-provoking, and the lecture-and-tutorial format was conducive to developing good reading, writing, and oral communication skills."

—Andy Y. 2006/07  (Featured in Alumni: Where Are They Now)

"Books are only one source of knowledge. In Arts One instead of one source of knowledge there is so much more. Lecture is where context is given to each text. In seminar the perspectives of many students creates diverse illuminations of the text. All this leaves the students with knowledge like they have read ten different stories–or at least like they read the story ten times.

Everyone in Arts One, teachers and students alike, formed a common foundation (the books we read together). This was a resource that allowed us to communicate with a deeper level of imagery, and following that, a deeper respect. I’ve never experienced so much diversity in perspective and not only do I have more panoramic view in literature but more importantly I have a better understanding of others–and a better comprehension of how to understand them."

—Bhaktilata J. 2007/08

"It was rewarding to watch my writing evolve throughout the year. The changes that occurred to my writing allowed me to grow into my own unique style, rather than mould me into a ‘correct’ writing voice identical to all my peers."

—Rebecca L. 2007/08

"Arts One was a fantastic experience for me. Although sometimes it made me cry diamonds and bleed rubies, it also was a very valuable experience. I met a lot of amazing people, read a variety of works and improved my writing skills."

—Kelsea O' 2007/08

"There is reading literature with the spectacles of orthodoxy and then there is reading through the brightly-coloured and multi-faceted lenses of Arts One pilot goggles. These are not safety goggles: you will be exposed to as many noxious and toxic substances as you can find. But through this eyepiece you will experience all the many facets of literature in a fashion completely “alternative” to any other approach to the Arts Faculty.

You may learn that there are many different opinions, or that there is one opinion, or that many opinions are one opinion, one opinion are all opinions. But ultimately, Arts One will grant you the capabilities for a more extensive understanding and appreciation of the social world: your role, your responsibility, your lack thereof. And you will develop solid essay-writing techniques to prove it."

—Gabriel Q. 2007/08, Winner of Annual Arts One Essay Contest

"Coming from a tiny high school, the Arts One program was ideal for me as I entered such a large post-secondary institution. The small class sizes allowed me to feel much more comfortable in such different settings while still providing me with a challenging experience. Coming away from the program I still maintain my love of English literature but I also gained a much greater interest in both history and philosophy. The reading and writing skills I was able to acquire during my year in Arts One will surely be of great benefit as I continue on in my education, no matter which direction of education I wish to pursue."

—Samantha R. 2007/08

"Arts One is Canada’s premier introduction to humanities studies at the university level. You will have a rare opportunity early in your undergraduate career to participate in small, focused seminar discussions, peer review colleagues’ papers, and fortify your reading skills as you discover and develop your own academic approach.

The rich breadth of texts you survey will provide a critical foundation for further studies, whether you proceed on to philosophy, the visual arts, sociology, or something else entirely. Engaging with authors from different cultures and areas of inquiry–within the specific context of your group’s theme–will nurture much-needed analytic skills.

Critical thinking is essential to academia but also indispensable for comprehending current events, global and local issues, and finding your place in the world.

The intensive writing component of the program will allow you to discipline your composing process, which is different for every individual… and something a few of your future colleagues will be struggling with even in their fourth year. You will be expected to improve, challenged to do so, and supported by your seminar leader every step of the way.

The “alternative” Arts One course is exactly what it claims itself to be: a look in the opposite direction in order to illuminate the darker, unbleached face of the social sciences. Arts One will teach you to appreciate reading upside-down and underwater."

—Kyle R. 2008/09, Winner of Annual Arts One Essay Contest

"An intellectual environment that challenges students to become better thinkers and stimulates insightful debate! [...] Engaging in long discussions with our instructor outside of class, and meeting some very bright individuals!"

—Rhys E. 2009/10

"For those who thoroughly enjoyed the friendly atmosphere of IB, I think Arts One would be an excellent choice.

My IB experiences consisted of my four high school years spent with the same group of people. Almost all of us took the same courses, and by the end of the program we were all close friends with each other. I think the big lecture halls of university can be an alienating experience for some IB students because of their experiences in the program. Arts One was a way of providing me with intimate, friendly classes and professors. Some of my IB friends in other faculties ask me what Arts One is like, and I often reply that it seemed like IB all over again."

—Junmeng (Andrew) H. 2009/10

"Arts One affected my choice to go on this exchange and my academic career as a whole in many different ways. Its approach to learning and the small discussion based classes were an amazing experience to have in my first year of university. Arts One was a great fit for myself in first year as it combined English, History and Philosophy, subjects that I was very interested in. These subjects were taught not as separate entities, but instead students discussed novels and plays in a way that utilized ideas and approaches from all three. With this approach I was able to choose my major from amongst these subjects while seeing how they are all interconnected. The large amount of writing we did in Arts One was a crucial factor in my decision to become an English Major. The chance to be able to write so often and with such close criticism from my peers and professor made me feel confident in my writing skills and to actually come to enjoy writing essays!

Most of all the Arts One helped develop the way I perceive university.

By having lively discussions with other students and being encouraged to engage with many different subjects, I now see university as a place to challenge myself academically and to learn new ways to observe and interpret the world. As such, when leaving for England I felt confident and excited to be embarking on one of the biggest adventures of my life so far! I moved to another country because of my excitement for learning and the wish to broaden my worldview, two things that Arts One helped foster in me."

—Jessica W. 2009/10

"Arts One was amazing; it was everything I was hoping for and more. It is really not comparable to IB A1 or A2 courses just because it brings in so many different elements and truly makes you see the power of literature as a vector of change throughout history, apart from being far more challenging and exciting.

You learn it’s not just words. Arts One is like a course in archaeology; you rush back in time, and grapple with concepts you’d never imagined you could find in a book; you excavate, past the surface, past the obvious, to discover shards of meaning that you later piece together; you end up with a whole new message, the actual core of the text.

The lectures are interesting. The seminars are relaxed, difficult, different, backed up by anything and everything that the professor finds to support his/her point. The tutorials are very helpful and terrifying (!), but they really develop your writing skills."

—Paula Z. 2009/10, Winner of Annual Arts One Essay Contest

"Not only did Arts One prepare me for my classes, but for the social university experience. Because I was a commuter student, I was prepared to go through my first year alone. Thankfully, my first year was much more eventful. I was a part of the Arts One council and thereby helped plan events for the lecture groups to get to know each other. The size of the seminars also helps with fostering new friendships. With only 20 people in the seminars, you begin to know each person by name in the first two weeks. Then you begin to understand why some of your classmates see things in a different way than you, and how amazing that is.

You must have an open mind to people and their ideas. I grew so much by realizing that not everyone will see things the way that I do. There was several times when I would mention something that I saw as so apparent, yet not many others saw it. Every class, I learnt something new from my peers. The tutorials were extremely helpful, as well. It was extremely beneficial, especially as a future teacher, to understand my mistakes and better my editing skills.

Arts One made me a better student, a better friend, and a better person."

—Caitlin F. 2010/11

"As a student, I would say that being a part of UBC Arts One is one of the best decision I’ve made at UBC! It was such an enriching and awarding experience that prepared me for second year and beyond!"

— Bianca C. 2017/18