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Improving life in the College of Arts #ArtsImproveLife

At the University of Guelph we have a simple way of expressing the core of what we do. It’s “Improve Life.”

Improve Life

That’s true in our commitment to excellence in teaching and student learning and in our passion for research and discoveries that change the world. I’ve heard our president Franco Vaccarino speak passionately about this on any number of occasions.

While it might be food research and the environment that comes to mind first when you think about research and teaching that improves life, we in the College of Arts do research that improves life too. We also approach our teaching with that goal in mind. We’re part of this Guelph story.

Our new strategic plan, for example, (more on that in a later blog post, stay tuned!) says that we have an aspiration to focus on the following in the next five years:

“Teaching people to tell powerful stories that allow us to bring together different perspectives, make sense of ambiguity, and create new ways of knowing and being in the world, and building capacity to engage with the complex issues of our world as change agents with skills and optimism. “

That’s all about improving life.

Here are just a few more specific examples from around the College:

In History, to improve life by increasing food security in what is now known as northern Ontario, Dr. Brittany Luby, College of Arts, has partnered with Dr. Andrea Bradford, School of Engineering, and Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation to better understand the loss of manomin and, if possible, to restore historically prolific fields.

In the School of Languages and Literatures Dr. Sandra Parmegiani is building ties between her students and the local Italian-Canadian community through the Italian Heritage Project. Students who are learning Italian interview community members to gather their stories and record them in a digital archive that recounts their immigration experience: https://italianheritage.lib.uoguelph.ca/

In the School of Fine Art and Music Professor Christina Smylitopoulos is researching the development of visual competencies: She received the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation Early Researcher Award for “Building a Library of Visual Competencies: Interdisciplinary Critical Appraisal and Observational Practice” a five-year project utilizing the Bachinski/Chu Print Study Collection. This is an international study to evaluate the impact of a visual competency workshop in participants’ skills in critical appraisal and observational practice.

As the introduction to the conference Christina organized earlier this year states:

…the extended uses of art collections… are already proving productive in activities including, among others, training physicians, solving pedagogical challenges in math and statistics, research in programming for children with autism, tracking and finding coping mechanisms for the traumatic effects of colonialism…

In the coming year we’ll be focusing on arts teaching and research that aims to improve life. Keep your eye out for the hashtag, #ArtsImproveLife.