The University of Waterloo’s ethos of experiential learning, entrepreneurship, and problem-based scholarship translates into an uncommonly high degree of institutional connectivity with society at large.
Waterloo’s distinctiveness as an institution that is focused on having an impact on the challenges facing humanity and our world is well-deserved; the University’s planning prioritizes the role it can play in bringing about effective change. The institutional strategic plan (Connecting Imagination with Impact, 2020-2025) emphasizes the institution’s goal of leading nationally and globally at the interface of health, society, and technology. Moreover, current discussion around the vision for the University when it reaches its hundredth anniversary (Waterloo @ 100) features a “Five Global Futures” framework: societal, sustainable, health, technological, and economic. Arts will be a key player in bringing about the goals to which the institution is committed.
The Faculty of Arts has a keen awareness of the impact of our work on individual and community wellness, both locally and globally. Research in Arts addresses problems of global importance in the areas of equity, mental health, climate change, governance, conflict, refugees, racism, poverty, finance, cybersecurity, and reconciliation, to name but a few. Beyond the direct impact of scholarship and learning in such fields, the foundational education provided by the study of the humanities, the social sciences, and the creative arts inspires critical thinking and prepares our students for active civic engagement in a civil society. Our programs emphasize the critical and reflective skills necessary to confront a fast-changing environment, while the dissemination of our scholarship and our creative work educates and challenges our citizens, shapes ethical debate, builds cultural awareness, contributes to the development of public policy, and informs the economic and financial framework that guides our society, while addressing a host of other issues integral to the health and well-being of humanity.
In concert with the rest of the University of Waterloo, the Faculty of Arts will set a world-class standard for social impact in scholarship and teaching. Science and engineering expertise will play a significant role in the technology and health futures to which Waterloo has committed itself, but the profound knowledge and understanding of humanity – its successes and its failures – brought to the table by arts disciplines is equally crucial. The Faculty’s Lupina Foundation Postdoctoral program, targeting researchers in the area of social determinants of health, and the new diploma in Health Humanities initiated by St. Jerome’s University are recent examples of the blending of disciplines that holds the most promise for profound and lasting real-world impact. Furthermore, the “Tech for Good” focus of the Arts-founded Critical Media Lab is one among several Arts initiatives that emphasize the importance of ethical leadership in technological innovation. Increasingly, interdisciplinary teams feature a breadth of proficiencies, from physics to philosophy, computers to communication, engineering to English.
In curricular settings such as the Global Engagement Seminar, Peace and Conflict Studies, Global Business and Digital Arts, and Sustainability and Financial Management, our students have shown themselves to be deeply committed to tackling the global challenges that face us today. We will continue to expand student opportunities to effect change, and will assist them in readying themselves to face the challenges of tomorrow.
We will continue to engage in scholarship and learning that emphasizes social impact.
- Supporting a wide range of research and programming that has direct applicability to local and global problems and problem-solving
- Recognizing and articulating the immediate social impact of creative cultural production (theatre, art, digital design, music, literature, etc.)
- Recognizing and articulating the significant contributions of fundamental research in Arts disciplines to the well-being of the individual and society
We will enhance opportunities for international learning experiences that focus on bettering globalized society.
- Increasing international work-integrated learning options for domestic students, undergraduate and graduate, including research and/or work with IGOs and NGOs
- Creating on-campus/online programming attractive to international students interested in bettering conditions in their home country
- Creating more on-campus/online opportunities (e.g., through the Scholars at Risk program) for individual students in dangerous circumstances to come to Waterloo
We will explicitly develop and enhance the concept of social entrepreneurship in our scholarly activities.
- Embedding concepts of various types of social entrepreneurship (community, not-for-profit, transformational, global) into our business-related programming
- Providing incentives and supports to assist our students in engaging with extracurricular opportunities such as Greenhouse, Grebel Peace Incubator, and Velocity
We commit to programming, scholarship, and community-building founded on principles of social justice.
- Making necessary change within the Faculty to achieve our short- and long-term goals of equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism
- Participating in educating the University community about Indigenous cultures and knowledges through (e.g.) The Indigenous Speakers Series
- Providing general leadership within and beyond the University in issues related to equity (anti-racism, gender identity, sexuality, disability)
- Building programming for our students and for the public (through lifelong learning) that emphasizes actions necessary to build social justice
We will continue to contribute humanizing perspectives to health and technology research and programming.
- Emphasizing the social justice dimensions of health and technology advances, such as differential access, poverty, educational inequity, etc.
- Continuing Arts-based scholarship, programming, and clinical practice in the areas of health, technology, and society, such as mental health research, design and user experience, social and political policy, etc.
- Continuing to participate and provide leadership in University-wide teamwork by bringing an Arts expertise (e.g., ethics, public policy, human-computer interaction) to current trends in technological health delivery, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, etc.
We will continue to contribute to the University’s sustainability goals.
- Employing the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a guide to critical areas for curricular and scholarly innovation
- Facilitating the greening of the Faculty in general through education and support to individual units and initiatives
- Exploring further options for incorporating issues around sustainability goals into our programming
- Supporting Arts research focused on sustainability issues, including interdisciplinary and collaborative research across campus
We will employ lifelong learning opportunities to expand and diversify our contributions to social and economic well-being.
- Promoting lifelong learning opportunities specifically for diverse audiences at different life stages and with limited access to continuing education
- Providing opportunities to our own graduates and to our employees for continuous upgrade of their education and skills
- Contributing to both the public and private sector through professional education in financial and economic development, data management and analysis, human resources management, user design, etc.
- Providing short-course credentials to public and private sector organizations and businesses in such areas as “cultural awareness”, “diversity in the workplace”, “anti-racism”, etc.
We will enable our students to have direct social impact through their research, curriculum, and work-and volunteer-integrated learning.
- Creating a greater breadth and variety of work- and volunteer-integrated learning opportunities through connecting with outside partners, including community organizations and the not-for-profit sector, as well as alumni
- Embedding problem-based and applied learning into more areas of the Arts curriculum at both the undergraduate and graduate levels
- Expanding Co-op for Social Good into international venues
- Supporting research assistantships in areas of social impact
- Exploring the possibility of creating a co-curricular credential in volunteerism