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Arts First

Arts First is a course-based program that helps you build foundational competencies in communication and analysis during your first year at university, with a focus on practice-based learning.

Starting in Fall 2018, each incoming Arts student will take ARTS 130 (Inquiry and Communication) and ARTS 140 (Information and Analysis) in small-group classroom settings to fulfil the Communication Skills Requirement. These classes will be capped at 25 and replace the English Language Proficiency Exam (ELPE) and the ENGL 109 Intro to Academic Writing course.

How you'll learn

Classes focus on practice-based learning. Instead of listening to a lecture and trying to capture notes, you’ll be immersed in activities and exercises that require communication, problem solving, and the kinds of skills necessary for demonstrating comprehension and effective decision-making. Imagine a classroom where you and your classmates work together to respond to a challenge posed by the instructor. This is how you'll experience ARTS 130 and ARTS 140. 

Themes for 2018-19

Sections of ARTS 130 and ARTS 140 will be grouped into four broad themes that change on a rotating basis. These themes highlight broad areas of research within the faculty and point to areas of critical inquiry that can act as catalysts for developing abilities in communication and analysis. In future years, different themes will be introduced.

  1. Inequality: the haves and have-nots – Approaches to this theme might include: contemporary and historical political inequality; economic inequality; social inequality and just societies; imbalances, inequities, and differences in relationships; gender inequity; systemic racism; and more. 
  2. Borders and belonging – Approaches to this theme might include: the self in society; political borders; boundaries between art forms; migration throughout history; international trade; the role of language in forming culture; cultural archaeology and geographical borderlines; kinship and marriage practices; and more
  3. After the digital – Approaches to this theme might include: explorations of new modes of digital art practice; social media and the self; ethics and biometrics; science fiction and dystopia; algorithms in high frequency trading; collusions of digital and ancient practices; multimodality and political actors; and more.
  4. Truth or lies – Approaches to this theme might include: truth claims in social science research; representations of science in the media; the dynamic between fiction and nonfiction; lying, cheating, and ‘tells’; political language; authenticity; ‘fake news;’ and more.

2018-19 sections

Learning outcomes for ARTS 130

As an ARTS 130 student, you will:

  1. Understand your own diverse experiences, strengths, and goals as a communicator.
  2. Examine your views and perspectives and, through the practice of interpersonal communication, develop a deeper awareness of your role in the communication process.
  3. Look critically at context, audience, and genre and use that information to be more persuasive in your communications.
  4. Collaborate with your classmates and provide, incorporate, and reflect on feedback.
  5. Use communication to consider your own ideas and the ideas of others.
  6. Identify and work with different technologies that will help you communicate effectively.

Learning outcomes for ARTS 140

As an ARTS 140 student, you will:

  1. Access information and practice navigating library resources, including indexes and databases.
  2. Recognize, define, and reflect on the meaning of quantitative and qualitative data.
  3. Practice writing and speaking through communication assignments that will build your skills and confidence.
  4. Collaborate with your classmates and provide, incorporate, and reflect on feedback.
  5. Demonstrate an ability to reflect on how information, analysis, and communication lead to knowledge. 
  6. Assess, examine, and evaluate the uses of information, including distinguishing between facts and values.