Saint Mary's University Faculty of Arts Vision Statement

The Faculty of Arts at Saint Mary’s University believes that research and education in the Humanities and Social Sciences are essential to society. The questions posed by scholars in the Arts, and the nuanced answers their research provides, hold deep and enduring value. For centuries, across an array of disciplines, research in the Arts has enriched human experience, providing a forum for intellectual inquiry that is not available anywhere else.

As a collegial community of professors, students, administrators, and staff, we are committed the following principles.

The Production of Knowledge

The Faculty of Arts encourages excellence in research as a core part of its academic mission. We believe original scholarship creates new ways of thinking about and understanding the world. We promote academic freedom in scholarship and teaching. We support peer-reviewed publication, research collaboration, applications to major granting agencies, and the dissemination of findings. We encourage a culture of research among our students, and support those efforts through mentorship, funding, and access to facilities.

Students and faculty listening to presentations at the 2015 Student Empowerment Conference, organized by the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Culture (CISC)

High-quality Teaching

We value excellence in both undergraduate and graduate teaching. At the university level, teaching is distinguished by its relationship to research. We encourage pedagogy that highlights this connection. The Faculty of Arts prides itself on the calibre of its many graduate programs, and the development of new graduate opportunities is a priority. We support scholarship of teaching and curriculum development.

Anthropology students at the Grand-Pré Archaeological Field School with Anthropology professor Dr. Jonathan Fowler

The Public Role of the University

The Faculty of Arts sees critical engagement with social issues as a way to highlight the enduring value of an Arts degree. We seek a direct and vital connection to our local, provincial, national, and international communities. We believe the Faculty of Arts can play a key role in debates that formulate public policy. We support faculty and students as they participate in public debates through research, teaching, learning, and community engagement. We encourage students to see themselves as engaged members of our society.

English professor Seán Kennedy at the weekly Poet and a Pint event, hosted at Halifax’s Old Triangle pub by the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Culture (CISC)

The Pursuit of Learning

An Arts degree represents an opportunity to explore the range of human achievement across cultures and time periods. Arts students explore ideas for their own sake, as well as for their social, economic, or cultural value. We foster creative expression and freedom of thought. Our degrees offer breadth and specialization. What we learn may prepare us for the marketplace, but is also valuable in itself. We value life-long learning and the creation of new educational opportunities for mature students, and we encourage students to learn in different ways, through field work and studying abroad. We support experiential and service learning through work and volunteer placement, community engagement, and research opportunities. We foster professionalism, and ask students to demonstrate integrity in research and personal conduct.

Dean of Arts Dr. Margaret MacDonald accepting a Support to Student Reservists award at Nova Scotia’s Province House in March 2015, with reservist and Criminology major Lt. Sarah Gray

The Promotion of Interdisciplinary Perspectives

The Faculty of Arts maintains a commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship through our flagship programs and our research centres. Interdisciplinary programs approach scholarly questions from a wide range of methodological perspectives and offer a classroom experience that crosses traditional boundaries between research fields. The Faculty of Arts also sees engagement with the local, national, and international community as an important part of our interdisciplinary focus.

Author Emma Donoghue and Chair of Irish Studies Pádraig Ó Siadhail at the 2015 Cyril Byrne Lecture

Internationalization

The Faculty of Arts is committed to strengthening its international reputation through excellence in research, education, and the formation of strategic partnerships. We seek to promote a culture of engagement with the Arts among international students. We recognize the complexity of internationalization, both as student experience and global phenomenon, and address it in curriculum and in campus life. We promote intercultural awareness through analysis of the world’s diverse traditions and faiths.

Students from China’s Beijing Normal University – Zhuhai, visiting the Halifax Central Library with Halifax Public Libraries’ Chief Librarian and CEO, Åsa Kachan

Global Citizenry

In a globalized economy, students need languages, cultural awareness, historical perspective, and keen analytical skills to prosper. In the Faculty of Arts, we foster literacy in a range of languages, societies, and cultures. We provide the foundations for intercultural analysis and social critique, as well as personal and professional development at home and abroad. We want our students to be informed and compassionate global citizens, learning from other cultures and historical periods as well as their own localities.

Confronting Challenges of Access and Affordability

The Faculty of Arts recognizes the substantial obstacles to accessible education. We seek support for all economically vulnerable students as part of our role as public educators. We are committed to creating access for Aboriginal students, African Nova Scotians, and newcomers to Canada, as well as students with disabilities. We believe an Arts education should be available to anyone willing to meet its challenges.

Promotion of Equity and Diversity

The Faculty of Arts is a diverse community in which many different methodologies and commitments coexist in productive tension. We encourage our students to explore the different ways knowledge is constituted across and within disciplines. We respect diversity and seek to provide an Arts education that is accessible to students of all races, genders, economic classes, ages, and sexualities. We also see equity as a local issue, and address ourselves in our research, teaching, and student experience to building equity in our community.

Collaboration Across Faculties

The Faculty of Arts seeks to create new learning opportunities in collaboration with the Faculty of Science and the Sobey School of Business. We promote interfaculty collaboration in a world beset by formidable economic and environmental challenges, as well as rapid demographic change. We support initiatives that will bring together the entire Saint Mary’s community in the attempt to address those challenges.

While the fundamentals of our work as educators and researchers are steeped in a long tradition of liberal arts education, the social and academic context within which we work changes constantly. To reflect this reality, this Vision Statement is intended as a living document, to be reviewed and revised.

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