Mission Statement

The Faculty of Arts aims to create and disseminate knowledge through the teaching, learning, research, professional practice, artistic production and performances of its faculty and of its students. We aim to educate within a context of freedom of inquiry and intellectual curiosity.

To be human is to wonder, to seek meaning, to discover. Our mission is to nurture this humanness–to educate our students in this humanness. We study nature so that we can understand, use, and preserve the physical world in responsible ways. We reflect on societies, past and present, so that we can create free-thinking and responsible citizens for tomorrow. We seek knowledge that solves practical problems, but also knowledge for its own sake. We teach our students how to identify problems and their interdependencies and how to solve problems, how to think analytically and critically and how to reason convincingly, how to write and how to speak coherently and logically. We educate dreamers and thinkers, politicians and political activists, scientists and artists, entrepreneurs and workers – the leaders and the doers who will shape the markets and societies of tomorrow.

We undertake our work in a world in which societies are engaged in an active dialogue between their needs to understand and appreciate one another and their needs to maintain distinctive social and cultural identities. At the centre of one of Canada’s best research universities, the UBC Faculty of Arts is well-placed to observe, study, and participate in the formation of a multicultural Canada and a culturally diverse internationalism. Part of an ethnically diverse campus in an ethnically diverse city, Arts seeks particularly to create comparative cultural perspectives in its teaching and scholarship. The flow of migrants from Pacific Rim countries, and especially from Asia, following on the First Nations inhabitants of the area and its later European settlers, has created in Vancouver a mix of cultures and languages that has offered unique opportunities for cross-cultural scholarship and teaching in the Faculty of Arts. In the emerging international context, the cultures of the Americas are becoming an increasingly important part of our scholarship and teaching. The Faculty of Arts takes as one of its priorities teaching and scholarship in the languages and cultural studies, the visual and performing arts, the business practices, religions, economics, history, geography, social policy, literature and politics of Asia and Canada, the Americas and Europe.

We educate citizens for an international world at a time when technological change and global economic integration have generated great uncertainty. We do not know which specialized skills will be demanded in the future. But we do know that in a time of rapid technological change, general intellectual and analytic skills are at a premium. We take it as our duty to educate students to be lifelong learners, to question conventional wisdom, to seek out facts, to analyze, to synthesize, to communicate, to be open to criticism, and to have an understanding of social and cultural diversity.

Technological change also gives rise to special problems: the widening gulf between the rich and the poor, environmental damage, stresses in the family structure, the tensions caused by increased interaction among different cultures. These are problems which benefit from interdisciplinary approaches. Arts brings to them scholars from the social sciences, the humanities, the creative and performing arts, the professional schools and its interdisciplinary programmes.

The challenges posed by internationalism, by technological change, by environmental damage, by cultural diversity: these are largely challenges posed by the interaction of people with the world and the circumstances in which they live. Because they are about people, these challenges cannot be addressed without education and research about people and their societies. It is that education and research that Arts provides. An Arts education provides tangible social benefits including a higher standard of living and a well-run polity. It confers its greatest benefits on students and society by developing students’ potential to live full, interesting, constructive lives. An educated person is more curious about the world, is better able to work with social and technological change, and has a greater respect for and appreciation of the arts and different cultural practices.

The Faculty of Arts is a community of scholars – faculty and students – engaged passionately in learning and passing on the passion to learn. Arts educates.

Educational commitments of the arts faculty vision

In keeping with this vision, graduates of the Faculty of Arts should:
  • Understand the past which informs the present of the societies in which they live
  • Understand and have an informed and reasoned respect for their own society and other societies
  • Understand at least some of the major issues facing Canada and the world and have a sense of what knowledge has been and could be brought to bear on those issues
  • Be generally informed about and have an appreciation for the subject matter, methodologies, practices and achievements of the creative and performing arts, social sciences, and humanities
  • Be well informed about one or more bodies of disciplinary knowledge
  • Be able to work both individually and in interdisciplinary teams
  • Be able to identify problems, to recognize connections and interdependencies among problems, and to solve problems
  • Be able to think analytically, synthetically, critically, logically
  • Be able to write and to speak coherently and effectively and to different audiences
  • Be capable of the rigorous moral and political reasoning
  • Be able and willing to undertake responsible citizenship
  • Have the intellectual and educational capacity to live full, satisfying and constructive lives.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

Faculty of Arts
Buchanan A240
1866 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada

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