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Exciting curricular additions will expand learning opportunities for Arts students

Faculty of Arts introduces new curricular opportunities beginning in Fall 2024
By: Elani Phillips
March 15, 2024

New innovations are set to transform Arts education, aiming to enhance student engagement, foster creativity, and expand learning opportunities. With the introduction of an Indigenous Thought minor, a concentration in Creative Writing and a co-op stream in Geographic Analysis, TMU is committed to empowering students with diverse perspectives and practical skills essential for success in today's dynamic professional landscape. These curricular additions underscore Toronto Metropolitan University's (TMU) dedication to academic excellence and inclusive educational environments, ensuring students are well-prepared for multifaceted roles in an interconnected world.

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Remotely piloted aircraft systems and aerial image collection used in the Geographic Analysis program.

Indigenous Thought minor 

Housed in the Department of Philosophy, this interdisciplinary minor is the first cohesive Indigenous Studies programming offered at TMU. Indigenous Thought is crucial to understanding the impact that Indigenous cultures have on cultural practices, political systems and language. It also encourages students to critically examine settler colonialism from the vantage point of Indigenous perspectives.

Establishing a minor in Indigenous Thought is an important addition to TMU’s commitment to reconciliation through the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force report and recommendations since December 2020, and the university’s name change in 2022.

“This minor will be unique in its execution due to its focus on Indigenous thought and philosophies, rather than following the design of more general programs in Indigenous Studies or Indigenous governance at other schools.”

Dr. Jennifer Komorowski

Dr. Jennifer Komorowski, assistant professor of Philosophy and lead on the proposal highlighted the significance of this minor program as a foundational step toward establishing a unit dedicated to Indigenous knowledge.

“For the Indigenous faculty members at TMU, the minor in Indigenous Thought is a baby step towards an academic unit specializing in Indigenous knowledge (Recommendation 11), and allows us to combine our individual expertise to create a minor which will give students a unique learning experience in the area of Indigenous philosophy while exploring how this kind of knowledge is enacted through decolonial movements, cultural practices, political systems, and Indigenous languages,” said Dr. Komorowski. “Since TMU is one of the only universities of its size without an Indigenous Studies department, this will allow students from across the university to be exposed to new learning opportunities.”

TMU is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive academic environment, and the Indigenous Thought minor represents a significant step toward recognizing and celebrating Indigenous perspectives within the university's curriculum.

Creative Writing concentration

The Creative Writing concentration, available to students in the English and English co-op programs, will immerse them in the foundations of writing, editing, and publishing. TMU’s location in the heart of downtown, uniquely leverages Canada's publishing industry, enhancing the understanding of creative writing genres and forms. The concentration will give students crucial skills to prepare them for related industries upon graduation. Students will encounter practical examples of literary production and skills related to writing, editing, revision, marketing, and publication in cultural and commercial contexts. These creative offerings provide both traditional strategies for creative invention while enhancing student awareness of the cultural marketplace where their ideas and creations can potentially circulate.

English Professor, Dr. Dale Smith, played a key role in creating the proposal for the Creative Writing concentration and shedding light on its importance and demand. “Students want more opportunities to express and articulate what they learn in more traditional literary settings,” said Dr. Smith. “English students understand the value of creativity in today's cultural and commercial settings, and they want formal guidance to get them there. This concentration was devised to give students space to explore their creativity while also showing them how that creative interest is shaped by larger areas of concern in terms of a potential readership.”

The Creative Writing concentration will highlight both the creative and critical features of the program while giving students opportunities to explore the craft skills required to make diverse forms of writing in today's literary contexts. The concentration will help students enact critical insights they receive in the program through creative processes that are valued in several cultural and commercial settings.

The development of the concentration was driven by the students’ enthusiasm for creative writing. Claire Hrabovsky, a third-year English major, expressed her excitement about what experiential learning means for her future. 

“Once I graduate, I'm planning on working in the book publishing industry,” said Hrabovsky. “These learning experiences can teach me more about the book publishing process itself. Overall, becoming more knowledgeable about this industry can help me feel more confident that I will achieve my future career goals.” 

Geographic Analysis co-op

The Geographic Analysis (GA) program stands out for its specialized concentration on cutting-edge geographic information systems, utilizing remote sensing technology and mapping to address significant real-world issues, including but not limited to public health and climate change. With a rich history of internship partnerships, the program facilitates students in securing placements in various fields such as data, geospatial analysis, planning, mapping, real estate, marketing, research and environmental analysis.

Dr. David Atkinson, associate professor in Geography and Department Chair, emphasizes the importance that co-op will introduce to the GA program.

“Unlike other Geography programs, the BA in Geographic Analysis includes computer labs using geographic information systems and remote sensing tools as a core program component,” said Dr. Atkinson. “Additionally, a first year trip in GEO 131, explores ecosystems and physical geography of the Humber River headwaters. This trip engages students in connecting their classroom learning with real-world problems and the actors working towards their solution.”

The range of placements available to students reflects the diverse and deep connections the program has with industry, Dr. Atkinson explains, “The Department has an extensive network of business partners, government collaborators, and alumni, who regularly return to the Department as external clients for capstone courses. Geography faculty members are extremely well connected.”

Experiential learning is essential for GA students in that it engages students in connecting their classroom learning with real-world problems and the actors working towards their solutions. Students participate in work-integrated learning and gain practical experience with data collection, processing, management, analysis, visualization, and reporting. Meanwhile, the government, business, and non-profit community benefit from interacting with potential future employees and collaborators who have made the academic commitment to pursuing a career in Geographic Analysis.

Through an expanded Arts education, these innovations provide students with essential creative, critical thinking, and communication skills crucial for success in various industries. By broadening the scope of Arts education, these additions equip students with indispensable abilities for creative thinking, critical analysis and effective communication, all essential for success in diverse industries.

More information on the Indigenous Thought minor, Creative Writing concentration, and Geographic Analysis co-op are available in the 2024/2025 undergraduate calendar