New program to bring together humanities, sciences at Brock

NOTE: This is one in a series of stories highlighting projects supported by Brock’s Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF), which was established by the University in spring 2021. AIF projects will address key priorities outlined in Brock’s Institutional Strategic Plan and position the University to face the challenges of recovery from the pandemic. To read other stories in the AIF series, click here.

Brock University is working to create a new undergraduate program in Arts and Science.

A collaboration between the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Mathematics and Science, the program will provide students with the flexibility to pursue individual interests across the two Faculties.

Its creation comes in response to increasing widespread calls for integrating the arts into traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs. STEAM programs, with the addition of the arts, equip students with technical and scientific knowledge as well as intangible skills like communications, critical thought and collaboration.

The Arts and Science program’s development is being funded through Brock’s Academic Initiatives Fund (AIF), which was introduced this past spring. The AIF has provided one-year seed funding to 18 projects that aim to address key priorities outlined in the University’s Institutional Strategic Plan and aid with Brock’s pandemic recovery.

The committee overseeing the program’s creation, which includes nine members from each Faculty, hopes to launch the new offering in September 2024 with an intake of 40 students per year.

While the Arts and Science program will prepare students for a wide variety of careers, including government, policy and law, its value is far more than that, says Carol Merriam, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities.

“No matter what career or path someone follows, they will do better at it, and at the rest of life, if they can comprehend where scientific facts come from and how they are derived and examined, and can approach the human side — stories, emotions and art — with similar confidence,” she says.

“An ability to think and communicate clearly, to appreciate both historical and scientific fact, will serve anyone well in their future endeavours.”

The current plan would have students complete a minor in each of the Faculty of Humanities and Faculty of Mathematics and Science, including courses in biology, language, literature or art, and math, statistics, computer science or applied computing.

A required first-year cohort course and fourth-year capstone course will bring Arts and Science students together for collaborative learning.

Unlike other Arts and Science programs currently offered in Ontario, students will have the flexibility to follow their own interests within the program framework. Students can take advantage of Brock’s strengths in both the arts and sciences in a truly transdisciplinary program.

Faculty of Mathematics and Science Dean Ejaz Ahmed believes students in the program will hold special talent.

“The challenging combination of science intertwined with art will be showcased in our students’ work,” he said. “We will be proud of their creative works backed by scientific discipline.”

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