BA Renewal

What Has Been Done So Far?

September 2012: The  process was envisaged as a grassroots initiative to include as many stakeholders as possible. Five working groups were formed to develop visions for the future of the BA degree in the following areas:  

  • Creative Thinking

  • Experiential Learning

  • Interdisciplinary, Intercultural and International

  • Global Connections in the 21st Century

  • Visual Literacy

Click here for the committee roster.

A series of open meetings and focus group sessions were held with the members of the working groups, as well as with others in the Faculty of Arts. Alumni have been included in the various forums from the very beginning of the process.

These lengthy discussions centered on the question of whether or not to define the BA degree in terms of “attributes.” “Attributes” were defined as the qualities, values and dispositions that students develop during the process of obtaining an Arts degree. Broader than, but including, skills, attributes are not discipline-specific and are developed by all students as they progress through their degrees. The working group discussions were informed by specialists in curriculum development, including Dr. Jennifer Summit from Stanford University and Dr. John Galaty from McGill University, who presented lectures in January 2013.


February 2013: The five working groups were merged into a single Steering Committee. The Steering Committee members investigated the ways in which other universities, primarily in the United States and Australia, had organized their BA core requirements around the concept of attributes. Two undergraduate research assistants performed comprehensive surveys of the various guiding principles used by other institutions across the world. Steering Committee members were:

  • Mickey Adolphson, Associate Dean

  • Robin Cowan, Senior Officer

  • Alison Taylor, Faculty of Education, Director, Community Service-Learning

  • Janice Williamson, English & Film Studies

  • Lianne McTavish, Art & Design

  • Beverly Lemire, History

  • Jennifer Dailey-O’Cain, Modern Languages & Cultural Studies

  • Pete Hurd, Psychology, Undergraduate Associate Chair

  • Heather Eckert, Economics

  • Julian Castro-Rea, Political Science

  • Chris Wudarck, student, Collective Body for Arts Students (CBAS)

  • Ara Ko, student, CBAS

  • Travis Dueck, student, CBAS

  • Jennifer Barranoik, student, CBAS

  • Dylan Williams, student, CBAS

  • Emerson Csorba, student, Research Assistant


February 2013: A set of key attributes was put forward, along with a proposed table of BA requirements, that clearly outlined the number of course credits and expected learning outcomes for each set of attributes. Five core attributes were identified:

  • Analysis and Interpretation

  • Research, Creation and Inquiry

  • Communication and Culture

  • Global Citizenship

  • Lifelong, Adaptive and Engaged Learning

This working proposal was then sent out to all stakeholders in the Faculty of Arts for feedback.


September 2014: The following ad hoc committee was constituted at the request of Dean Lesley Cormack and Associate Dean Mickey Adolphson, then chair of the BA Curriculum Review:

  • Cecily Devereux, Department of English & Film Studies

  • Pete Hurd, Department of Psychology

  • Lianne McTavish, Department of Art & Design

  • Jan Selman, Department of Drama

  • Micah True, Modern Languages & Cultural Studies

  • Helen Vallianatos, Department of Anthropology

This committee was asked to bring the work of earlier iterations of the BA Review Committee to fruition by drafting a proposal based on the attributes for presentation to Arts Faculty Council.


Spring 2015: A proposal for the revised BA was presented to various Arts stakeholder groups, including Undergraduate Student Services, Dean’s Executive Council and Chairs Council. At that time, concerns were expressed that the attribute model was too complex as it appeared to link outcomes directly to individual courses, making advising students very difficult. The draft proposal was brought to Arts Executive Committee, and the committee voted against forwarding the proposal to Arts Faculty Council.

Although the faculty did not move forward with the recommendations as presented, it was agreed, in principle, by the Dean’s Executive Council that the identified attributes were a valuable means of understanding undergraduate programs, shifting attention away from thinking about content and towards the diverse skills and competencies our students gain throughout their degrees. Disciplinary requirements are the primary mechanism that shapes students’ paths through their degrees. These discipline-specific program requirements develop many of the core attributes that become the transferable skills with which students enter the workforce upon graduation. How these attributes are embedded in the trajectories of specific majors and minors is best determined by each individual department/program.


July 2015: Direction was given by Dean Lesley Cormack to draft a new BA Curriculum Renewal proposal, for consideration by all stakeholders in the Faculty of Arts, by the end of the 2015-2016 academic year.


July 2015-February 2016: Allen Ball, Associate Dean (Student Programs: Teaching and Learning) and lead on this project, consulted extensively with:

  • Members of the Dean’s Executive Council, including the dean, vice-dean and all associate deans

  • Dean (on leave) Lesley Cormack

  • Chairs from all 15 Arts departments, as well as executive director of Community Service-Learning and the senior director of the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies

  • Christine Brown, Head Librarian, to identify and address any resource implications that the proposed BA Curriculum Renewal may generate for library services

  • Associate deans from faculties across campus, including visits to the Campus Saint-Jean and to Augustana.

Ongoing updates were provided to key members of central administration during this period.


October 2015: An update on the BA Curriculum Renewal consultation process was presented at the Arts Faculty Council meeting.


Fall 2015: The process was discussed extensively at Arts Teaching and Learning Enhancement Committee meetings and Associate Chairs (Undergraduate) meetings.


Fall 2015: Roundtable sessions took place with the Undergraduate Student Services Advisors and Senior Administrative Officers in the Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Student Services Office. Discussions addressed the possible administrative impacts of different changes to the BA core requirements. We also continue to seek input from students through OASIS (the Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies), our newly formed Faculty of Arts Students’ Association, and seek to develop a space for open dialogue with students about the renewal process.


February 2016: The first town hall meeting was held in FAB 2-20. More than 100 students, staff and faculty attended this open forum. An online form was also circulated prior to the event, inviting feedback from those who would be unable to attend the town hall. We have collated all 34 feedback entries from students, staff, faculty and alumni.


March 2016: OASIS (Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies) hosted a student town hall discussion on March 8. All BA students were invited to attend to ask questions and give feedback. The event was extremely well attended by students, and Associate Dean Allen Ball attended to answer questions. An excellent and rigorous conversation took place. Comments and suggestions were recorded and will be considered as part of the BA Renewal process.

Comments from the OASIS town hall
Gateway article on the OASIS town hall


March 2016: A survey was sent to all arts faculty and BA students. The survey was completed by 163 faculty members and 831 students, and the responses are being taken into consideration for the BA Renewal.

Faculty survey results

Student survey results


April/May 2016: The BA renewal consultation process continues. On April 27, 2016 Allen Ball, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning: Student Programs) met with representatives of the Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies (OASIS) to discuss the results of our surveys about the proposed changes to the BA. In addition, Dr. Ball met with representatives from the Graduate Student Association (GSA) on May 19, 2016 to discuss the direct impacts the proposed changes to the BA would have on graduate student recruitment and retention.

Drawing from multiple sources of feedback, the next steps in the BA Renewal process are to develop a second draft for distribution before the start of the fall term. Please watch future issues of the Arts Anthology newsletter for more information regarding the BA Renewal, and for any upcoming messages from Allen Ball.

As always, Allen invites you to contact him at atball@ualberta.ca with any questions or concerns.


September 2016: Approximately 100 people attended the final town hall of the renewal process.

You are invited to watch the video here.

Comments collected through the most recent online form (for those who weren't able to attend the event) are available here

REVISED Proposal (pdf)

REVISED Appendices (pdf)


November 2016: The revised BA Renewal proposal was passed at Arts Faculty Council on Thursday, November 24, 2016. The changes to the BA common requirements will continue on the governance pathway toward implementation in fall 2018. 

Please watch for notifications of developments in the governance process in future issues of Anthology and on the BA Renewal website


The revised BA Renewal proposal was passed at Arts Faculty Council on Thursday, November 24, 2016. General Faculties Council approved the proposal on January 30, 2017.

The Faculty of Arts thanks everyone who contributed to the BA Renewal consultation process. The new BA curriculum will be effective for the 2018/19 academic year.

If you have any questions about the BA Renewal proposal or process, please contact Associate Dean Allen Ball.