Arts EXP+ Experiential Learning Beyond the Classroom

Arts experiential learning programs unite to offer transformative experiences for students

Donna McKinnon - 05 October 2020

On July 1, 2020, Faculty of Arts initiatives that support experiential learning opportunities for students were brought under one administrative structure, reporting to Allen Ball, Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning. More recently, after consultation with students, the new unit was given a name, Arts EXP+, Experiential Learning Beyond the Classroom.

Same amazing experiences – new, expanded collaborations.

Arts EXP+, which includes Community Service-Learning, Arts Work Experience, Study Abroad, and eHUB Creative, will continue to provide support in their areas of expertise.

“We know just how incredible these experiences are, and the ability they have to change students’ lives for the better,” says Ball. “That’s the beauty of bringing all of the experiential learning opportunities together.”

Faculty of Arts undergraduate degree programs ensure students are exposed to a broad range of educational experiences. Experiential learning – which takes students out of the classroom and into workplaces and communities near and far – is a key strategic priority for the Faculty of Arts and the University of Alberta. The Arts EXP+ initiative strengthens the support systems for global interaction, community service-learning and work-integrated learning, with focused emphasis on further growth.

  • 200+ Undergraduate students enrol in Arts Work Experience annually
  • 51,000+ Hours worked by Arts Work Experience students
  • 1,550+ Students complete Community Service-Learning projects through UAlberta courses annually
  • 31,500+ Service hours worked through Community Service-Learning
  • 360+ Students Study Abroad annually

“We’re excited to work more closely with other experiential learning areas in the Faculty,” says Amber Nicholson, Career Development Officer. “Not only will this collaboration allow us to maximize and coordinate our resources but, we believe, this will allow students to more easily scaffold from one EXP activity to the next, in support of their career development."

Nicholson and her team in Arts Work Experience (AWE) collaborate with over 200 employer partners from the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, offering undergraduate students the opportunity to integrate career related, paid work experience into their degree programs.

The skills that Arts students typically bring to the workplace, such as the ability to communicate clearly, to think creatively and critically, are transferable, career-ready competencies. Hands-on work pays dividends across the board, supporting employers in shaping their incoming workforce, and allowing students to articulate the essential skills they are building, put their knowledge to work, and explore career possibilities within and beyond their respective disciplines.

  • Learn more: For Niabi Kapoor, earning a degree is more than just academics; it's about trying new things.

Since its inception as a daring and creative initiative in the Faculty of Arts more than a decade ago, Community Service-Learning (CSL) has proven to be an incredibly successful partnership between the University of Alberta and Edmonton's not-for-profit sector.

Through courses, certificate programs and internships, CSL students are given opportunities to contribute to the social and political life of their city, and at the same time, community organizations benefit from the students' energy and creativity. This reciprocity of benefit, as David Peacock, CSL Director describes it – where students, instructors, and community partners (and their clients) experience reciprocal learning and benefit, is at the heart of community service-learning.

  • Learn more: The Faces of CSL is a photoblog project that traces the history of CSL through the lived experiences of students, community partners, instructors, and program founders.

The Faculty of Arts has multiple Study Abroad programs and courses designed for students interested in seizing the rich, educational experiences that lie beyond the classroom. Whether that’s along the ancient streets of Tuscany or a village in Africa, global citizenship is an achievable reality for adventurous students in every discipline. When education takes wing, the experience can be transformative.

  • Learn more: Art & Design student, Ziwei Huang, shares what it's like to finally experience Italian art, culture and history without a textbook.

(Note: While COVID-19 has paused international travel, the opportunity to engage in global learning is still available to students through several opportunities curated by UAlberta International.)

Launched in 2017, eHUB Creative is a unique partnership between the Faculty of Arts and eHUB, the University of Alberta's entrepreneurship centre, to support Arts entrepreneurs, connect creative communities, and to provide the Faculty further visibility in entrepreneurial activities. Like eHUB, eHUB Creative offers resources, networking opportunities and mentorship for prospective entrepreneurs who are seeking guidance in realizing their vision.

  • Learn more: Read the stories of eHUB/eHUB Creative here.

If you are interested in participating in any of these Arts EXP+ Experiential Learning programs, please visit the website for more information.