Julio Diaz / Multimedia Assistant

McMaster introduces new iArts program reflecting diversity among artists and the arts with the first cohort of students having started classes this fall

This fall, McMaster University launched their new Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Integrated Arts (iArts), a level I direct-entry program for students wishing to pursue the arts from an interdisciplinary perspective. The new program allows students to explore the history and theory underlying the arts, from visual arts to performance, media and design and it aims to bridge skills across the arts to provide students with a truly integrated and comprehensive fine arts education.  

The program is designed intentionally to explore diversity among people and how this is reflected in the arts by combining techniques, approaches, theories and practices from all domains of the arts. Upper-years in this program will be able to take courses in a variety of artistic disciplines to hone their craft, including classes in acting, devising, drawing, film studies, video production, contemporary art histories, curatorial studies, sculpture, ceramics, painting, mixed-media and printmaking. 

The new iArts program also emphasizes a collaborative approach on creating space for both individual artistic expression and exploration of issues in social justice as well as a layered approach to the meanings and histories of the arts on a local, national and international level. It hopes to prepare students for professional careers in the arts by also equipping them with the necessary entrepreneurial skills to enter this broad and competitive field.  

This program will allow aspiring artists to build a portfolio reflecting the diversity of their experiences and expertise in a structured yet flexible way, to grow and evolve with the artist. 

Students applying to iArts must meet the academic requirements for admission to the faculty of humanities in addition to completing a creative submission selection process. Creative submissions is an electronic submission of the student’s creative work compilation, featuring art they created or developed through their education, at home or in the community.  

The art submission may be likened to a portfolio for visual artists or an audition reel for performance artists, but it can also contain works from a multitude of disciplines, as it is not bound to one singular representation of the student’s capabilities. 

The iArts has been intentionally designed around the needs of its prospective students. The program’s first cohort of 40 students began classes this past September.

iArts hopes to further develop and expand arts education at McMaster, providing students with a well-rounded and comprehensive experience in a range of disciplines tailored to the student as an individual and as a collaborator. While McMaster is known for excellence in science and medicine, this new program is one that demonstrates the diversity and multi-faceted nature of the school and its students, both current and prospective, and may create more space and funding for the arts at McMaster. 

Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator

It’s time to kick the arbitrary four-year timeline to the curb

By: Ardena Bašić, Contributor

Post-secondary educational programs are often presented as allotted timelines that correspond to annual requirements. For example, a four-year bachelor's degree assumes five courses a semester, or 10 a year in Ontario. Yet, these are only guidelines and are not set in stone. 

There are benefits to both shortening and prolonging a degree, along with costs. Unfortunately, the latter is often met with criticism in our increasingly workaholic society. This stigma needs to be reevaluated so that students can achieve success at their own pace without undue pressure.

Firstly, it is worth noting that there are multiple benefits to extending the time one takes to complete a degree. For one, with fewer courses at one moment in time, there are more opportunities to pursue extracurriculars, work and social activities. The former two are highly valuable in adding to one’s resume and expanding future job prospects, but the latter is also important in encouraging a strong life balance. 

It is worth noting that there are multiple benefits to extending the time one takes to complete a degree.

With the unfortunate increase in mental health disorders today, striving for such a balance is even more crucial. Additionally, focusing on fewer courses means there is a greater chance of savouring course content, as opposed to working only to meet deadlines. Given the exorbitant time, energy and money that education demands, one should take every chance to get the most out of their education. 

One should also consider that there is a positive correlation between time spent completing a degree and the graduation rate. For instance, Harvard’s four-year graduation rate is approximately 85% whereas the five-year graduation rate is almost 95%. To put it into perspective, this 10% increase represents about 700 students at Harvard and 3000 students at McMaster.

If extra time spent on your degree makes such a significant difference, then why haven’t we yet accepted taking your time? Especially in a society where degrees are progressively becoming more valuable. Overall, there are a myriad of benefits to slowing down one’s education instead of trying to relentlessly pursue the socially-accepted completion time. 

These benefits are met with only a few consequences. Firstly, prolonging one’s studies could eventually dispel motivation. One may start eager to learn, but eventually become apathetic and neglect coursework by the end of the study period. Moreover, the jobs one may obtain in their extra time, or even school guidelines, may lower the amount of scholarships available. This is most distressing for those who have high financial need, but not as much for those who already obtained sufficient scholarship funds at the beginning of their education. Individuals considering a longer study time should reflect on the benefits and costs to decide the right course of action for them. 

In our increasingly competitive world, part-time studies — or any form of studying that takes longer than what is outlined — seems to be frowned upon. Individuals might believe that such a person lacks the time management, productivity skills or even basic intellect to finish a degree at the same time as others. 

However, this is far from the truth. It takes a high level of honesty to commit to putting oneself first in a time where there is a binary between an actual person and their work. Taking the time off to focus on self-development and maintaining balance in one’s life will pay off more than attempting to fit in with the status quo. In this way, such individuals should be revered for their courage as opposed to being discriminated against. 

It takes a high level of honesty to commit to putting oneself first in a time where there is a binary between an actual person and their work.

Everyone is incredibly unique and one’s education should follow suit. There is no reward in joining the same race as everyone else if one would be better off running to the beat of their own heart. So, instead of discouraging the truth in our manipulated and photoshopped society, let’s reward those with the courage to defy it. 

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