By Tina Shaygan, November 10 2017 —
The University of Calgary Arts and Sciences Honours Academy (ASHA) program began in September 2007 with a mission to combine arts, sciences and a sense of global awareness. Originally under the Faculty of Humanities with partnerships between the Faculties of Science and Social Sciences, ASHA became part of the Faculty of Arts when the Faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences were amalgamated in 2010.
Among courses that ASHA students are required to take is ASHA 501: The Nature of Research. According to instructor Paul Stortz, the course looks to bring an interdisciplinary approach to academic research.
“What I hope the students get is the view that research could be multifaceted and really open to individual interpretation,” he said.
Fourth-year English student Sonia Jarmula is enrolled in ASHA 501. She said the course allows her to view work done in other classes with a new lens.
“I often find that some of the discussions we have are so multidisciplinary in nature and I’m able to talk about literature in ways I haven’t before,” she said. “It really encourages a love of learning.”
Stortz also emphasized the importance of bringing forward different ways of engaging with research for undergraduate students.
“[Undergraduate students] are perfectly capable of doing original and publishable research,” he said. “Research isn’t confined to university or formal practices and institutions. We do research every morning when we get up until we go to bed at night.”
Fourth-year biochemistry student Sarah McColman echoed Stortz’s point.
“This particular class is interesting because although I do a lot of research in my other classes, it is very different research than what I have done for this class,” she said. “The sources I’ve had to look through has been very diverse. Not just scientific journals. I’ve been looking at artistic journals and images.”
McColman added that the course has helped her define the idea of knowledge creation and discovery.
“I’ve always considered research to be just finding out what other people already knew or finding things that are already there that nobody has looked at yet,” she said. “The idea of actually creating new knowledge and letting that shape your future endeavours has expanded my perspective on the whole concept of what it means to be a researcher and a scientist.”
ASHA 501 is followed by ASHA 503: Capstone Seminar in the winter semester.