So today, I have a guest in a pretty interesting program. You might remember me mentioning Aurora in my post about Lignes & Formes. Aurora is one of my friends in the Individualized Studies program at Glendon that not really many people seem to know about. She’s an artist and linguophile who wanted to have a broader approach to education instead of just focusing on one of her interests. As such, I thought she’d be a great source of info about the program, her experiences with it, how it works.
What made you decide on individualised studies?
Aurora: It allowed me to do what I wanted to do without missing out on other things. I wanted to do the visual arts, but I didn’t want to give up my languages which were French and Japanese, so I had to find a school that would be able to offer me all of that and there’s a lack of those schools, but Glendon had it.
How did you get into the program?
A: I’m an Ontario resident, so I applied through OUAC. I applied through them as an interdisciplinary studies program student and then found out that it is also called individualized and then there was pluridisciplinary and then there was another that came about.
Did you have to take any extra steps to be part of the program? I know it’s a more specific thing so you have to make your own degree from what I understand.
A: Yes, so initially when you’re coming out of high school it doesn’t really make a difference, they just accept you pretty much based on your grades. But it matters once you get into the university because while you’re doing university, you have to plan and create your degree and I am bad at doing that so it’s been an interesting year.
What exactly have you had to do that’s different?
A: You have to create your own degree, which means that what you have to do is submit a proposal and the proposal consists of 40 credits and the 40 credits you get to choose yourself. But then you have to justify them and get your proposal approved as a program that Glendon is willing to sign for and unfortunately I’m at a stage where I’ve pretty much created my proposal, but because it’s hard to justify why the courses I want equal the degree I’m trying to create, nothing’s happened with my proposal so far.
Why have you had trouble justifying your courses? What’s your degree exactly?
A: Ultimately, I tried to simplify it by just calling it a visual arts degree. Unfortunately the large majority of visual arts degrees offered as a part of York university are at the Keele campus and not through Glendon which is where I’m trying to get my degree from which means that the difficulty has sort of arisen in finding 20 credits – so at least half of my degree has to come from Glendon – as they have to pertain to a visual arts degree.
What types of courses have you ended up choosing and why? At least for the Glendon ones since the Keele has all the arts courses.
A: So Glendon has a couple of arts courses, so automatically those became a big factor and I chose those. What also sort of became important was how I could interpret art as a multimedia sort of degree and how I would be able to incorporate additional things that generally aren’t considered the arts in the typical sense of a visual arts degree, but that are still a part of the arts. That meant that I would include film studies courses amongst the courses I chose as well as writing courses. Any of those things could be linked to a visual arts degree, but the farther they get from being a visual arts course, the harder it is to justify them and that’s the only way to get my proposal approved.
What course are you having the hardest time justifying?
A: Anything that has to do with language because in general people don’t view language as a visual art, but arguably you could say the visual art is a language. So making that opposite sort of transition for people doesn’t really happen and I have to convince them that that’s something that happens.
Couldn’t it also be a factor in how you get grants for (Visual Arts) projects?
A: Yep, for sure. Why I wanted to keep the languages was that I give up a lot of my ability to communicate with people because communication for me isn’t just visual, right? It can also be written and I had to be sure that was also part of my education and that’s why it’s also harder to justify these to other people because they don’t look at it as a visual arts thing.
Other than the proposal, what other struggles have you had in making your pluridisciplinary studies degree?
A: In terms of making the degree, not much, but whenever you tell someone you’re a pluridisciplinary studies student, no one knows what that means.That might not bother people once you get into your higher years, but starting out in university, that’s an interesting experience.
What’s been the easiest thing about the degree so far?
A: Taking whatever the heck I want to. In other words, I’m able to take Japanese this year and French and the visual arts and gender studies courses and all that stuff and it doesn’t matter because I can make it all important to me.
Do you have any tips for anyone going into the pluridisciplinary studies?
A: Make sure that what you want to study can be turned into a degree because otherwise it’s going to be hard to explain to the people around you why you’re in the program. Originally, I came in without much of an idea and actually got laughed at for simply wanting to study things that were interesting to me. It’s something to consider when you’re thinking of the program – why do I want to take this? How’s it going to benefit my education? What do I want to see from it at the end?
Then you can also consider the fact that if you’re coming into this program, a lot of people are not going to know what it is and you’re the only one who can tell them, so be ready to explain lots and lots.