Building a New Curriculum for Course-based Internships in the School for the Contemporary Arts

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Claudette Lauzon, School for the Contemporary Arts

Project team: Barbara Adler, lead researcher, School for the Contemporary Arts, and research assistant(s), tbd

Timeframe: September 2019 to May 2020

Funding: $6000

Courses addressed:

  • CA 306 – Internship in Contemporary Arts I
  • CA 406 – Internship in Contemporary Arts II

Description: The goal of this project is to conduct initial research toward re-developing curriculum for the SCA’s two internship courses. Presently, all students enrolled in the School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA) Internships are required to complete a Canvas (SFU’s learning management system) course, with a focus on general career skills and work-place professionalism, mostly related to formal office environments. Our long-term intention is to adapt what is useful in the Canvas course and to expand on it with resources that are relevant to students within our studio-based BFA programs (in Dance, Film, Music, Theatre Performance and Production/Design, and Visual Art), as well as those enrolled in our BA in Art, Performance and Cinema Studies. Additionally, we want to create cross-disciplinary resources to help students understand the broader skills, knowledge and approaches they can apply to navigating careers in the arts.

Questions addressed:

  • What resources that relate to professional development in the arts exist?
  • Are students enrolled in internships engaging deeply in the current curriculum, both online and in their placements? Do students feel the current curriculum fulfills the School’s education goals and SFU’s Work Integrated Learning’s overall learning objectives?
  • Do the findings identify gaps in the curriculum’s capacity to meet the SCA’s standards for academic rigor? Do the learning opportunities provided through the internship placements consistently meet the SCA’s standards for rigor?
  • What do the findings reveal about how the present internship curriculum serves contemporary arts students in terms of a) their internship placements and b) their confidence in pursuing sustainable and fulfilling careers post-graduation?
  • What do the research findings reveal about the skills/experiences/attitudes/values employers in the arts and culture community look for? What are the gaps in the current curriculum, and how might they be filled?

Knowledge sharing: Our project findings will be shared through the advisory committee, the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, with the School through a general meeting, and with Career Services. We anticipate that the conversations initiated through this process will continue and expand, as the work of the Professional Development office becomes better integrated within the educational goals of the School.