What does it mean to study Arts? It means to study the world – to understand critical issues facing the world yesterday and today: the environment, politics, race, class, poverty, gender and inequality. The world is your classroom, and what you learn matters. To study Arts is to think and feel, to know and change, to understand and take action.
Why Study Arts at OC?
Our university studies programs and courses are as diverse as our students. Whatever kind of student you are, wherever you plan to go, we can help you get there. We offer eight certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs made up from over 200 different courses from 16 subject areas. And every credit you earn at OC is fully transferrable to universities across B.C. and beyond.
Associate of Arts student Brian Walker has always felt drawn to teaching, but recognizes that anything can happen in the future.
For Mary Hanlon, Sociology allows people to understand clothing as a tool of exploitation, expression and social change.
A semester abroad in Japan helped Associate of Arts student Xenon Tyner gain confidence and meet new people — opening a world of possibilities.
Explore our programs
Explore our departments
Anthropology asks the question: what makes us human? Study human culture in all its diversity and similarity, look at the world in new ways and question ethnocentric assumptions that guide thinking and perceptions.
Learn how meaning is made in a range of contexts, including advertising, television, film, music, social media and the internet. Understand how our perception is influenced by these cultural forms.
Do you think about serious issues like child labour, homelessness, free trade, global poverty? These concerns are at the heart of the study of Economics. Learn what it might take to solve these problems.
English and Fine Arts
Immerse yourself in the study of language and literature; from the classics to contemporary work. Understand how words work in our lives and shape our view of the world and our place in it.
Geography and Earth and Environmental Studies
Explore your world and your role in making it a better place, by integrating study in both the natural and social sciences. Develop innovative approaches to the climate crisis and to living sustainably on Earth.
Is it true that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it? History involves studying critical events and issues of the past in an effort to better understand their impact on the present.
Explore significant social issues through research and critical methodologies from several disciplines like Criminology, Indigenous Studies, Social Work, as well as Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies.
Develop linguistic understanding and competence in a range of languages, and explore the literature, history and cultures of countries where the languages are spoken.
Philosophy asks students to engage with challenging questions and develop the critical thinking and reasoning skills to understand the complexities of modern life.
Issues like civil rights, war, peace, poverty, justice, globalization and equality are part of the theory and practice of politics. Understand the world from a variety of political perspectives.
Examining human behaviour and mental processes helps us appreciate why we feel what we feel, think what we think, and even why we dream at night.
Study in Sociology allows us to understand how human behaviour is influenced by the social and cultural groups to which we belong and the society in which we live.
Research, Scholarly and Creative Work
Dr. Mary Hanlon, Sociologist, Department of Sociology
I am interested in the global fashion and apparel industry, and in understanding how and why worker rights may be compromised in the making of clothing, as well as how transnational social movements work to challenge and disrupt conventional practices. Sociology allows us to understand clothing as a tool of both exploitation and expression, and, also, one of social change. My PhD research focused on the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Savar, Bangladesh, a disaster that killed more than 1,000 workers making clothing destined for the closets of western consumers. I looked at the actions of transnational stakeholders aiming to secure compensation for those impacted by the collapse, as well as those working to prevent another such disaster from happening again. I am also interested in how information and knowledge is learned and shared. I worked for a long time on a project called Social Alterations, which aimed to create and support educational resources related to worker rights and the global fashion and apparel industry. Fashion can be a fascinating tool to create social change, and it’s exciting to think about all the creative ways that might happen.
Photo: Old Dhaka, Bangladesh, July 2015, Mary Hanlon
Amy Cohen, Researcher, Department of Anthropology
I am testing a community based model to better support migrant farmworkers in the Okanagan. I am currently working with Dr. Susana Caxaj (University of Western Ontario) and a multi-sectoral team in the Central Okanagan on this three-year project funded by the Vancouver Foundation. The current research is focused on the implementation and evaluation of a system of supports for temporary farmworkers who face discrimination, isolation, and a variety of barriers accessing healthcare and other public services while they are in the Okanagan. My selected recent featured work includes a paper published in ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies (2019), co-authored paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2019), a presentation at the REB West Conference in 2019, and co-presenter role at the Latin American Studies Association Conference in Boston in 2019. This photo (credit: Elise Hjalmarson) is of me speaking to farmworkers about conditions in the South Okanagan.
Frances Greenslade, Novelist, Department of English
In my books, I explore how personal and cultural mythologies direct our lives, especially our relationships to home and land. My first three books are all written for adults. With a writing style that has always been pared down, sometimes spare, I wasn’t surprised that when my novel, Shelter, was published, it was called an adult/young adult crossover. Recently, I wrote Red Fox Road, a novel for younger readers, completely in longhand, slowly, revising minimally as I went. Though the book is fiction, I named my thirteen year-old narrator Francie, after myself. This made me feel as if I was writing to my younger self, with the joy and ease that writing had for me then. Red Fox Road will be published with Penguin Young Readers in the U.S. and Canada in September 2020. I’m currently working on a sequel.
Melissa Munn, Criminologist, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
I am a criminologist with expertise in long-term imprisonment, the release and resettlement of prisoners, the Canadian penal press and penal reform in Canada. I began my work with long-term prisoners over thirty years ago and continue to provide workshops and advocacy for the incarcerated at their request. I am a consultant to the Break Away gang-disaffiliation program and an editorial board member for the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. Inspired to liberate and celebrate the voices of the incarcerated, in 2011, I launched www.penalpress.com, an open-access, digital archive of penal press materials from Canada. I spend much of my spare time trying to acquire, archive, catalogue and preserve these rare publications. I just finished writing a book (Disruptive Prisoners) with History Professor Chris Clarkson, which juxtaposes the story of mid-century prison reform as told by the government with the accounts provided by prisoners in the penal press. I am working on the fourth edition of my booklet "Getting Out. Staying Out: Words of Wisdom from Former Long-term Prisoners," and recently co-authored (with Danny Homer) a chapter (Leaving the Iron House: The Red Road Out of Prison) on Aboriginal parole in Canada.
Todd Redding, Researcher, Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
My background is in forest hydrology and soil science and this is the main area of scholarly work I undertake. I am also interested in vineyard soils and sustainable recreation trail construction, maintenance and restoration. My current research work is focused on long-term research in forest hydrology. I have a long-term collaboration with Dr. Rita Winkler (B.C. Ministry of Forests) at the Upper Penticton Creek Watershed Experiment. This experiment has been examining the effects of forest harvesting in water quantity and quality for 30 years. I am also working with Rita to review the evolution of long-term forest watershed research projects around North America to guide future research in B.C. This photo is of me leading a field trip during the 2019 National Association of Geoscience Teachers Conference I organized in Penticton in June 2019. The photo was taken above Naramata discussing exposures of metamorphic rocks that formed during the active phase of the Okanagan Fault.
Amy Modahl, Visual Artist, Department of Communications
Visual art is part of my research as a faculty member in the Communications Department. Currently I’m focused on painting and drawing, but I have also used printmaking methods and I’ve participated in performance collaborations. Like many artists, I focus on elements that communicate around or without words. Currently, I’ve been focusing on what body language and personal space communicate and how materials and design become visual, tactile language that speaks viscerally. My work has shown in several solo and group exhibitions including at the Kelowna Art Gallery, Stride Gallery (Calgary), Vernon Public Art Gallery, and Soo Visual Art Center (Minneapolis, MN), and the Alternator Centre (Kelowna). I hold an Interdisciplinary MFA in Visual Art from the University of British Columbia, Kelowna, an MA in Applied Linguistics from Northern Arizona University, and a BA in Fine Art, Art History, and Spanish from St. Cloud State in Minnesota. (Photo credit: Lincoln Clarkes)
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