ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College is notorious for a lot of things. Being a competitive, intellectually vibrant community? Yes. Laying claim to the best dining hall in the entire university? Absolutely. Academically catering to honors students deeply involved in the artistic communities of downtown Phoenix? Not so much… until now.
Starting next semester, Barrett, The Honors College will offer a one-credit class available to all honors students that focuses on local involvement in the arts. The class, aptly called “Metro Museums, Musicals and Movement,” explores cultural and artistic events throughout the city.
Barrett events coordinator Denise Minter, who has an academic background in musical education, came up with the idea for the new course and will co-teach alongside Honors faculty fellow Dr. Diane Facinelli, who teaches a similar honors class called “Cultural Encounters.”
Every week, enrolled students will attend a predetermined performance or museum, ranging from a night at the Arizona Opera to a full tour of the Phoenix Heard Museum. The schedule of events is peppered with hour-long class sessions that consist of information from representatives of specific cultural venues regarding background history and significance of what the students are “studying.”
“What sets it apart is that it’s centered around the arts: learning about them and then experiencing them directly,” Facinelli said. “Students do not just attend cultural events; they also learn about them from experts in order to enhance their experiences.”
Margo Marcinkowski, a Barrett industrial design and design management junior, believes the course is an approachable way to teach art to a college-level crowd.
“I think it ties in nicely with the emphasis that the first-year Human Event class placed on artistic expression and culture, so I think it’s a great idea for an honors class,” Marcinkowski said. “I’ve seen a lot of literature and film-related honors courses, but very few take a community centered and personal approach to culture.”
Jill Johnson, program manager and student adviser for Barrett, The Honors College at the Downtown campus, said because of the experience-based nature of the course, a traditional classroom setting may not be the best way to follow-up with what the students are learning.
“Classroom learning is important, but the value of learning outside needs to be emphasized in all academic sectors,” Johnson said. “In this class especially, students take in so much information that really can’t be effectively communicated within a classroom.”
Since the class is only one credit, it grants more leniency when it comes to the strict scheduling, elevated academics and increased workload that is generally synonymous with an honors class. Realistically, that leniency is probably something from which most students in the honors college could benefit.
For what the course lacks in lengthy essays and arduous assigned readings, however, it makes up for by pushing students to truly engage on a higher level of thinking.
“(Students) are still required to process the information they are gleaning, calculate methodically and intelligently what they’ve observed, and critically think about how important arts are to local environments,” Johnson said.
After all, it is a Barrett class.
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