A. KITIWANO — You have been Dean of the Faculty of Arts for some time. How did you become the big boss?
K. KEE — I’m the Dean as well as a professor, so I research and teach. Previous to my 2015 appointment as Dean, I held a Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities and was the Associate Vice-President of Research at another university. I feel immensely privileged to be able to serve as the Dean of Arts. It’s an exciting time for the liberal arts, the Faculty of Arts, and the University of Ottawa.
You had to move. How do you like Ottawa?
Ottawa is world-class. Last year it was rated the best city in Canada for students. It has all the great museums and galleries that one would expect of Canada’s capital city, as well as a lively restaurant scene, and festivals year-round. But what I like most is that the National Capital Region is a giant outdoor playground with mountains, beaches, camping, skiing, the world’s largest outdoor skating rink, and hundreds of freshwater lakes. It’s rare to have easy access to all this in an urban setting, and our campus is in the middle of it all.
What’s so special about the Faculty of Arts?
The Faculty of Arts is the place to study the human sciences – we are a crossroads of culture and ideas. Solving today’s problems, and leveraging tomorrow’s opportunities, requires university graduates to research thoroughly, analyze carefully, and communicate persuasively. That’s what we do. We are also the oldest faculty in Ottawa and Arts - the liberal arts - are the foundation of education. This is where everything started.
Ok, so when you say “Arts,” it’s more than just paintings?
That’s right. The arts in the Faculty of Arts includes the humanities, like communications, history, philosophy, geography. It also includes languages, literatures and translation, as well as fine arts like music, theatre and visual arts.
I’ve heard you talk a lot about STEAM (STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering, Math – with Arts in the middle). What is that?
When I talk to CEOs and leaders in technology companies, they tell me they want more Bachelor of Arts graduates. Companies like Google and Apple are thriving because they have creative teams composed of people with an Arts background. Now more than ever, we need thinkers, communicators, professionals and artists solving complex problems and developing solutions. With this in mind, we have created interdisciplinary opportunities for our students to create and innovate alongside STEM students. That’s STEAM!
I’ve also heard you talk a lot about Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. Can you tell me about that?
Many of the world’s most successful innovators and entrepreneurs have Arts degrees. Our new Entrepreneurship, Creativity and Social Innovation option gives you the opportunity to turn your creative aspirations into tangible realities, and embark on your business or social sector journey. It delivers a balance between theory and practice through learning opportunities, coupled with valuable resources and support for you as a future entrepreneur.
There is a lot to Arts. How should students be thinking about their future?
I tell students what I tell my son (who is doing Arts) and my daughter (who is planning to do Arts). You should base your choice of program on your interests and your strengths. At the end of the day, if you work hard, and take advantage of all the opportunities available in downtown Ottawa, you will lead a fulfilled life, and also get a good paying job, no matter what field of study you choose.
Where might we find you on campus?
I hope students will drop by my office. If it’s winter we might meet during my daily commute – skating on the canal – one of my favourite things about Ottawa.
By Annie Katiwano, student in communication