Electives are better than you think

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One of UVU’s big philosophies is that of “engagement.”  You’ve surely seen the banners on campus, the billboards on the freeway and the sides of UTA buses saying so. While BYU’s student body is often noted for frequent engagement of a different sort (hardy har), what does UVU’s marketing presence actually mean? The UVU Engage website prominently displays the words “Relevant. Practical. Real.”  What does that mean for students?

Going through the course catalogue, you may be wondering why students getting associates or bachelors degrees are required to take classes that don’t seem to directly apply to their own fields of study. Why should a biology major have to take a fine arts class? Why should an English lit major have to take a science class like Biology 1010? (For the record, I failed it twice.)

It’s to get you involved. Not all of these electives need to be boring trudges through uninteresting areas. For example, taking Writing for the Mass Media (Communications 1130), a class that covers your Humanities Distribution requirement, means that you write and publish an article with the UVU Review. If you like that experience, perhaps you’ll abandon pursuing that wacky chemistry degree in favor of a communications degree with an emphasis in journalism.

Maybe you’ll sign up for an intro to business class and decide that you’d rather make money than read good books, so you drop some of the British Literature classes and aim for business administration and go on to get an MBA graduate degree from UVU’s newly-instituted program.

Changing your path of academic study isn’t the only way to get engaged with your education, either. Certain classes can open up new social groups, pastimes, hobbies or even life experiences. The Theater department, for example, has collaborated with the world-famous Sundance Institute on some professional theatrical productions. The most recent, Big River, is directed by Elizabeth Hansen, an Emmy Award nominee and a former adjunct faculty member.

“UVU is providing a lot of the talent behind the scenes,” said Melissa Larson, theater department lecturer and Big River stage manager.  “Almost everyone on the artistic staff and technical crew are involved at UVU.”

Students are encouraged to get involved with their departments at large, like the theater students participating in professional productions. (Last year’s UVU/Sundance collaborative production of The Fantasticks was twice attended by The Sundance Kid himself, Robert Redford. Other opportunities to not only help yourself with experience but also to help others with your time include contributing to local high schools and youth groups, businesses and non-profits.

For more information, visit the UVU Engage website at www.UVU.edu/Engage or visit the UVU Center For Engaged Learning in Room LC-217 of the Losee Learning Center.

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