‘We Are CLA’ spotlights liberal arts

Each year the College of Liberal Arts gathers its departments to host the ‘We are CLA’ open house, which seeks to generate interest in the college, and exhibit to campus and the Fairbanks community the value of the liberal arts and the accomplishments of UAF’s largest college.

This year there are five scholarships each of $500 to be given away. Organizers have created a scavenger hunt for the event, with the winners each being awarded a scholarship. The scavenger hunt will include activities like meeting the CLA student adviser, Kathleen Nava, and scheduling an advising meeting, an effort to get students more involved in the college.

The event was originally created by current CLA Dean Todd Sherman to attract new students to the college. However, over the years it has morphed into an event that still attracts new students but also largely caters toward current students and connections with faculty and colleagues.

“Often the CLA departments can get somewhat disconnected because it is such a huge college,” Alexander Hirsch, a political science professor said. “This event is great because it allows the departments to gather and generate a collective identity.”

The event is both informative and dynamic, Hirsch said, meant to educate students in what is going in the college but to also get students excited about being involved in the liberal arts in general. It provides information for new and current students with each department hosting its own table, often including a fun interactive activity.

Last year the music department had instruments out at their table, open for people to play. Previously the philosophy department has worn togas to express their love for the Greeks.

“This event gives us an opportunity to express in a prideful way who the college is, what it is we do and why it’s important,” Hirsch said.

The liberal arts in general has been defensive over the years with regard to claims that receiving a degree in the college of liberal arts, as opposed to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields, won’t be marketable later when looking for a job, Hirsch said. This event allows the college to show that the liberal arts provides important life skills like communication and critical thinking that will assist students even in other departments and later in life.

With the current climate of economic uncertainty with both the state and the university, the CLA feels this event is also important in influencing how the college is viewed and the value placed in it as the university undergoes large scale cuts and continues to prepare for more substantial changes in structure, Hirsch said.

This year the event will be hosted on Friday, Oct. 7 in the Great Hall from 3 – 5:30 p.m.

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