Dr. Pauline D. Gagnon
Professor and Interim Dean
The University of West Georgia’s College of Arts and Humanities aspires to become a nationally
recognized center for achievement in the arts and humanities.
The mission of the College of Arts and Humanities (COAH) is to enable students, faculty, and
staff to realize the full potential of a liberal arts education through academic engagement;
supportive services; professional development; and a caring, student-centered community. We
deliver high-quality undergraduate, graduate, and community programs on-campus, off-campus,
and online. COAH emphasizes academic excellence and community engagement in the arts and
humanities, recognizing the transformative power of a liberal arts education.
COAH supports students in their efforts to complete degrees in the arts and humanities, valuing
liberal arts and professional preparation. Through effective and innovative teaching, experiential
learning, scholarship, creative endeavor, and a commitment to the public arts and humanities,
COAH equips graduates to engage with and discover new forms of knowledge. COAH is
dedicated to building on its existing strengths, including the understanding of global cultures
across time, the power of creative expression, and the use of writing to ground disciplinary
inquiry. COAH will continue to develop distinctive programs and services related to the arts and
humanities, while also remaining engaged in interdisciplinary collaboration with professional
networks at UWG and in the community.
COAH responds to economic development and identified regional, state, and global needs. With
the understanding that the arts and humanities affect human beings internally and the world
externally, COAH empowers our alumni and the community we serve to contribute responsibly
and creatively to a complex twenty-first century global society, where the definition of “human”
is continually contested and reshaped.
This Spring Dr. Muriel Cormican and Dr. Betsy Dahms kicked off their town-gown reading project at Underground Books on the Square with three great pieces: How I Shed My Skin by Jim Grinsley (American/discussion led by Betsy Dahms), Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima (Japanese/discussion led by Shannon Fink), and The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (German/discussion led by Muriel Cormican). The project will continue through the fall semester with futher selections from Italy, Ireland, and Martinique. So far, the sessions have been well-attended and the level of active particiaption and interest has been impressive and encouraging. The idea for the project stems from a sense that despite an increasingly navigable and ever-shrinking world, and despite almost constant bombardment with the idea that we must think globally and act locally, far too few of us have to think globally on a regular basis. Quite often, the stories of people in other places that we know are stories told by others (reporters, for example) about those people who are either in tragic (immigrants and migrants and refugees) or economically laudable (Germans and Scandinavians, etc) situations. Such stories often leave us with little other than stereotypes or repetitions and offer us limited insight into people’s understanding of themselves, their situations, and their worlds. The Other Places, Other Lives project brings the stories that other people in other places tell about themselves to our town in a way that combines the educational mission of the University, the College of Arts and Humanities, and the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures with the communally-minded business practices of the small local bookstore Underground Books, and the interests of the general population. As a 2013 article entitled “Opening the Closed Mind: The Effect of Exposure to Literature on the Need for Closure” in Creativity Research Journal demonstrates (and it is not unique), reading literature makes us less desirous of cognitive closure and thus more empathetic, open to otherness, thoughtful, constructively critical, and creative. So far, it seems that the reading group, devoted to works from around the world, has added a productive, thought-provoking, and unifying element to our community as that community changes and grows and welcomes more and more citizens with foreign roots, histories, traditions, and cultures. Discussions that are often only associated with the classroom are happening elsewhere and with a diverse group of people who just want to read, discuss, think, and understand.
The School of the Arts (SOTA) at the University of West Georgia houses the departments of Music, Art, and Theatre, along with programs in Film Studies and Creative Writing. In addition, SOTA sponsors its own events on and off campus, and facilitates a number of arts-based initiatives in the surrounding schools and communities.
Want to write, direct, and even STAR in your own short film this summer? Join us for the School of the Arts Film Camp at UWG!