Whether you are a Brock student, an incoming first-year or someone who even researched Brock when making his/her university choice, the “Both Sides of the Brain” slogan and advertising campaign is immediately recognizable and familiar. It’s even become part of the physical Brock landscape as there are massive banners hanging externally from buildings around campus.
This advertising campaign began in 2009, and promised that Brock University would provide a multi-faceted university experience in which logic, and creativity — a holistic approach to learning —would predominate.
However, the question of whether or not this is true in the classroom depends far too much on context, individual learning capabilities, departments, etc. Therefore, I’m discussing the university as a whole – as a physical educational institution. I believe that now, in the 2015-2016 school year, Brock is coming closer than ever to fully achieving and realizing that goal with new initiatives and construction.
The first universities established, both in Medieval and Early Modern times, while they did research in astronomy and medicine, the largest focus in these times was the study of the humanities. Theology, philosophy, literature, languages, the classics, and of course, the arts remained at the centre of the curriculum. Now more than 500 years later, the university experience and the social perception of the value of university is extremely different.
The stereotypical perception of universities is that the most important work is being done ‘in the lab’. While this is still a problem in the public’s view, over the past few years, Brock’s attitude towards this has seemed to change as it’s invested millions of dollars into the arts programs, specifically with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts satellite campus that has opened in downtown St. Catharines to host arts, drama and music students.
This 45 million dollar building has renewed Brock’s vows of dedication to arts, humanities and has essentially shown that Brock is not single-faceted in its support of business and sciences, but instead encourages a number of faculties to thrive in their given fields.
The appointment of Shirly Cheecho, an aboriginal educator, filmmaker and artist sends a strong message. The symbolic head of our institution has changed from Ned Goodman — an extremely successful businessman — to a woman who is doing extremely important work in far less measurable fields. Overall, these things and more represent a clear ideological shift towards faculty equality and only looks to improve in the future.
While you still may be harassed when people find you’re an English, History or Dramatic Arts major — they may still ignorantly inquire, ‘what can you do with that’. But the attitudes of students will hopefully change in the coming years as Brock grows into a multi-faceted and well-rounded university that embraces the idea of ‘both sides of the brain’ beyond just their advertising department.