[box type=”info”]Correction: The alternative history of King’s presented to students by Max Haiven highlighted how the university — not FYP — grew out of a desire for the university to breed upper class elites.[/box]
The Foundation Year Programme (FYP) has got competition or, perhaps more aptly, a friendly rival.
The first event for FYP: Between the Lines was held at the beginning of September in a room packed with first years and FYP graduates.
The Nova Scotia Public Interest Group (NSPIRG) is behind this complement to FYP. Recently ratified as a King’s society, NSPIRG was looking for a way to connect with this community across the campus, said board member and former FYP-er JD Hutton. He said they thought FYP provides a good primer for NSPIRG’s interests of social and environmental justice.
Between the Lines seeks to challenge both FYP’s model of teaching and its perspective on history.
It avoids the “voice of god”-style lectures found in FYP, said Hutton. “It’s supposed to be directed by the students and created by the students based on curiosity,” he said. “So, I hope students will participate in this and we can do some programming based on what people actually want to learn about.”
That programming is yet to be determined. Attendees of the first event were handed a tentative curriculum, one that follows the sections of the original FYP lecture series, but with some twists.
“Understand that philosophy doesn’t just happen in isolation; it’s often as a response to the material conditions of the majority of the people on Earth,” said Hutton, referring to a curriculum guided by the political and economic influences of philosophers.
The program also focuses on the history of the marginalized.
“The university of the people has never existed,” said Max Haiven.
The Nova Scotia College of Art & Design historical and critical studies professor was one of the keynote speakers at the Sept. 10 event. He led the students through an alternative history of King’s, highlighting how FYP grew out of a desire for the university to breed upper class elites.
El Jones, a former FYP tutor and another speaker at the event, spoke of how FYP still holds that “cache” of studying the “great books.”
“We don’t need to throw out our great writers,” she said. Rather, she wants to see students ask hard-hitting questions about the philosophy they are reading. Why, she offered as an example, does FYP study the ideas of democracy, freedom and human rights within a European context only?
It’s these kinds of nagging questions, derived from FYP’s four-day-a-week lectures, that NSPIRG hopes students contribute to the Between the Lines program.
Hutton said the reaction from FYP tutors has been “positive.” Jannette Vusich was the only current FYP tutor in attendance. She declined to comment.
The group is open to suggestions for the structure of the program and the topics it will cover. It hopes to put on around a dozen events this academic year.