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Finn won the university teaching excellence award last year.
Rhiannon Kirkland/the Gauntlet

Finn looks at the finer side of life

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University of Calgary fine arts professor Patrick Finn is teaching a new series of classes which hope to shed new light on the positive aspects of human life.

Finn's introductory fine arts courses, Creativity and Story, are now in their second year of instruction. This year saw the addition of higher level courses Love and Happiness taught in the drama faculty.

"What we are trying to do with these four new courses is something a little different than what other courses are offering," said Finn. "In a sense, the important thing is just getting as many different perspectives as we can in a room engaging with these ideas that are sort of central to all of us."

The courses examine each subject in the context of historical developments, modern day realities and potential future implications.

"Whether it is Creativity, Story, Love or Happiness, you are talking about a class that is directly related to something that is important to all of us," said Finn. "Every one of these classes will make your life better with very little effort."

The courses promote respectful, open debate and discussion.

"The best thing, every single year in every course I have ever taught, is the new set of ideas that are brought by students," said Finn. "There is nothing more exciting than the new engaging, inspiring and curious type of questioning that comes up inside of the classroom."

Love and Happiness are open to students who have completed either Story or Creativity. In each class, students must attend four arts events and write a short response for each. The courses are designed to be accessible to students from all faculties.

"People are born with an innate ability to communicate through story," said drama department head Clem Martini. "I think that it is empowering people to use the tools that they are born with and perhaps have disinherited."

Finn won the university teaching excellence award for Creativity and Story last year.

"These courses have only been around a short time but have really taken off," said Martini. "They have proven again and again that they were a correct choice and that Patrick Finn is the teacher who is best able to present them."

Third-year English major Andrea Lowe is a fan of Finn's teaching style and plans to continue taking his courses.

"Creativity class is one of my favourite classes," said Lowe. "The topics are interesting and relative to all fields of study which makes it extremely applicable to students of all disciplines."

Finn believes that students make his course successful. Results from the National Student Survey and Evaluation, a Canada-wide student survey that measures a wide variety of school-related qualities including community engagement and quality of instruction, inspired the courses.

"They were put in place as a response to the students and the reason that they are fantastic courses, and they are fantastic courses, is because they are exactly what students wanted," said Finn.

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