Meet Kate Scarth, Chair of Lucy Maud Montgomery Studies and Assistant Professor
What's your job title here at UPEI, and what is your typical workday like?
It’s a long one! I’m Chair of L.M. Montgomery Studies and Assistant Professor of Applied Communication, Leadership, and Culture (ACLC).
On the Montgomery side, my main project right now is editing the Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies. I work with an amazing team here at UPEI—at the L.M. Montgomery Institute (LMMI), in the Robertson Library, and students in the Faculty of Arts—as well as scholars across PEI, Canada, and the world. With the LMMI, I get to work with students on a lot of different projects—they have created multimedia exhibits for the Journal, a literary tour, a map of Montgomery’s PEI, a timeline celebrating Montgomery’s connection to UPEI, and lots of material for the LMMI website and the Journal. With Trinna S. Frever, an American colleague, I’m also collecting people’s stories of discovering and engaging with the world of L.M. Montgomery, whether that’s her fiction or adaptations of her work.
My teaching happens in ACLC and my primary teaching is in three Putting Arts to Works courses, where students explore their Liberal Arts education—its purposes, uses, and applications. For example, my Putting Arts to Work II students learn research skills and create a multimedia research project. The last time I taught the course, projects were interesting and wide-ranging, including one on the history of music and another on dyslexia in education.
I’ve also taught an English course and the students created a podcast—I can’t wait to hear it! Students have already proposed titles, taglines, icons and logos, and intro and outro sequences (including music composed just for this assignment). I was blown by their creativity and thoughtfulness.
So, I spend a lot of my time thinking about what I hope are interesting readings and assignments, then I actually plan the classes and teach the material, and, of course, there’s also grading student work.
What brought you to UPEI? In other words, why did you choose to join the faculty?
Ever since I can remember I was an Anne of Green Gables reader and so to get to work on L.M. Montgomery every day is a dream come true!
I think a lot of students aren’t sure what they can do with an Arts degree or are uncertain of how to articulate the valuable skills and knowledge they’re gaining in their degrees. ACLC helps with that! ACLC teaches twenty-first century skills through courses like Digital Literary and Public Speaking not necessarily foregrounded or explicitly taught in traditional Arts programs like English or sociology. The ACLC program also complements other Arts disciplines by having students reflect on and articulate their learning in their other courses, in anticipation of future interviews, for example. In ACLC, we also support students to take what they’re learning in these other courses—say how to analyze Anne of Green Gables in an English course—and share that with a wider audience by, for example, designing and creating a public digital project like a podcast.
I started working at UPEI just as we started teaching ACLC and it’s been exciting to be part of building a program that I think is both reassuring and inspiring students.
What kinds of opportunities have you experienced because you're teaching and working at UPEI, or because of the Island location?
Amazing colleagues—students here are fortunate to be taught by knowledgeable, engaging professors who truly care about students, teaching, and learning. The Robertson Library is a wonderful resource; not only are the librarians extremely supportive and experts in a range of areas, but the library has been at the cutting edge of new developments in digital initiatives.
It’s also possible to build connections in the wider community easily. For example, I am, with other LMMI committee members, part of a roundtable which brings together PEI Anne/L.M. Montgomery stakeholders, including individuals, organizations, and businesses, working in tourism, entertainment, hospitality, and other sectors, to share ideas and provide mutual support. In ACLC, we’re also fortunate to have two adjunct professors (both UPEI Arts grads!) who share their experience as practitioners with our students.
What's unique about UPEI, in your experience?
The support students receive from faculty. For instance, in ACLC we offer students one-on-one mentoring which complements the excellent advising that UPEI’s Experiential Education unit offers students. Professors at UPEI challenge and inspire students intellectually, whether they’re studying Irish or Atlantic Canadian literature, food or music history, communication or project management, while having students produce creative, skills-building projects like magazine articles, videos, and digital maps, to name just a few examples.
What would you tell a high school student considering a UPEI program?
Explore different programs and courses, both to decide what interests you, what you’d like to major in, and to have a broad education, which exposes you to a range of topics and perspectives. University is a rare opportunity to be able to explore many historical and contemporary issues; no matter what you go on to do in your life that extensive knowledge and openness to learning will be a benefit.
Talk to your classmates and professors. University is a wonderful time to meet people and to learn from others. Your professors are here to support you! I was always very nervous to talk to professors in their office hours but we want to hear from you and there’s nothing like a one-on-one conversation to make ideas and assignments clearer (and hopefully more interesting!).