Past Directors

Patrick Mahon, 2018 - 2021


Passing the Torch
Patrick Mahon
SASAH Director, Jan. 2018 – June 2021

Today, I am completing my term as Director of the School for Advanced Studies in Arts & Humanities, and Dr. Aara Suksi is beginning hers. Aara has just spent the past year, most generously, as SASAH’s Associate Director.

Welcome, Aara. I am so thrilled that you are taking the reins of our amazing program. I’m certain you will make a remarkable contribution, will truly enjoy the job, and will benefit from it personally in unforgettable ways. I know I did.

My experience with the SASAH program has been life-changing, challenging, humbling, and joyful. And I have learned so much: from the students; Program Coordinator, Jen Tramble; Experiential Learning Coordinator, Dr. Barb Bruce; First Year Instructor, Dr. Laurence de Looze; Dean Michael Milde; and so many other colleagues and SASAH supporters.

There are so many things I have come to value from doing this work, including my commitment to interdisciplinary.What is so great about interdisciplinarity? Admittedly, it can be difficult to define, to be consistent with, and to show a legible path to its potential successes beforehand.
But it works: it works because it centres on the person, the learner, and it doesn’t continually prioritize the institution and its history. Though we need some of both.

Interdisciplinarity makes room: it makes room for new people – perhaps especially people who are different from some others who were here before; for new ideas; new ways of doing things. Sometimes it even means we need to changes the room altogether.

It also makes space for the unexpected, for successes we may not previously have recognized in quite the same way. And… imagine…. it even makes room for mistakes.

Nobody who learns with, teaches in, or otherwise works with SASAH ever leaves unchanged. And neither do they ever truly “leave” SASAH. I like to think that, once you’re “done,” you are supposed to head out into the world with your tools and hopes in tow, but return engagements of all sorts are not only expected, they are welcomed.

Hold onto your hat, Aara, and treasure this experience! Thank you, SASAH.

Previous Message:

This is an exciting and important time for the most forward-thinking university students to be engaged in humanities scholarship, and community-based and global change-making. As the Director of the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities at Western, I know it's vital that we understand our increasingly diversified and interconnected world and we develop skills and knowledges that enable us to forge significant responses to complex issues.

Our program's Mission is a bold one:

To educate citizens who thrive and lead in a time of transformative change. Through an interdisciplinary issues-based education, SASAH prepares graduates with new competencies for the jobs, the leadership roles, and the studies that the future requires.

How would I describe a SASAH student?
One who:
- Thrives on an interdisciplinary, issues-based education
- Sees the benefits and outcomes of their learning in relation to dramatically changing social, cultural, and environmental situations
- Understands and thrives in a teamwork environment, while being strongly self-actualized, personally motivated, and hard working
- Adapts successfully to the etiquette and protocols of the university classroom, the workplace, the public sphere, and within technologically mediated contexts.

On our website you'll read the new headline, Learning with Humanity. At SASAH we're committed to engaged, ongoing education alongside other in the university and the wider community. What does that look like? We know that the environment; gender, race relationships and decolonial initiatives; and the community - including as it relates to mental health - require our urgent attention. So, our program offers opportunities to engage directly and creatively with those matters so that our work truly matters in the real-world.

At SASAH, we probe the histories and strategies of humanities practices to find innovative ways to confirm the world as a place of possibility. Our students do this by forging creative paths that lead to renewed ideas about leadership. This is an ambious agenda. Guided by SASAH Faculty Research Fellows, our students are doing very important work! As Director of SASAH, I'm honoured to execute my role amidst the big challenge of the world of today. I hope you'll join me: whether as a student, a colleague, or a participant in the activities outreach initiatives you'll read about on this website. Together, let's learn with humanity.

Professor Patrick Mahon, SASAH Director

Joel Faflak, 2013 - 2018


Welcome to SASAH!

Understanding our increasingly diversified, interconnected world demands the vision and insight of sustainable responses to complex issues. Meeting this challenge through critical and cultural thought and practice defines the mandate of the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities: to educate the imaginations of our students so they can realize their potential to help transform the world.

SASAH combines interdisciplinary study, experiential and service learning, language acquisition, and international study to make our students employment ready. But it also makes them ambassadors for a learned, tolerant, compassionate society. As global citizens we expect our students to disrupt accepted ways of knowing. Thinking deeply means finding new modes of thought and action, greater capacities for insight, new ways to relate to others. We need to understand the myths we’ve lived by, creating new ones where required, discarding old ones where necessary.

So, we ask our students to think in terms of far-reaching value, viability, and fulfillment as well as short-term feedback and success. They analyze, orchestrate, synthesize, and manage vast swaths of knowledge across divergent fields. This makes them excellent project managers. What sets them apart as invaluable assets to any society is their fearless intellectual and emotional curiosity. They critique, intuit, imagine, and beautifully and persuasively express what isn’t said or known in order to change people’s minds for the better. This makes them visionaries.

Dr. Joel Faflak, SASAH Director