Claudia Pedrero: Art History & International Relations Double Major

Claudia Pedrero (BA’11) came to UBC Arts in first year unsure about her university path.  Now after four years, she graduated with a double major in Art History and International Relations, and was awarded the 2011 Dean’s Award for Outstanding Leadership in Arts.

“It started out because of basic indecisiveness.  I decided to do both Art History and International Relations because I really ended up liking both and it was not going to be too much work to do a few extra courses,” said Claudia.  “The Art History department focuses on the social function of art and cultural history, and my Political Science courses gave me a good background of what was happening in the broader sense.”

For Claudia, studying the two majors at the same time meant she was able to take coursework and theory from both Art History and International Relations, and relate them together in innovative ways.  In January 2011, Claudia ran a Student Directed Seminar along with Dr. Allen Sens entitled “Stealing History: Art and Cultural Property and Armed Conflict.”

“We looked at different case studies of armed conflicts in the later 20th century and how cultural property has figured into that on both an ideological side and also on the material side. We branched out into some legal topics and discussed museum practices,” said Claudia.  “I didn’t realize how much material was on this topic until I started putting together the course content.  It has been amazing how open the university is to non-traditional forms of learning. It is a very unique project.  I think it is amazing and I am really glad I got that opportunity.”

Besides running a Student Directed Seminar, Claudia also had the opportunity to serve as president of the Art History Students Association (AHSA).  As a result of her leadership with the AHSA, the club grew, and was able to offer more events and professional development activities to its members.

“We have made the club more active and expanded what we are doing.  We have had more events, more club nights, and we are collaborating with the Belkin Art Gallery,” said Claudia.  “We are looking at how these institutions do curatorial work because there are not many opportunities for undergrads to get a sense of what curatorial work is like.  It was a bare bones introduction to how curators work in a more practical sense, and how the gallery works on a business side and what their collections are like.”

By leading the AHSA and directing a Student Directed Seminar, Claudia was able to put her classroom knowledge into practice.  She credits the involvement opportunities and learning experiences for providing her with a deeper understanding of her Art History and International Relations courses.

“It’s given me some perspective in terms of the realities of the job, in terms of what certain institutions are like, and in terms of what I can do with my degree,” said Claudia.

“Going outside the classroom allows you to engage with people that are already in these fields.  Seeing what they are like has made the decision process that much clearer.”

Written by Timmy Wong
Article Published June 16, 2011