Posted on April 15, 2010 by Tia Lalani

Nhial Tiitmamer speaks to the Learning and Beyond Office about the Augustana Place-Based Learning initiative.

By Nhial Tiitmamer –

During the last Student Academic Conference (SAC), Drs. Jeremy Mouat, Paula Marentette and Karsten Mundel convened an audience over a soup supper to celebrate three years of Augustana’s Place-Based Learning Initiative. Over the last three years, the program that looks at local places as sources of learning has gained currency.

Ryan Mason of the Learning and Beyond Office said the program has given students an opportunity to focus on a place in which they live, learn from it and research its social and ecological aspects. Through the initiative, the Learning and Beyond Office has been able to do some “great research” on things that would have not been considered, such as researching a sustainability plan for the City of Camrose.

The Place-Based Learning Initiative is a brainchild of Drs. Mouat and Mündel, who secured a three-year grant from the University of Alberta’s Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund. Over the last three years, the grant has been used to expand students’ learning opportunities, which include a series of Community Service Learning (CSL) courses, practica and the Bailey Theatre Course.

CSL courses provide students with an opportunity to apply in-class theories by doing volunteer internships with local organizations in Camrose and East-Central Alberta.

“By getting out of the classroom and volunteering, students and community members share in the learning process through various projects and organizations such as the Municipal Sustainability Plan, Camrose Open Door, Strome School, Chester Ronning School and Children’s Health and Mentorship Program (CHAMP),” said Danielle Hachey of the Learning and Beyond Office. The office runs the CSL, outdoor education and international exchange programs.

Students have been immersed in the Augustana signature outdoor education, a program of epic experience, which takes students to many places of ecological and environmental significance, including northern Canada. Students also connect with the local environment and study local places of historical importance like the legendary Bailey Theatre in Camrose.

Hachey appreciates the unwavering support the campus community has given the program. “We could not have done this work without the broader Augustana community and its support of this initiative and related undertakings of the Learning and Beyond office,” said Hachey.

“Creating meaningful off-campus experiential learning opportunities for students requires not only committed professors and students, but also administrators and support staff who help us to stretch traditional conceptions of teaching and learning in higher education,” she said. “We could not do what we do without support from the people in the many offices and units at this campus. We thank everyone for their encouragement and support.”

Dr. Mouat talked about the Bailey Theatre Course, which he co-teaches with Anne-Marie Link, while Dr. Mundel discussed Place-Based Learning. He specifically covered the importance of experiential learning opportunities such as international, outdoor and CSL programs. Dr. Marentette talked about the importance of Student Academic Conference, in which students present their research works each semester.

As a faculty of one of the top research-intensive universities, Augustana takes undergraduate research seriously. Modeled on American liberal arts and sciences tradition, Augustana Campus is the only Canadian member of the prestigious Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC). This has widened our undergraduate research prospects and access to a wide range of opportunities. Each year, Augustana Faculty selects outstanding independent student research projects, which are then published in the COPLAC journal, The Metamorphosis. For a student work to be published in The Metamorphosis, it must be presented at a Student Academic Conference and submitted to a faculty adjudication committee by the student’s mentors.

The last SAC saw 94 student presentations, most from capstones, directed readings and CSL courses. The best outstanding independent student works will potentially appear in upcoming issues of The Metamorphosis.

More information about COPLAC’s undergraduate journal.
More information about Outstanding Independent Work Award.

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