A novel feature of our programs is the inclusion of community-based projects in course-related experiential opportunities. These unique courses are designed to include key elements, adapted from the Association for Experiential Education.
Community engagement opportunities are carefully chosen and linked to discipline-specific course content, keeping with key principles in mind and with the expectation that:
- Learning is supported by reflection and critical analysis.
- Experiences are structured to require the student to take initiative, make decisions, acknowledge the opinions of others, consider the evidence, change course of action, and be accountable for results.
- Students are engaged intellectually, emotionally and socially because the learning is a product of an authentic experience.
- The instructor and student may experience success, failure, adventure, risk-taking and uncertainty because the outcomes of the experience can’t totally be predicted.
Below are some examples of courses in which our instructors have embedded experiential, collaborative, community-based projects into the course and classroom experience:
Course developer and instructor: Dr. Nikol Piskuric
Community partner: Addiction Services at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (Womankind Addiction Services)
This course examines the molecular, cellular and circuit-level abnormalities that underlie nervous system diseases, including drug addiction, channelopathies, spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative diseases. Students work in groups in partnership with Womankind Addiction Services to develop resources and online Apps that support recovery and that stability of recovery for clients. Within the course, students develop proposals. Three students from the course in 2016 went on to complete thesis or project work in the following year that created the tools proposed in this course.
Course developer and instructor: Dr. Ayesha Khan
Community partner: McMaster University, and McMaster University’s Student Health Education Office (SHEC)
Sample topics include an exploration into human anatomy, sexual development, fertility, pregnancy and childbirth, and sexually transmitted diseases. Students work in groups to partner in their university community with SHEC to create informational brochures on current topics related to student health and well-being.
Course developer and instructor: Dr. Janet Pritchard
Community partner: Hamilton City Housing, the Physical Activity Centre for Excellence (PACE) and the Pulse.
This course extends the study of nutrition beyond the examination of macro- and micro-nutrients to investigating topics such as dietary analysis/planning, supplementation usage and human health/disease management. Students collaborate in groups to develop and lead workshops on nutrition and disease with three different community partners including Hamilton City Housing, the Physical Activity Centre for Excellence and the Pulse. In 2017, students went to visit community partners to demonstrate their workshops.