Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why Do We Have Community Gardens on Campus?

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Prairie Urban Farm, University of Alberta
Community gardens are cropping up in cities across the world. Researchers across the academy have been watching this phenomenon closely, and many studies have noted a number of benefits of community gardens, including enhanced personal health among participants, community-building, support for green spaces, and of course, the provision of fresh, healthy produce. Considering the high number of prevalent diseases and other health concerns that are related to diet and exercise, the growing enthusiasm for community gardening is good news indeed.

Friday, August 4, 2017

5 Stories to Read From The World of Higher Ed

Dealing with tenure denial, the state of mental health supports from the student perspective, and 3 other stories are featured in the latest collection of PSE stories from around the web.

Monday, July 10, 2017

What Does Teaching Excellence Mean to You? Some Reflections on “Pedagogy and Curriculum Design”

Image courtesy of Mimi Okabe
As an undergrad, some of the best courses that I remember taking were the ones that were taught by professors who seemed passionate and genuinely interested in the course content. They were professional, approachable, knowledgeable, and had a sense of humour. These are the professors whom, I think, all instructors should strive to emulate. At the opposite end of the spectrum, I can also recall some of the worst courses I took (although there were only a few)—these include the ones where the professor delegated information in a b-o-r-i-n-g and unexciting way. Yes, the ones who read content off their slides—ultimately, the classes that I skipped.

What are the telltale signs of a successful instructor?


Friday, July 7, 2017

The Higher Ed Round Up: July 7, 2017

Does a fear of “looking stupid” hold you back in the classroom? Read about this and more in this latest collection of PSE stories from around the web.

Friday, June 23, 2017

8 Stories From The World of Higher Ed

The worst sentence ever, dealing with temp academic positions, and more are included in this latest collection of PSE stories from around the web.

Friday, June 16, 2017

10 Stories From The World of Higher Ed

Academic hoaxes, PDF burnout, the summer slump, and more are included in this latest collection of PSE stories from around the web.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Consider This: Experiential Learning through Exhibition Curatorship

Photograph courtesy of Anne Bissonnette ©
View of the exhibition in the “A Dose of Design” section.
I was stunned and giddy. For the first time in its history, a Richard Martin Award for Excellence in the Exhibition of Costume was given to an exhibition co-curated by students. My students. Our exhibit, Eyewear: Fashion with Vision, opened in the University of Alberta’s Human Ecology Gallery in November 2016, and in May 2017, it received the coveted Costume Society of America award at the organization’s annual national conference in the US. Awardees have included major institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.


Friday, June 9, 2017

12 Stories From The World of Higher Ed

Conference smarm, public attention, scope creep and more are included in this latest collection of PSE stories from around the web.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Convocation: The View from the Stage

Convocation at the University of Alberta
Journeys, and the footwear we choose for them. That’s what I think of as I watch thousands of graduates cross in front of me each year.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Convocation - It's Time!

Convocation at UAlberta
Convocation is both a wedding and a roller coaster.

It’s like a wedding because it’s a celebration, a legal ceremony, and a long day marked with memorable moments. There is excitement, nerves, and drama. There are thousands of details and even more opinions on how it should all be done and what will happen next.

Friday, May 26, 2017

13 Stories From The World of Higher Ed

Populism, the drive to translate academia for the public, and more are included in this latest collection of PSE stories from around the web.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Consider This: Truth First

New Trail Spring 2017 - Truth First
The truth is hard to hear. Even if you know about Canada’s residential school legacy, the scope of what happened is difficult to grasp.


Friday, May 19, 2017

20 Stories From The World of Higher Ed

Diversity, diversity, diversity! Also, why do your students like you? These topics and more are included in this latest collection of PSE stories from around the web.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Consider This: Ottawa's new rules won't close the diversity gap in research chairs

Voluntary efforts by universities to improve the diversity of the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRCP) have proven to be inadequate. That’s why new rules issued by the federal government last week in an attempt to boost representation are welcome news.

But they don’t go far enough.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Consider This: Mourning Those Lost On the Job

Recognizing the National Day of Mourning for Persons Killed and Injured at Work at the University of Alberta
There are four times of the year that remind me about the importance of what I do here at the university - March 23rd, April 28, 1st full week in May and August 18th.

In a previous life I was the Manager of Occupational Health and Safety at the City of London, in Southwestern Ontario.  On March 23, 1996 at 11:25 a.m. I received a call from a colleague, David Howard.  It was a Saturday and I was just heading out the door to visit some friends.  David’s call was important.  He said, “Andrew, there’s been an explosion at the Silverwoods Arena and one of our staff has been seriously hurt….”


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Consider This: How to Nurture Student Leaders

The relationship between university administrators and student leaders, whether they are activists or elected by their peers, is complicated. These students are partners in governance, and they are astute and sometimes vocal critics — but they are also learners. In some ways, we are their mentors. Certainly, it’s challenging to maintain all those dimensions of the relationship and keep it a productive partnership that works for the institution and its community.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Entitlement and Me: Problems in Canadian Medical Education

Categories: ,

A "Consider This" Piece

When I was admitted to medical school in Canada, I was commended by my new professors as one of the country’s brightest students. The first months inculcated and cultivated the idea that I was exceptional and set apart from other students who did not make it to medical school. Sometimes the praise was explicit, sometimes not; few probably noticed. Yet there was a subtle message: I was special and deserved all my success because of it.

The Aga Khan Garden: A Preview of Things to Come

Last week’s public unveiling of the Aga Khan Garden Alberta, to be located at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, was an eye-opener for many. I, like many others, envisioned an oasis garden with fruit trees and palms around a desert oasis. We are all, however, challenged to re-imagine a contemporary garden drawing from the Mughal, Ottoman and Islamic cultures of history. This enlightenment comes with the new garden made possible by a gift of over $25 million from His Highness the Aga Khan.


Consider This: Reasoning with Student Resistance

Reasoning with Student Resistance
After spending hours designing an engaging and thought provoking group activity, you are finally able to reveal it to your class. As you finish your explanation you are met with blank stares, unimpressed faces, and rolling eyes. Questions like “Do we really have to participate?” and “Aren’t you supposed to be teaching me?” appear scrawled on students’ foreheads. After coaxing students to finally interact, you finish the class and students pour out of the room. Disheartened, you are left to reflect on why they resisted what you thought was an excellent activity.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Consider This Opinion Piece: The Tyranny of Student Evaluations

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UAlberta Course Evaluations
Faculty members are generally rather dubious about the effectiveness of student evaluations of teaching and I believe such skepticism to be well founded. Even when a chair’s letter accompanies the USRIs, the dependence on student evaluations of teaching can lead to all sorts of problems, some of them quite unexpected.
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