In January, several UFV courses will take on a new community focus.
These hands-on courses will engage students with the issues of motivating the public to participate in local government and elections, an emphasis on community-based research. Students will research and provide solutions to ongoing community problems.
The five experiential learning courses that will be a part of this new pilot program are VA 390, Community Arts Practice; IDS 400F, Civic Engagement and Participation; GEOG 257/CMNS 257, Environment: Science and Communication; BUS 478, Workspaces and Built Places; and CYC 402, Community and Interdisciplinary Relationships.
These courses will look to enhance experiential learning and community engagement, with opportunities to work directly with the Abbotsford community.
“We want our students to know the community they study and live in, so that they create a meaningful connection, and build their careers in the Fraser Valley,” said Larissa Horne, experiential education coordinator, and history instructor, over email.
The courses align with UFV’s goals of expanding its out-of-classroom opportunities, and fostering a sense of local citizenship. Students in these courses have the opportunity to engage in community-based research, and bring their own perspective and ideas to community projects.
“Post-secondary institutions across B.C. get engaged in community-based research and experiential learning activities more and more extensively, and UFV is no exception,” Horne said. “We serve the Fraser Valley, and have traditionally aspired to cultivate close ties with all municipalities, and have a record of such collaboration.”
Some recent work from the Community Arts Practice course can be seen on the walls of the UFV campuses. Students designed and painted two large art murals, a mountain scene in Chilliwack, and a hidden oasis in Abbotsford.
Many of the courses, while having upper level requirements, are not required for the completion of a degree.
“These courses are introduced for the sake of introducing more students to hands-on learning. It expands the experiential learning opportunities to students, who do not have a mandatory ‘hands-on’ part of program, such as practicums,” said Horne.
Horne believes there are a variety of reasons students might be drawn to these courses. Some may be interested in making a difference in the community, pursuing a passion, growing their employability skills, or prefer a more project-based learning style. She also notes that the courses are a great way of networking within the Abbotsford community.