The Chemical Control Centre has extended its recycling program to accept cell phones.
From knowing to doing
New course to highlight civic engagement
Citizenship involves more than just paying rent and taxes, says Justin Langlois, the newly-hired civic engagement coordinator in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Langlois, who began his term July 1, is re-vamping the Ways of Knowing course already offered in the Faculty of Arts and Social Science and will develop a new follow-up course, Ways of Doing, over the next year.
The new course is being planned to “connect students to the community and turn the entire community into part of the campus,” Langlois says. “Having those students at the first- and second-year level really get a sense not only of the city of Windsor but also how they can become involved in civic engagement.”
Langlois says Ways of Knowing was established to introduce students to a variety of disciplines within the larger umbrella of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. The course looks at the notion of a city and all its complexities—how it was established, how it runs, and how to negotiate in it. Topics are introduced and covered through the views and outlook of a variety of guest speakers in a number of such disciplines as architecture, history and philosophy.
By the end of the semester, students are tasked with presenting a conceptually-driven project that provides a solution to a neighbourhood concern.
“It’s the first semester for most of the students and it’s a great way of getting them to understand that when you’re a University of Windsor student you’re not just a student on the island of campus,” Langlois says. “You can be deeply integrated and involved in this amazing community that we’re in.”
Ways of Doing, currently in development and intended as a follow-up course to Ways of Knowing, will allow students to both plan and execute their ideas within the community.
He says students may be more civic-minded than they realize. While some may not be interested in what they believe to be traditional volunteering, the course encourages them to think broadly and seek a variety of avenues to community service.
“Volunteering is more than handing out pamphlets,” Langlois says. “What I’m interested in is how students can work a little bit outside of the obvious structured roles. For example, one of the campaigns the United Way is doing is Food Matters—so what can happen is a student may say, ‘there is a downtown market but there’s nothing in the west end—I grew up in the county and I know that there’s some amazing food stands out there, so I’m going to try to figure out a way to organize a famers’ market on my front lawn in the west end every weekend.’ ”
He said student plans may also include something they can offer to an existing community organization, or they may choose to offer their input and services to work alongside staff at these organizations.
Langlois says university students have a unique skill set and perspective that can be invaluable to such organizations as the United Way, Pathways to Potential, the Humane Society, or the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County.
“Organizations are always looking for new ways to communicate, and social media is a really obvious one,” he says. “A student, for example, may have a great idea for guerilla advertising to raise awareness around poverty and all of a sudden they form a team in class, connect with staff at these organizations and put together a really great plan that they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
He says problem based learning will be at the heart of Ways of Doing. Projects can be as large as the volunteer work involved in establishing Atkinson Skate Park or as simple as helping a neighbour patch a section of their house.
“In the end, it’s about teaching the students crucial skills like collaboration, like planning, like creating a really tight proposal. In any future jobs these students take on, these skills will be crucial,” Langlois says.
“This skill set they are walking away with is about understanding how their city works—its values, and really being involved in a place and contributing to the community.”
Watch a video on the project: