Student ideas to transform community being presented tomorrow

A group of extremely creative students will spend Wednesday afternoon speaking about turning big ideas into big improvements for their community.

Second and third-year students in the Ways of Doing: Practices of Civic Engagement class spent the semester working with local non-profit organizations and will present their plans on how to implement transformative new projects that will ultimately make Windsor-Essex a better place.

“They’re way more shovel-ready than I thought,” course instructor Justin Langlois said of the proposals to be presented. “The list is way better than I expected.”

Some of the ideas include:

  • a job-readiness certificate program that would be facilitated by Workforce Windsor-Essex and would make recent graduates more employable. Students have already created the foundation for the curriculum
  • a mentorship program for emerging community artists to partner with established artists that would be overseen by the Arts Council Windsor & Region
  • an alleyway revitalization in Ford City and placemaking project to increase livability of the neighbourhood and anchor longer-term strategic assets. This would be done in cooperation with the Ford City Neighbourhood Renewal
  • a partnership playbook to help connect students and courses to volunteer positions at the Windsor Youth Centre

Michelle LeChien, executive director of the Arts Council Windsor & Region, said she was thrilled by the artist’s mentorship project developed by Kate Redel, a concurrent education student enrolled in the course.

“The mentoring program is something that we always wanted to do, but just couldn’t figure out how to make it happen,” said LeChien, who will attend tomorrow’s presentation. “We definitely have a huge gap between successful artists and emerging artists in this community, so we’re pretty excited about it.”

Ways of Doing is actually the second part of a course also taught by Langlois called Ways of Knowing, which was funded by the university’s Strategic Priority Fund. The course gives students real-world experiences and teaches them the complex skills needed to make change in their community. Working alongside community organizations helps them understand the processes of civic engagement by providing first-hand insight on just how much planning, research, and consultation goes into launching new initiatives in the non-profit sector.

“By connecting the students to staff members at these organizations, they’ve been able to create a series of proposals that are not only really interesting, but could really be transformative for the organizations and community stakeholders,” said Langlois. “And the best part is that some students are committing to seeing these ideas all the way through to completion.”

The students will present their ideas on November 28 at 2:30 p.m. in room 1123, Neal Faculty of Education Building.