Why Experiential Learning?

Experiential learning offers community partners and employers several key opportunities. In a recent province-wide report by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, researchers found that employers and community partners planned Work-Integrated-Learning opportunities to:

  • Develop industry/profession workforce skillsTwo students working on an architectural project
  • Pre-screen potential new hires
  • Give back to the community
  • Recruit specific skills and talents
  • Manage short-term pressures and special projects
  • Increase productivity
  • Act on student interests
  • Reduce labour costs
  • Enhance company reputation
  • Act on positive feedback from other community partner and employer successes

(Sattler & Peters, 2016)

Additionally, the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences asks community members to address their activities in a way that reflects upon:

"What are people able to do and be?"

This requires us to consider a framework from which community members can consider how their life experiences meet a capabilities approach involving ten central capabilities (see below). As an institution, we need to work among and with communities to meet these capabilities if we are to build programs that maintain and lead to fulfilling opportunities for students, workers, faculty and staff.

Ten Central Capabilities

1.Life.  Being able to live to the end of a human life of normal length; not dying prematurely, or before one’s life is so reduced as to not worth living.

2.Bodily health.  Being able to have good health, including reproductive health; to be adequately nourished; to have adequate shelter.

3.Bodily integrity. Being able to move freely from place to place; to be secure against violent assault, including sexual assault and domestic violence; having opportunities for sexual satisfaction and for choice in matters of reproduction.

4.Senses, imagination, and thought. Being able to use the senses, to imagine, think and reason-and to do these things in a “truly human” way, a way informed and cultivated by an adequate education, including, but by no means limited to, literacy and basic mathematical and scientific training. Being able to use imagination and thought in connection with experiencing and producing works and events of one’s own choice, religious, literacy, musical, and so forth.  Being able to use one’s mind in ways protected by guarantees of freedom of expression with respect to both political and artistic speech, and freedom of religious exercise. Being able to have pleasurable experiences and to avoid nonbeneficial pain.

5.Emotions. Being able to have attachments to things and people outside ourselves; to love those who love and care for us, to grieve at their absence; in general, to love, to grieve, to experience longing, gratitude, and justified anger. Not having one’s emotional development blighted by fear and anxiety. (Supporting this capability means supporting forms of human association that can be shown to be crucial in their development.)

6.Practical reason. Being able to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one’s life. (This entails protection for the liberty of conscience and religious observance.)

7.Affiliation. (A) Being able to live with and toward others, to recognize and show concern for other human beings, to engage in various forms of social interaction; to be able to imagine the situation of another.  (Protecting this capability means protecting institutions that constitute and nourish such forms of affiliation, and also protecting the freedom of assembly and political speech. (B) Having the social bases of self-respect and nonhumiliation; being able to be treated as a dignified being whose worth is equal to that of others. This entails provisions of non-discrimination on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, caste, religion, national origin.

8.Other species. Being able to live with concern for and in relation to animals, plants, and the world of nature.

9.Play. Being able to laugh, to play, to enjoy recreational activities.

10.Control over one’s environment (A) Political. Being able to participate effectively in political choices that govern one’s life; having the right of political participation, protections of free speech and association. (B) Material. Being able to hold property (both land and movable goods) and having property rights on an equal basis with others; having the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others; having the freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. In work, being able to work as a human being, exercising practical reason and entering into meaningful relationships of mutual recognition with other workers.

The Central Capabilities approach is taken directly from:
Nussbaum, M. C. (2011). Creating capabilities. Harvard University Press.