The Global Citizenship Cohort
“Education serves democracy best when it prepares us for just the kinds of questions we face now: questions about a wider world, about our own values, and about difficult choices we must make both as human beings and citizens. . . . The approach to higher learning that best serves individuals, our globally engaged democracy and an innovating economy is liberal education.”
- Association of American Colleges & Universities Board of Directors, What is Liberal Education? 2002
Liberal Education courses have been a key component of the Arts and Science Global Citizenship Cohort program, which began in 2015. This is an enriched program for first-year students, in which they take a total of five courses as a group, around a common theme and interests. The Cohort experience provides students with connections across courses, a group of student peers with common interests to work with, and enhanced access to academic, social and community resources on campus. The theme of the Cohort for the first three years has been Water, Sustainability and Social Justice. For the 2018-19 year, there will be two Cohort groups, one themed around Water and Sustainability and one around Politics and Identity. Both groups of students will take Liberal Education 1000 as part of their common core of courses and has been a key component since its inaugural session. In addition, each Cohort has a year-long seminar course, also housed in the School of Liberal Education. This seminar course also includes a volunteer component, and over the past three years students have carried out a number of interesting volunteer projects in the campus and local communities. Additionally, at a deeper level the concept of uniting students from a wide variety of disciplines to learn from and with each other is an inherently liberal education ideal. In this way the cohort captures not only the pillar of civic engagement, but the remaining pillars of breadth, connections, and critical thinking as well.
Life in a global society demands citizens who have the ability to see a bigger picture. The School of Liberal Education is proud to continue to provide the Global Citizenship Cohort with the courses, connections, and skills needed for life in a globalized world.
“With a liberal education, ‘‘students can prepare for both responsible citizenship and a global economy by achieving the essential learning outcomes.’’”
- Rodger A. Scott, The meaning of liberal education
GCC Throughout the Years
The Cohort bring students together who share a variety of passions. Right off the bat, this allows students to experience breadth amongst themselves before even taking one class. For both fall and spring semesters, these students share classes and experiences together. They learn how to be active university students, get a first-hand look at all the opportunities the university offers, and make lasting friendships. Two reoccuring Liberal Education designated classes experienced by the cohort are Liberal Education 1000 and the Seminar class. In Liberal Education 1000, the students explore each major disciplinary category: Science, Social Science, Arts, and the Humanities. The Seminar class is a mixture of content, some given by coordinator of the Cohort, others by guest lecturers and community organizations. As well, the Seminar has a build-in project portion where students can take on a project which fits their interests. This can be volunteering, writing essays, or brand new initiatives. The cohort provides an excellent opportunity for students to become active citizens, as well as experience the best of the Liberal Education pillars.
Cohort Class of 2015/2016
The first year of the cohort was an experiment gone right. Students from a variety of disciplines were brought together to form lasting bonds and unforgettable experiences. It was small, with only around fifteen students, but the first cohort was tightly knit and provided a strong social network for students who were new to the university. Members of the cohort were involved in the World University Service of Canada, the 2016 Malawi Field Study, and the Bottles for Syria drive. Initiatives such as Art with Purpose were created by cohort members following the first year, and members of the first year cohort continue to be involved in a series of social justice projects around campus, with cohort students still contributing to many of the initiatives mentioned above.
Cohort Class of 2016/2017
In the second year of the Global Citizenship Cohort, the group of students doubled to 40. While it was bigger, each student found themselves around of group of people they stuck with for the year. Having a group project contributed to forming these lasting bonds. In the very first meeting of the year, a student from the cohort asked if there would be a project based portion in this Cohort since we were to be "Global Citizens". In the second semester a project portion was introduced, and is now included as a significant part of the Cohort. Highlights of the Cohort was the seminar class, where educators from the university and the Lethbridge community came and spoke to the cohort about opportunities and what was being done right in the community, as well as the project. The project portion enabled the students to actively engage our society and apply the new skills they were learning to real situations; making real contributions. Below is a list of projects that were completed.
- Volunteer work at YWCA
- Volunteer work at Soup Kitchen
- Oldman Watershed Council Southern Alberta Water Charter signing and volunteer work
- Rain Barrel project: constructing two rain barrels to donate to Campus Roots garden
- Organizing and fund-raising for a Water Bottle Refill Station for University Hall (now front of staircase C in Uhall level 6)
- Food audit (U of L cafeteria)
- Essay on Social Justice for Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
- Curated websites on water issues in Canada
- Poetry on social issues
- Essay on corporate hypocrisy in social causes
- Poster on Ktunaka Band (BC) concerns (development of sacred land)
- Letter to Alberta Climate Leadership Advisory Panel
- Essay on Spring 2017 Women’s March
- Volunteer work at Lethbridge Therapeutic Riding Association
- Volunteer work at U of L Pride Centre
- Volunteer in Polar Plunge for Special Olympics
- Essay on Identity and Social Justice
- Volunteer work at a seniors home with dementia patients
- Games night for immigrants/refugees' language practice.
The academic commitment remains the same as a student taking a full course load, with the exception that five of your ten classes for the year are chosen for you. Most of the courses taken within the Global Citizenship Cohort will fulfill spots in the Liberal Education List Requirement and some may even be the first entry course for your major; although Liberal Education 1000 needs to be paired up with Liberal Education 2000 to count on the list above. The only course that would be considered extra is the Seminar class that occurs once a week for the whole year. There is potential for class conflict with classes needed as pre-requisites for major classes, but often these can be worked out.
Upon completion of the Global Citizenship Cohort, the student will receive a certificate. However, the experience does not have to stop there as a second year portion can be pursued. More than receiving a certificate, the student will benefit by learning how to navigate the first year of university life and get accustomed to this new atmosphere and expectations. As well, meeting friends is often a huge bonus and students may even find themselves long-term, if not life-long friends. Academic and career benefits include growing in the four liberal education pillars, learning valuable skills through the organizing of a project; which may lead to future opportunities like becoming a board member of a community organization, and internal job opportunities like tutoring.