Liberal Education course piloted

The Spring 2013 term will see the University of Lethbridge offer a new course targeted at first-year students, helping them to become aware that they are part of communities that are here to benefit and support their endeavours.

LBED 2850: Mapping Self, Career, Campus, Community is a trial course that was developed by the Academic Success - Achievement and Learning Resources subject matter team, a subcommittee of the Recruitment and Retention Planning (RRP) Committee.

Mapping is at the heart of this course. Exposure to this topic from a variety of perspectives will encourage students to better understand themselves, the University and what the surrounding community of Lethbridge has to offer them. Course presenters are a who's who of past and present renowned instructors and service providers, including Dr. Leah Fowler, Dr. Leroy Little Bear, Dr. Mary Runte, Pat Tanaka and Dr. Shelly Wismath to name a few.

The course will delve into a variety of topics, from campus ghost stories to the Blackfoot territory, mapping yourself, mapping your career and service learning. It is also designed to get students out of the classroom by exploring and mapping the campus and discovering just what it has to offer. This experiential approach is aimed at building a cohort of students and encouraging campus and community citizenship. Students will then return to the classroom to map their experiences, making use of a variety of approaches, digital and otherwise, to illustrate what they have learned.

The course is designed to help students with the transition to university life by providing active learning about community resources, including those that will support their success through to graduation. Students will visualize relationships they have and then use mapping as a context to share those relationships with others. Everything in the course is geared to help students develop both academically and personally.

In the end, the goal is to have students realize that they don't need to leave campus on weekends and head to Calgary or go back home to have positive experiences. Instead, they can be fully engaged here at the University.
Dr. Jan Newberry, 2011 Board of Governors' Teaching Chair will lead the course and is excited about the opportunities it presents.

"The organizing idea for this course is community mapping, which is based on principles of learning about the communities you live in through mapping (in the broadest sense of that word) what they offer," says Newberry. "The mapping metaphor extends from how a student maps out an essay or the coulee, to mapping research clusters and the resources available to support student success. This course takes a liberal education approach that emphasizes multiple perspectives, and it is designed to highlight some of our most dynamic teachers as a way to introduce students to the Faculties and disciplines at the University of Lethbridge."

Upon the term's completion, the course will be evaluated to see how it benefited its first class, and subsequently how to move forward to bring this type of learning to a broader segment of first-year students.

These endeavours highlight the University's dedication to providing an enhanced student experience within a framework of liberal education and interdisciplinary inquiry.

This story first appeared in the October 2012 issue of the Legend. To see the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.