Written by: Shaina McDonald
Social Psychology Level IV
As some of you may have heard, McMaster University will soon be home to the new Social Sciences and Humanities building, L.R. Wilson Hall (otherwise known as all the construction by MDCL). L.R. Wilson Hall will house some really cool facilities for liberal arts students such as: a turtle-shaped Indigenous Studies Program space (how awesome is that?), a 150-seat Black Box Theatre and a 350-seat Concert Hall. Among these exciting amenities will be anew Experiential Education (EE) office, to be located in the Pathways Institute of L.R. Wilson Hall.
This summer, I have had the opportunity to work as a ResearchAssistant for purposes of how to effectively engage students, faculty and the community through the still-to-be-determined interior design of a new EE office space. I have researched around thirty Canadian and American post-secondary institutes in hopes of either arranging a visit for our EE Director, Dr. Sandra Preston, or at least finding new ideas for our EE ladies to build on.
Through this experience, I have discovered various learning opportunities that American colleges provide. The University of Michigan has a Digital Media Commons with multiple design labs to serve as “learning environments that support initiatives to bridge disciplines, build networks and discover new contexts for scholarship”. These spaces include equipment such as technologies for animators and videographers, and sketchpads and modeling software for product designers. Comparatively, the Leadership & Experiential Learning office of New Jersey’s Rutgers University has over fifteen unique services to offer their students. A few of my favourites include a First-year Fellowship geared towards engaging first years through a string of events and workshops, followed by a Seeking Success Leadership Series available to use as both leadership development and a peer-mentoring program for the First-year Fellowship, and a Mark Conference aimed to enthuse students on legacy and personal branding.
As incredible as these programs may sound, researching these far-away universitiesonly reminded me of how fortunate I have been to get involved with EE and their programs. Last year I took a chance applying to become one of their volunteer ambassadors, and it has made a pretty substantial mark on my final years at McMaster. My journey with EE began with curiosity about their SOCSCI 1EL0 course, through an exceedingly informative SOCSCI 2EL0 course with Cindy (which I recommend to every single Social Sciences student), a Hamilton Matters Fund initiative of Tedx Hamilton (please look up Tedx Talks if you’ve never heard of them – they’re even on Netflix), and now by learning the intentions and benefits of each service they offer (take advantage of these opportunities)!