The fall term at the Castle is now well underway and for our students, it is an exciting time to dive into campus life and get to know the people who will be a part of their professional, academic, and personal lives, not just for the duration of their time at the Castle and Queen’s, but perhaps even beyond.
The process of orientation and helping students to navigate the adjustment period at the Castle is overseen by our dedicated team of Student Services staff. Working closely with other campus partners, Student Services play a major role in shaping and enhancing the student experience for the better.
Orientation Week at the Castle builds the foundation of the Castle community and introduces the students to the support networks and processes in place to help them learn effectively, overcome adversities, celebrate successes, and grow as individuals. Students Services staff run various drop-in sessions, workshops, and seminars each year.
‘Inclusive Community’ was an interactive workshop on the first steps in building an inclusive and tolerant community on campus, while ‘Getting Involved at the BISC’ was a more specific information session so that students could learn about the opportunities to volunteer in the local community, and how they could get involved in various committees, clubs, and student governments. There was even a chance for students to break the ice while displaying their artistic flair. An instant classic, ‘Paint Night’ had more than 100 drop-ins and proved to be a very fun way for students to get to know each other while painting, sketching, and generally making a mess!
For the first time this year, our students went to the PGL Activity Centre in nearby Windmill Hill. The site is one of the U.K.’s leading outdoor education providers, delivering inspirational learning through outdoor adventures and group activities. Working in small teams, and where possible, directly with their roommates and floormates, this was a great opportunity for the students to work together to traverse high ropes, solve puzzles, and accomplish a series of brain-stretching tasks. Planning, teamwork, and communication were the keys to successfully completing the physical challenges.
“We’re doing this with the goal of building supportive friend networks that will be used throughout the year,” says Sam Kilgour, Assistant Student Enrolment & Services Manager. “We hope the activity is something students can reflect on when they need assistance, or are offering assistance through the year, creating a community of support.”
A major highlight of fall orientation was the keynote address by Greg Bavington, Queen’s Sc’85, Executive Director, Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. Greg gave a thought-provoking presentation to the students on the subject of resilience in the face of adversity. He told them not to be afraid of failure, but to instead look at every setback as an opportunity to take another path, learning from the experience and growing as a person. His words of wisdom are sure to inspire the students to do great things with their time at the Castle.
If all this talk about orientation has left you feeling nostalgic and perhaps even a tad jealous of the exciting opportunities that lie in store for our new cohort, we encourage you to visit our Facebook page. Tell us what you miss, or even better, what you are most looking forward to seeing, or doing if you plan to return for the BISC’s 25th Anniversary in June 2019. We would love to hear from you!
Since it was launched in fall 2016, there has been healthy competition for places in the Castle’s Concurrent Education Program. This trend is set to continue as the BISC is pleased to announce that from fall 2018, Con-Ed students at the Castle will take PROF 110, the theory component of the first-year Concurrent Education Program at Queen’s.
“Adding PROF 110 will be great for the students beginning their Con-Ed studies at the Castle because, for the first time, it will keep their progress synchronised with their cohort on main campus, since they will no longer need to catch this core course up in summer,” says Dr. Christian Lloyd, the BISC’s Academic Director.
It is indeed great news for our students, who will free up their summers, but also an exciting development for Con-Ed at the Castle, which will see it become a more well-rounded, complete international experience for budding student teachers. We believe that offering first year students a comparative international experience so early in their teaching careers already sets this program apart from all others currently offered in Canada, so adding PROF 110 will benefit the program further.
PROF 110 at the Castle will cover all the topics that the main campus version does, but will also take advantage of a wealth of opportunities for comparative analysis of the British educational system by the students. In only their first year of study, students spend one term making observations at a local primary school and the other in a secondary school environment. Added to this is an outstanding chance to work closely with professional educators in both public and private academic institutions, providing ample opportunity for discussion as the students critique the contrasting pedagogies they witness.
“It will give our student teachers a chance to reflect on their practicum work in progress with the help of an expert instructor, and an opportunity to start thinking about the broader theoretical, philosophical, and policy contexts in which educators operate,” Dr. Lloyd adds.
The Bader International Study Centre prides itself on offering rigorous, innovative education to students from Canada and around the world. In September of this year, the BISC is set to offer one of the most innovative programs yet.
Working in partnership with the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC), the BISC will co-host the first students in the i2TRM (International Innovation Term.) Students will combine a semester abroad in the UK, offering plenty of learning and networking opportunities, with the chance to form their own business ventures — all while earning 15 units towards their undergraduate degree.
Students will receive real-world expert support from Queen's instructors, innovators, and alumni living in Canada and the U.K. Supervising faculty include: Greg Bavington, Sc’85, Executive Director, DDQIC and Special Advisor to the Provost, Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Jim McLellan, Sc’81, PhD’90 Academic Director, DDQIC and Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Queen’s; and Christina Dinsmore, who will oversee the program and be based at the BISC for the fall. Christina is an Instructional Designer and Curriculum Developer in the Faculty of Arts and Science and brings a wealth of experience in designing and developing courses in entrepreneurship and innovation, including the new Queen’s Entrepreneurship Certificate and the Geology Department’s new Professional Masters of Earth and Energy Resources Leadership (MEERL).
The program is being run from the Castle, to leverage its proximity to both London and Brighton — two major centres of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the U.K. While living at the BISC, the students will have access to an ‘Innovation Lab’ equipped with the tools required to turn their creative ideas into reality, including workstations, woodworking, and metalworking tools, soldering equipment, 3D scanners, and printers. For the time being this is located in the Castle’s lower ground floor, but it will eventually move to the new science facility when it opens in the summer of 2019.
There will of course be guest lectures from members of the London Node of DDQIC's Global Network. Its members are Queen's alumni coming from a variety of backgrounds in engineering, law, and business. They will conduct guest lectures, listen to the students’ business pitches, and provide one-on-one feedback to teams and individuals.
Places in the program are limited, so the program is an exciting, exclusive opportunity for participants to get career-ready and learn practical and networking skills that will help them stand out from the crowd. As an added bonus, by the time students reach the final pitch competition in December, the i2TRM faculty fully expect all participants to have a viable new product and perhaps even be in a position to compete for early stage funding.
Click through the slideshow below to see the changes we have made over the summer.
For many students, the prospect of living and working on the grounds of the Herstmonceux Castle estate, nestled in the English countryside, is what truly sets the BISC apart as an experience studying abroad.
The task of managing the Castle’s beautiful but vast estate lies with new Grounds and Gardens Manager Guy Lucas and his team of gardeners and grounds staff. All told, the Castle’s estate comprises more than 600 acres of land, which includes marshland, farmland, formal gardens, amenity grassland, wild flower meadows, and both commercial and amenity woodland. It is a demanding job, as each area requires a specific and structured management program to maintain its aesthetic value and ensure the health, resilience, and biodiversity of the flora and fauna in each area.
The fine borders and manicured lawns nearest the Castle quite rightly receive plenty of attention, as they are mainly for the students’ and public’s benefit, but behind the scenes, Guy’s team works alongside conservation bodies such as Natural England and The UK Forestry Commission to improve all corners of the estate ecologically. With more than 130 acres of woodland — including some semi-ancient woodlands (recorded in maps made in the 1600s, though some trees are likely to be even older) — there is always work to be done.
Guy and his team are currently working on The Park: the last remnant of an historic deer park which once surrounded Herstmonceux Castle. In its prime, the Castle estate held upwards of 200 fallow deer and was used as a formal hunting ground by the Lord of the Manor. Today, The Park has become a dense woodland of birch and sycamore trees. However, through grant funding from Natural England, Herstmonceux Castle has a 10-year plan to restore this area back to its former parkland style. By carefully removing some of the non-native and more prolific tree species, Guy hopes to return this area to a floristically rich, diverse, and historic parkland once again. The estate already has approximately 20 roe deer moving through the woodlands from dawn until dusk and upwards of 30 fallow deer that roam the estate in large herds, taking shelter in the woodlands at night.
The Castle has also declared war on rhododendron bushes. If you wander practically anywhere in the woods, you will see many large, dark-green rhododendron bushes that were introduced to the estate in Victorian times. While it may produce pretty flowers, as a non-native and invasive species it is capable of dominating and suppressing native flora and fauna, leaving a lasting negative effect on areas that can take years to recover. The leaves, bark, roots and flowers poison the woodland ground, turning the soil so acidic nothing can grow in it but the rhododendron.
Guy says, “So, that’s basically the plan. Over the next few years you will hopefully see fewer rhododendron, and after some other strategic felling projects, and the help of Mother Nature, you will start to witness new vistas opening up, greater diversity, and an overall much healthier Castle estate. After the most recent woodland thinning, we are already seeing some fantastic signs of regeneration with elder hazel, honeysuckle, bluebell, wood anemone and foxglove making a strong appearance in the understorey this spring.”
On June 7, the BISC Board of Trustees agreed to proceed with a major capital project — the refurbishment of the old Physics Block building next to The David Smith Residence. The space, which has been empty since Queen’s acquired the Herstmonceux Estate, will be repurposed into a new teaching lab and innovation design space on the Castle campus.
The Castle has been running a Science stream since 2016 and the program has been very successful in attracting new students and diversifying the course offering. Currently, students in the Biology and Chemistry streams use the laboratory facilities at nearby Battle Abbey School. This new dedicated lab space will not only become a new home for them, but also expand the Castle’s course offerings further by supporting the work our faculty are doing in onsite archaeology and conservation research. The new lab will also afford the BISC the opportunity to offer a whole new range of Physics and material science-based courses.
Preliminary architect’s plans are in place, with the goal of having the new lab ready for students by Fall 2019. We expect to be able to offer an exclusive tour of the facility to alumni and guests attending the BISC’s 25th Anniversary celebrations at the end of June 2019, prior to its official unveiling.
Some pictures of the current space and of the new floor plan accompany this article, but you will have to visit the Castle next June to witness the transformation in person. If you have yet to register your interest in attending the BISC’s 25th Anniversary celebrations (June 29 to 30, 2019), please take a moment to let us know.