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Queen's hosts international guidance counsellors

(Photo by Kurgat Elias, Nu-vision High School, Rwanda)

A group of 16 international high school guidance counsellors recently visited Queen’s as part of the university’s international recruitment activities. Participants came from around the world, including Asia, South America, Africa and the Caribbean.

The group was greeted by Principal Daniel Woolf, given a tour of the Queen’s campus, and introduced to the exceptional student learning experience that Queen’s is able to offer students from their international schools.

Queen's in the World

A group of international high school principals also recently visited campus for a similar recruitment initiative.

Queen’s is currently increasing its international recruitment efforts, with a goal of doubling the proportion of international undergraduate students to 10 per cent.

Thinking locally, acting globally

Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) at Herstmonceux Castle, England, was recently in Kingston. Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer, caught up with him to talk about the student experience at the castle.

Craig Leroux: What brings you to Kingston?

Christian Lloyd: I’m here for the special edition of the Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) that we do for incoming first-year castle students and their parents. Going to university is an adventure, and going to university 3,000 miles away in England for your first year is a really big adventure. SOAR is an opportunity to learn more about what to expect, both academically and socially, and about all the resources available at the castle and Queen’s.

Dr. Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the Bader International Study Centre

What can students expect from the new first-year program?

We’ve just overhauled our first-year program to help build key skills and prepare students for the rest of their degree and their careers. The centrepiece of the new program is a core course around the theme of “thinking locally, acting globally.” It draws on content from fields like history, drama, sociology, geography and gender studies. In addition to disciplinary knowledge, it is designed to build skills like writing and working effectively in groups, and to introduce students to doing primary research.

Is experiential learning still a big part of the program?

Absolutely. New this year, during the “thinking locally” session, students will explore Brighton, the nearest city to the castle, and create a digital map to explore the themes of identities and boundaries. They will talk to people, observe the local cultures and take sound recordings, photographs, notes, sketches, or whatever they want to contribute. They will then produce an online map with clickable links to their material.

Travel is another important form of experiential learning, and we’ll take students to a number of places in Europe. It’s about building cultural competencies, which is extremely important. Either in person or virtually you are going to be working with people from around the world with quite different backgrounds and assumptions from you.

How do you ensure that travel becomes a learning experience?

Some people think that just by going abroad, wandering around the usual tourist sites, you understand something about another culture. It’s actually in many ways the opposite. You can end up reinforcing your own prejudices about that culture. When our students travel, to Brighton or Paris for example, we always challenge them to talk and engage with people and local cultures.

Some people think that just by going abroad, wandering around the usual tourist sites, you understand something about another culture. It’s actually in many ways the opposite. You can end up reinforcing your own prejudices about that culture.

- Dr. Christian Lloyd, Academic Director at the BISC

We’ll take students to the Eiffel Tower, but we’ll pay attention to what’s going on under the tower. We’ll look at why there are a bunch of guys from North Africa selling trinkets there. Who are these people, and why are they there? What are the interactions between the tourists and ordinary Parisians? We want people to have their eyes open and be active. We want them to think in detail about what they are seeing. They may not understand everything at first, but they can bring back questions instead of conclusions about what they’ve experienced.

Are there other academic changes coming to the castle?

In the past we’ve had many potential science students who want to come to the castle and that was quite difficult because we didn’t offer science courses. And they would have to catch up over the summer or do online courses. So what we have decided to do next fall is to offer a science stream at the castle. Because we don’t have labs at the castle, we’ve partnered with Battle Abbey School, a local private school that has excellent lab facilities. That will allow science students to more easily pick up their studies when they return to Queen’s for the rest of their degree.

Queen's in the World

The Bader International Study Centre is a centrepiece of Queen’s international presence. It offers small class sizes, integrated hands-on experiential learning opportunities, primary research-based projects, and a diverse faculty and student population focused on innovative global learning.

Queen's extends training agreement with Chinese ministry

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

Queen’s and the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) renewed their two-decade-long relationship this week with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Under the agreement, Queen’s will continue to provide training to Chinese officials and the MLR and its affiliates will continue to offer an internship program for Queen’s students.

“We are very grateful for this collaboration in land and resource management and we look forward to this fruitful partnership continuing for many more years,” says Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic). “This collaboration has provided the opportunity for the MLR and Queen’s to share best practices, policies and processes.”

Queen's in the World

Each year Queen’s organizes a three-week training session for up to 50 MLR officials and mining professionals, aimed at exposing them to land and resource management practices in Canada. The program is jointly offered by the Department of Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering and the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining. Several Ontario and Canadian government ministries also present to the participants.

“I believe that our partnership will bring about a better future for both countries,” says Zhang Zhi, Director General, Department of Personnel in the MLR. “We really appreciate the support and work…provided by Queen’s University over the years.”

China provides a very good laboratory for our students to see how what they learn here can be applied in another culture.

- Professor Emeritus Hok-Lin Leung

The partnership began in 1995 as an initiative of Hok-Lin Leung, professor emeritus and former director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning, and was formally established through the signing of the first MOU in 1999. The MOU allows two Queen’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning students to work within the MLR in China each year. The agreement also covers a three to six month internship program for a small group of MLR officials to gain experience within a relevant public or private organization in Canada.

“China provides a very good laboratory for our students to see how what they learn here can be applied in another culture,” says Professor Leung. “Invariably when they come back they all have changed their perception about what China really is.”

Queen’s has a number of active partnerships and recruitment activities in China, including the recently established Master of Finance program with Renmin University and a semester abroad program with Fudan University.

Queen's ranks among world's best universities

By Craig Leroux, Senior Communications Officer

Queen’s University placed 277th in the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) 2014 rankings of the top 1,000 universities around the globe. This places Queen’s in the top 1.3 per cent of the world’s 22,000 degree granting institutions.

“Queen’s is consistently counted among the world’s top universities and well respected in Canada for the exceptional student learning experience it delivers within a research-intensive environment,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance & Administration) and Acting Principal. “Expanding the university’s international reach is a strategic priority for the university and we continue to work to raise our profile abroad and to expand our international recruitment and research activities.”

CWUR’s rankings are based on a number of factors, including the number of faculty and alumni who have won prestigious international awards, and the number of alumni who hold CEO positions at the world’s top 2000 companies. It also uses citations and other indicators of research activity and impact. It does not use reputational surveys or data submissions from universities in its methodology.

Queen’s is consistently counted among the world’s top universities and well respected in Canada for the exceptional student learning experience it delivers within a research-intensive environment.

- Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance & Administration) and Acting Principal

“Queen’s strives to be among the best of its peer institutions, and it is important to remember that no individual ranking captures all of Queen’s strengths,” says Katherine O’Brien, Associate Vice-Principal, International. “The quality of the student learning experience is a key driver of our success and we know through measures like the National Survey of Student Engagement and the International Student Barometer that domestic and international students value their Queen’s experience very highly.”

CWUR began producing its world university rankings in 2012. The complete 2014 rankings are available on its website.

New program softens landing for international students

[Queen's in the World]Queen's in the World

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

As the university seeks to increase the number of international students, units across campus are working together to help ease their transition to Queen’s and Canada.

One new addition is the Acculturation and Transition to Life and Academic Success (ATLAS) program, which is initiated by the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) in collaboration with several on-campus student services.

Susan Anderson, Assistant Director, QUIC, says ATLAS emerged from a desire to ensure international degree-seeking undergraduate students feel welcome at Queen’s as soon as they set foot on campus.

“We know that international students have the potential to enrich this university. The aim of ATLAS is to give international students that soft landing at Queen’s so they can more easily fall in with the rest of the first-year students and be part of it all,” she says.

[Inside QUIC]The new Acculturation and Transition to Life and Academic Success (ATLAS) program will welcome incoming international students to Queen's and make them aware of the resources available on campus.

On Aug. 30, ATLAS registrants can settle in to residence a day before official move-in for the majority of students and attend an optional reception where they can connect with other international students. The following day, the group will participate in a variety of activities related to cultural transitions, health and wellness, and academic resources such as the library and Student Academic Success Services.

Rather than throwing a lot of information at new international students, ATLAS offers participants experiential learning opportunities to help them adjust to Queen’s. They will participate in a variety of activities and explore the library in a small group setting.

“Through the ATLAS experience, international students will get to know the resources that are here for them,” Ms. Anderson says. “At the same time, the content of the program will suggest to them the important elements they will have to balance in order to have a healthy and successful experience at Queen’s.”

The deadline to apply for ATLAS has been extended to July 18. Visit the QUIC website for more details about the program.

Language program bridges gap

By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer

When new students need to shore up their English speaking and writing abilities, QBridge is there to help. Running each summer since 2010, QBridge is an intensive eight week language immersion program run by the Queen’s School of English.

In small classes, in which they have all pledged to speak only English, students listen to lectures, write essays, make presentations and take part in debates. By the program’s end, students are meant to be proficient enough in their academic and language skills to be able to succeed in their first year of university.

QBridge is a language immersion program run through the Queen's School of English. (University Communications)

While the program largely recruits from China through the China Liaison Office, the Office of Undergraduate Admission will sometimes refer students to the program as well.

“We sometimes see applicants who are excellent candidates for Queen’s but need a little more work on their language skills. QBridge exists to help them prepare for their time at university,” says Janice McAlpine, Acting Director, Queen’s School of English. “We’ve had participants from China, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Japan and Panama, and we’ve found it makes for a better class dynamic when students speak different languages. There’s less temptation to speak one’s first language. When students stretch their abilities to communicate with one another, they really improve.”

Besides getting students ready for study, QBridge is also an important part of the university’s drive to internationalize.

“We can become a more international campus by accepting native English speakers from the U.S., the United Kingdom, and other English speaking countries, but to break outside of one tradition we need to attract students who are both bilingual and bicultural. They bring a different mindset and experiences that enrich the university for all of us,” Ms. McAlpine says.

QBridge can be a big help to students who need it. “When I applied to Queen’s I realized my level of English wasn’t good enough, and QBridge equipped me to succeed,” says Othmane Rtel Bennani (Sci’17), who came to study at Queen’s from Morocco. “The professors were amazing: they taught me all sorts of skills and made me improve greatly in short amount of time. I really wanted to come study at Queen’s and without the program, I would have missed out on coming to a great place. ”

You can hear more from QBridge participants on the Queen’s School of English blog.

A helping hand for Haiti

Tammy Babcock Aristilde is srrounded by children during a previous mission to Cite Soleil in Haiti.

This article is printed in the July edition of the Gazette, which is now available. You can get your copy at newsstands around campus.

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

It has been seven years since Tammy Babcock Aristilde first traveled to Haiti, hoping to improve the plight of the residents of Cite Soleil.

While change in the country may not be evident on the surface, the efforts of Helping Haiti, the charitable organization the security supervisor at Queen’s leads, has resulted in some definite signs of progress. Lives have been saved.

Leading a small group that arrived July 8 in the impoverished district in the capital Port-au-Prince, Ms. Babcock Aristilde says that one of the key elements to the effort has been bringing together rival gang members and teaching them first-aid.

The young men have been learning how to treat gunshot and stab wounds and have used the new skills to the benefit of their communities. One of the students has even saved the lives of two other members.

However, more important is that the rival gang members have formed bonds as they work through the First-Aid for Peace course.

“What's encouraging is that in one group of 10 we had two (gang) leaders. They were enemies when they started the course, but were able to find friendship in the time they spent together learning the life-saving skills of the FAFP program,” Ms. Babcock Aristilde says.

A small step, perhaps, but a step toward peace nonetheless.

The program also improved the participants’ reputations within their communities. No longer are they mere gang members, to be viewed only as a threat. These men are becoming role models for the younger generations.

“Many members of the team have used these skills to have a life. Having this knowledge puts them at a whole different level capacity and influence in the community,” Ms. Babcock Aristilde says.

“By working with these young men we are hoping to provide programming which will not only benefit them, but support the young men to inspire the young community to work together.”

The program currently includes 14 members and one has been trained to become an instructor within the community. The plan is to train instructors in neighbouring areas, expanding the program’s reach.

Ms. Babcock Aristilde and her group travel to Haiti twice a year – each January and July. This time she will be instructing young women rape self-defense, something she taught at Queen’s for nearly 10 years, while fellow director Aaron Sousa will teach their children on first-aid and hygiene.

Also making the trip is Queen’s student Amanda Oeggerli (Artsci’15), who will be assisting with the self-defense and first-aid programs as well as keeping track of records as Helping Haiti distributes water and helps sufferers of chikungunya, a debilitating mosquito-borne virus that results in fever and severe arthritic pain that is currently running rampant through Cite Soleil.

“They explain it like it feels like your bones are breaking and that pain lasts for a week and a half to two weeks,” Ms. Babcock Aristilde says. “Some people will continue to have that pain up to two years depending on how your system reacts to it.”

There will also be a focus on electrical safety as Cite Soleil residents often jury-rig their own connections to electricity sources, sometimes with dire consequences. There are burns, homes lost and even deaths from electrocution.

The instructor will be shown a site and while he can’t really change what they do he can provide safety knowledge as well as some equipment that could save lives. There will also be some first-aid instruction in treating burns.

The organization also has a branch at the university and Queen’s Helping Haiti, which was recently formed, has already helped support three young people with their small businesses.

Researcher lands on exclusive list

Communications Staff

Queen’s University researcher Ian Janssen (School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Department of Public Health Sciences) has earned a place on Thomson Reuters’ Highly Cited Researchers list. He is the only Queen’s professor to make the list and one of only 88 researchers working in Canada on the 3,215 member list.

The international list includes scientists and researchers whose work is most often cited in other research papers.

Queen's University professor Ian Janssen.

“This is a reflection of the volume and quality of work I have done in my field,” says Dr. Janssen, the Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Obesity. “It shows that the research I have published has had a significant impact on other researchers. It is very gratifying to have made the list.”

Dr. Janssen and other researchers on the list earned the distinction by writing the greatest number of “highly cited papers” as determined by Essential Science Indictors. Those papers rank among the top 1 per cent most cited in their subject field from 2002 to 2012. Dr. Janssen, who completed his master’s and doctorate degrees at Queen’s, has published close to 200 research papers since 1999. He was among 177 people nominated in the general social sciences category.

“Although my name appears on the Highly Cited Researchers list, this honour is primarily a reflection of the many talented and hard-working people I have worked with.  I want to recognize the tremendous contributions made by the 30+ graduate students I have supervised and the dozens of researcher colleagues I have collaborated with.”

The original Highly Cited Researchers list issued in 2001 identified more than 7,000 researchers and the list was updated again in 2004. The latest version features only 3,000 researchers whose work was deemed to be influential internationally.

SNOLAB director reappointed to second term

By Andrew Carroll, Gazette editor

Nigel Smith (Physics) has been reappointed to a second term as the director of SNOLAB, the deep underground science laboratory specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics.

The SNOLAB facility is an expansion of the successful Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment.

The facility is operated by the SNOLAB Institute whose member institutions are Queen’s University, Carleton University, Laurentian University, University of Alberta and Université de Montréal. It is located two km below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ont.

Nigel Smith (Physics) has been reappointed as director of SNOLAB for a second term.

 First appointed in 2009, Dr. Smith says that the second term will allow him to see some results from the major projects currently underway.

“The detectors that we are building take many years to design, construct and operate so a five-year term is enough to get things moving but not really enough to deliver the science from these large-scale experiments,” says Dr. Smith. “What I am looking forward to in the second term is having these projects, which we are now constructing, take data and complete the analysis to get the science out."

“It’s the science that drives everybody here. It’s the rationale for operating this facility,” he adds.

According to Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research), Dr. Smith has definitely earned his reappointment.

“SNOLAB is internationally-renowned for its research and discoveries, and directing such a sophisticated and complex research site takes a great level of expertise,” he says. “Nigel has done an outstanding job in his role as director of SNOLAB, and I look forward to seeing its accomplishments continue in Nigel’s second term.”

Under his leadership, SNOLAB has seen an increase in partnerships with other innovation centres across the country while also expanding the areas of study.

“We actually have quite a broad program of science here so the large-scale experiments that we’re building at the moment are augmented by smaller-scale projects, some of which have a sufficiently short life-cycle that we have seen results over the last five years,” says Dr. Smith.

During the next term his aim is to make SNOLAB the “partner of choice” for underground physics projects, providing world-class infrastructure and delivering world-leading science.

NSERC funding supports grad student exchange

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

An international research program that includes three Queen’s professors recently received $1.65 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) grants program.

Nikolaus Troje (Psychology), Doug Munoz and Gunnar Blohm (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) are members of The Brain in Action research group headed by Doug Crawford from York University. The funding will support trans-Atlantic supervision and exchanges of graduate students and research fellows as well as non-academic collaborations and internships.

Niko Troje is part of an international research team working with graduate students.

“The principal investigators are mentors for the graduate students in the program,” explains Dr. Troje. “All of the funding goes to the graduate students to provide them with unique research opportunities working with some of the top experts in the world.”

The Brain in Action program allows graduate students to study the connection between perception and action and to apply these findings to real world settings. For example, some students are studying how eye movement and vision work while walking outdoors.

Internships will allow students to apply their knowledge of vision and eye-hand co-ordination in areas including advertising and smart phone design.

The Brain in Action team includes 11 researchers at Queen’s, York and Western University and 11 primary investigators from Justus-Liebig-Universitat Giessen and Philipps-Universitat Marburg in Germany.


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