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Mitchell Hall to mark opening with official celebration

Queen’s community to gather for unveiling of new centre of innovation and wellness.

Exterior view of Mitchell Hall at dusk.
Queen's University is set to celebrate the opening of Mitchell Hall - the campus's new centre for innovation and wellness. (University Communications)

With only days until its grand opening ceremony, Queen’s University’s new hub of innovation and student wellness is already bustling with activity. Over the last few months, spaces inside Mitchell Hall have been welcoming students, faculty, and staff, and have quickly become central to daily campus life.

Home to expanded engineering and research facilities, collaborative and experiential learning spaces, and a wide spectrum of student services, Mitchell Hall was designed to build community and foster the important relationships that connect mental health, physical well-being, academic, and personal success.

“It has been truly exciting to witness Mitchell Hall take shape over the past few years,” says Tom Harris, Interim Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), “but the greatest pleasure yet has been seeing its spaces come alive as our community begins to explore and utilize the building’s full potential.”

On Saturday, March 30, members of the Queen's and Kingston communities will gather in Mitchell Hall’s grand, sunlit central atrium, alongside donors and government officials for the facility’s official ribbon-cutting event at 11 am. Representatives of the university and the students, provincial and local governments will make remarks at the ceremony, as will Bruce Mitchell (Sc’68) – the lead patron who will speak on behalf of all donors to the project.

“On behalf of Queen’s I want to express the utmost gratitude to the donors whose support made Mitchell Hall possible,” says Dr. Harris. “We look forward to celebrating their contributions with them and their families, and showcasing to our guests and visitors all of the elements the facility has to offer.”

The building, located on the former site of the Physical Education Centre at the corner of Union and Division streets, was made possible by $50 million in philanthropic support and a combined $21.8 million from the Government of Canada’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund and from the Government of Ontario.

Behind its original limestone façade, Mitchell Hall’s new facilities house a wide variety of centres and services in bright, contemporary spaces – many of which took up occupancy and opened for use during a phased launch that began in November 2018. Among the first student services to invite guests in were the Gregory David and Neil Rossy Health Promotion Hub, Faith and Spiritual Life, and Student Community Relations, all of which opened in December 2018. Three gymnasiums also opened, as did new examination facilities, which hosted the writing of nearly 65,000 fall term exams. Doors also opened to Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science technology-enabled active learning classrooms.

December also brought the opening of the Queen’s University International Centre, which moved to Mitchell Hall after 50 years of operation in the John Deutsch University Centre. Queen’s is currently home to approximately 3,500 international students who, together with the entire campus community, can now make use of the space to meet, work, relax, and seek out academic opportunities and support.

The Rose Innovation Hub made its January debut at the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre’s (DDQIC) “Ignition Week” – a five-day exploration of all things entrepreneurship and innovation for students. Showcased during the celebration were the DDQIC’s offices, a large, modern event commons, a suite of co-working spaces for early-stage innovators, the LinQLab workshop space with modern multimedia capabilities, and the SparQ Studios makerspace – equipped with 3D scanners, 3D printers, laser cutting, wood and metal working, and more. The High Performance Varsity Training Centre and new athletic space also opened for student-athletes in January 2019.

Following the grand opening ceremony, guests will tour these spaces, as well as the newly debuted Beaty Water Research Centre, and spaces opening later this year, including the Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre and Ingenuity Labs – a new institute focused on the design and use of intelligent systems and robotic machines to enhance human productivity, creativity, safety, and quality of life.

A livestream will be available online and on Facebook Live starting at 10:55 am EST on March 30, 2019.

Supporting the academic success of international and English as additional language students

[Intercultural Academic Support Coordinator Agnieszka Herra leads a workshop on English academic writing.]
[ntercultural Academic Support Coordinator Agnieszka Herra leads a workshop on English academic writing. (Supplied Photo)

Over the past academic year, new programs and initiatives at Queen’s have enhanced supports for and connections among international students, as well as students for whom English is an additional language (EAL).

This follows the establishment of a new position in the Division of Student Affairs, shared between Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) and Student Academic Success Services (SASS): Intercultural Academic Support Coordinator. Agnieszka Herra, who started in the role in August, is a Queen’s alumna who welcomes the opportunity to work on enhancing  the international student experience on campus.

“This position focuses on collaborations between QUIC and SASS services, so that we can provide more comprehensive supports to international and EAL students,” says Corinna Fitzgerald, Assistant Dean, Student Life and Learning. “We are delighted to have Agnieszka join our team to help make Queen’s a more accessible and inclusive learning environment."

One of the new programs is the English Academic Writing Support Clinic, a weekly writing session held in QUIC’s new location at Mitchell Hall. Developed in collaboration with Alyssa Foerstner, SASS Academic Skills Support Coordinator for the EAL program, the clinic delivers an interactive lesson where students can engage more deeply in a specific area of writing, practice effective editing techniques, and ask questions. Running the clinic in the new QUIC space provides support in a familiar environment where many international students feel comfortable and already are connecting socially with peers. The clinic also introduces students to the writing and other academic skills programming offered at SASS for English as additional language learners, encouraging them to access those supports.

“The English Academic Writing Support Clinic was developed based on student feedback,” Herra says. “Many students return every week to the program, showing its effectiveness and the positive impact it has on EAL student success.”

In addition, Herra has been piloting programs focused on academic topics, including academic communication, and a collaboration with Queen’s University Library on how to use library resources effectively. She is also working with faculties and schools to develop targeted, faculty-based supports.

While Herra’s main role is to facilitate new programming, and make campus resources more accessible, she also works to promote intercultural awareness by collaborating with the Centre for Teaching and Learning to discuss how to best support EAL and international students academically, and by developing new cross-campus resources.

“An important part of the role is offering direct support to students, but the bigger picture is to help continue to shift the mindset on campus so that all students are being valued for the perspectives and skills they bring to Queen’s,” she says. “We want to ensure that people across campus recognize that the approaches we take in interacting with a diverse student body will have a direct impact on student academic success.”

Next up for Herra is the development of a suite of workshops on the academic transition to Queen’s, and to incorporate more information about this topic into orientation activities at QUIC, online and on campus.

To learn more about services and upcoming events, visit the QUIC and SASS websites.

Supporting the environment

[City council declare's climate emergency]
Following Kingston city council's declaration of a climate emergency Queen's students Teeghan Niblett-Wilson, Grace Leyden, Mia Berloni, Councillor Robert Kiley, Julia Weder, Sabrina Weber, and Professor Diane Orihel take a moment with Trillium District Councillor Robert Kiley, who forwarded the motion. (Supplied Photo)

Kingston recently became the first municipality in Ontario to declare a climate emergency and a group of Queen’s students helped provide some last-minute momentum for the landmark motion.

During its March 6 meeting, city council voted unanimously in support of the motion that was put forward by Trillium District Councillor and Queen’s alumnus Robert Kiley (Ed’12, MPA’13)

At the meeting a delegation comprised of five students from Diane Orihel’s (Biology, Environmental Studies) fourth-year course ENSC 480 (Communication in Environmental Science) made a presentation  in support of the motion, speaking to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental, and social.

At the end of their presentation the group was asked a question: Why should the individual councillors and the City of Kingston care about their impact when there are other cities contributing so much more to the environmental problem?

For Sabrina Weber (Artsci’19), highlighted the biggest barrier to addressing environmental issues.

“This is the exact mentality that we need to combat in our current society. The belief that individual action is insufficient and will be insignificant is arguably the largest contributor to environmental concerns. If everyone passes off the blame and does not take responsibility for environmental issues at hand, then there is no accountability, and improvements will not be made,” she says. “The City of Kingston made a brave decision, to admit our wrongs, and make movements to become more accountable for our actions. To make policy decisions through a climate change frame of mind, and to make climate change mitigation an urgent priority.”

Shortly after the Queen’s group’s presentation, a vote was held. It was unanimous – all 13 members of city council voted to declare a climate emergency.

For Dr. Orihel it was an important moment not only because Kingston set a precedent for other Ontario municipalities to follow regarding climate issues but also because the students provided valuable information that led to the unanimous vote.

“These five young women did a phenomenal job delivering a powerful delegation to city council: they were courageous, passionate, articulate, and professional. The councillors asked them thoughtful questions and referred to their delegation several times during their discussion of the motion prior to the vote,” Dr. Orihel says. “A number of the city councillors remarked to me that if it had not been for the student’s delegation, the vote would not have been unanimous.”

The focus of the ENSC 480 course is to teach undergraduate students to communicate environmental science to non-expert audiences, such as media, policy makers, and the public. A few weeks before the city council meeting Dr. Orihel invited Kiley to be guest speaker. At that time he informed the class he would be presenting a motion to council to declare a climate emergency. Not surprisingly, there was great interest in seeing the motion get passed and Kiley suggested that the group make a presentation to city council.

Overall, it has been a valuable learning experience for all involved says Mia Berloni (Artsci’19). While five students were in the presenting group, all 18 students in the class were involved in brainstorming and conducting research.

“The reaction to the delegation’s involvement and presentation has been extremely positive. Dr. Orihel has been instrumental in facilitating this positive experience,” Berloni says. “Through encouraging and facilitating class participation in this amazing experiential learning opportunity she has allowed us all to grow not only as communicators but as advocates. I did not expect that our delegation would help result in a unanimous vote in favor of a climate emergency. This experience has helped show me that advocacy and effective communication can have an impact on decision makers.”

When world-class education meets world-class arts

  • Film editing room
    Students from the Department of Film and Media work in the state-of-the-art sound studio at the Isabel.
  • Students learn about film theory and criticism in one of our three new classrooms at the Isabel
    Among the learning spaces offered at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts are three bright, modern classrooms.
  • Student Lounge
    Queen's students, staff, and faculty can relax in the Henry Preston Courtney and Lillian Courtney Lounge overlooking Lake Ontario. (Photo by Suzy Lamont)
  • Film class in session in our 90-seat Gordon Vogt Film Screening Room at the Isabel Bader Centre
    A film class is held in the 90-seat Gordon Vogt Film Screening Room at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, one of the many modern learning spaces.
  • Theatre performance
    The Power Corporation of Canada Studio Theatre is a 100-seat black box studio theatre designed to provide the theatrical equivalent of a blank slate.
  • Performance Hall
    With a 566-seat capacity and world-class acoustics, the Performance Hall of the Isabel offers Queen's students and artists from around the world a performance experience like no other.

From the moment planning began on the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, it was envisioned the facility would play a leading role in transforming Queen’s University.

A world-class performing arts centre and learning facility, built thanks to a donation from Alfred and Isabel Bader, the overall focus on excellence was aimed at drawing acclaimed artists from around the world, provide Queen’s students with a transformational learning experience, while at the same time fostering innovation and acting as an incubator for new work and thought. 

“Dr. Alfred Bader was a visionary man who transformed the tragic adversity of his young life into a tremendous vitality for life and a celebration for the highest potential of humankind,” says Tricia Baldwin, Director of the Isabel. He set his vision and standards high.”

Opened in September 2014, the Isabel was designed by award-winning architecture firms Snøhetta and N45 Architecture Inc., in collaboration with acoustic and audiovisual consultants ARUP and theatre design consultants Theatre Projects Consultants. The result is a performing arts centre with no peer at a Canadian university. The Isabel is home to the Department of Film and Media and the Dan School of Drama and Music.

Now in its fifth season, Baldwin says the centre is meeting, and even exceeding, this original vision. Queen’s is a better educational institution now, she says, providing students with unique learning opportunities, whether in the concert hall, the theatre, or the classroom. 

In addition to attracting internationally-acclaimed and top emerging artists, the Isabel has branched into socially-engaged art in a powerful fusion of the arts and social justice with its Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival and the Ka’tarohkwi Festival of the Arts. 

“We imagine a university where socially-engaged art is an experiential approach to human rights, which helps future citizens transform political realities. We see artists as the cultural agents of change who bring issues of the minority into the field of vision of the majority – in a way that resonates,” Baldwin says. “The role of the arts is especially important right now in interpreting the contemporary ‘politics of identity’ that are fueling both the right and left sides of the political spectrum worldwide.

“What is the new dimension that has come in to the university experience as a result of having a world-class performing arts centre as part of the lifeblood of this institution?” she asks. “It actually expanded the architecture in our own minds and because it’s multi-disciplinary, it has started to create some really interesting collaborations that would have been different if we had just a film centre, a music centre, and a drama centre.”

And that, she believes, is the genius behind emphasizing excellence in the centre itself, as well as combining disciplines. The result has been creativity and innovation.

From the start, it was clear that The Isabel is a fantastic performing arts centre, with the concert hall in particular acting as a beacon for world-class acts as word of the stellar acoustics and performance experience spread.

As a result, the Queen’s and Kingston communities have been able to take advantage of these concerts, competitions, and festivals to see performers that otherwise may not have come to Kingston. The true beneficiaries, Baldwin points out, have been students of the performing arts who have been able to meet a wide range of artists and experience the same world-class facilities on a daily basis. 

“A great hall, like a great instrument, enables you to be the best that you can be,” she says, pointing to the excellence of the Isabel, from the architecture to the programming to the artist and audience experience. “That is very influential in life. In order for Canada to thrive we actually have to have a group of graduates who are shooting for the stars and not saying ‘good enough.’”

At the same time there has been a particular focus on bringing in emerging artists, both from across Canada and around the world. One example is Jeremy Dutcher, performer, composer, and member of the Tobique First Nation, who was awarded the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa. Previously Dutcher, who sang in Professor Dylan Robinson’s Songs of Sovereignty program at the 2017 Isabel Human Rights Arts Festival, grabbed the attention of those at The Isabel including Baldwin. Taken by the acoustic quality of performing arts centre, Dutcher returned to record his Polaris Prize winning album at The Isabel

Dutcher returns to The Isabel to perform in the inaugural Ka’tarohkwi Festival of Indigenous Arts curated by Dylan Robinson and being held throughout March, an event that builds on the social engagement first sparked through the human rights festival.

The influence on students, and others in the Queen’s and Kingston communities, is already clear.

“There is nothing like when, as a student, you witness a world-class artist. We’ve really focused on attracting emerging artists, these young artists that are coming through are so fantastic, who have just gone for it and worked really hard,” Baldwin says. “That actually influences how you see the world because you are exposed to someone of your own generation, who has that laser-beam focus and has gone for it. I think that is a really great influence and also to have that international view rather than a parochial view to say these are the best artists in the world of different genres and different cultures.”

Away from the stage, The Isabel is also a world-class education facility. A hub of interdisciplinary exchange, The Isabel offers students and faculty members state-of-the-art facilities including an art and media lab, rehearsal hall, studio theatre, a 92-seat screening room, and film editing suites along with modern classrooms, a film and media resource library, and a student lounge overlooking Lake Ontario. 

Where to from here? 

“The next mountain to climb for the Isabel is to get immersed in the virtual reality and augmented reality world as it is integrated with live performance,” Baldwin says. “This will be an important door of entry into the arts for the next generations of artists and audiences to imaginatively engage in the arts.” 

Since its opening, The Isabel has grown and evolved along with the students and artists who walk it halls. These accomplishments could not have happened without the generosity of Alfred and Isabel Bader.

While Dr. Bader passed away on Dec. 23, at the age of 94, his legacy will live on through the continuing artistic and education excellence at The Isabel Bader Performing Arts Centre.

“Alfred Bader has enabled the university to be ambitious in the best sense of the word for itself,” Baldwin says. “He would not have supported something that did not transform the university. He wanted students to get a world-class experience and that is the bigger gift that is the Queen’s experience.” 

Learn more about The Isabel online, including upcoming performances and festivals.

Partnership provides interns real-world experience

[Beaty Water Research Centre interns]
The Beaty Water Research Centre collaborated with community research partners Loyalist Township and Quinte Conservation to secure funding to support three internships, which were co-funded by the MITACS Career Connect initiative and these community partners. The interns were, from left, Michael Pope, Lauren Halliwell, and Olivia Hughes. (Supplied Photo)

The Beaty Water Research Centre (BWRC) encourages collaborative interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach, spanning traditional water-related disciplines, as well as non-traditional and emerging disciplines. 

[Beaty Water Research Centre]
Beaty Water Research Centre

“One of the goals of the BWRC is to support students so they have the opportunity to succeed not only in the pursuit of their research and education while they are students at Queen’s, but also to prepare them to lead successful careers in their chosen STEM field,” says Pascale Champagne, Director of BWRC.

As part of this strategic goal, this year the centre collaborated with community research partners Loyalist Township and Quinte Conservation to secure funding to support three internships, which were co-funded by the MITACS Career Connect initiative and these community partners.

The internships provide a unique opportunity for recent Queen’s STEM graduates to gain valuable research and development experience, allowing them to apply their education to tackle real world issues related to water management and treatment optimization of interest to BWRC community partners. 

This year’s interns included Olivia Hughes, a chemical engineering graduate, Michael Pope, a graduate of the Masters of Science program in geography and planning, and Lauren Halliwell, a graduate in environmental science.

Hughes is currently working with Loyalist Township on a project related to the review of water treatment processes and optimization.  

“I’m fortunate to work on a project that positively impacts so many people, and to be supported by both BWRC and utilities staff at Loyalist,” she says. “It’s exciting to work with operators that have years of accumulated experience and to find ways to help them do an even better job at providing an essential resource for our everyday lives.”

Pope is working with Quinte Conservation on a hydrologic computer model to predict flood and drought conditions in the Salmon River, which is allowing him to expand his knowledge of natural waterways and engage community partners.

“This internship has allowed me to apply theoretical concepts to provide practical solutions to issues that are important local residence,” he says.

Halliwell is working on water quality analysis and the development of a master watershed plan for Quinte Conservation.

“This experience has awakened my interest and appreciation for watershed quality. I am very grateful to learn invaluable communication skills collaborating with the Quinte Conservation staff, my supervisors at the BWRC and the local community,” she says. “This internship has exercised my creativity throughout the responsibilities of managing a project that really makes a difference in the local community and the environment.”

Jyoti Kotecha, BWRC Associate Director, Research & Business Development, says that, “throughout the internship the BWRC provides guidance that supports the interns to develop not only their research and development skill, but to also develop workplace skills such as project management and business communication skills.”   

Each intern works directly with the community organization, and receives technical support from Geof Hall, Associate Director, BWRC Education & Outreach.

Engaging with local and international communities

[Queen's Cares Alternative Reading Week]

The Queen’s Cares Alternative Reading week program has expanded to provide students with opportunities to engage with communities locally and globally.

Over Reading Week in February more than 40 undergraduate Queen’s students from a range of faculties and disciplines worked in seven teams in Kingston, and, for the first time, in New Orleans and Ecuador. The students completed projects that supported community initiatives in partnership with a variety of organizations, including Camp Restore and ArcGNO in New Orleans, Fundación Brethren y Unida and Bee Farm Shunku in Ecuador, and Joe’s MILL and Art the Science in Kingston.

“We are thrilled to have built so many great connections with organizations this year so that our students could learn from a variety of international and local community partners and work collaboratively in supporting community initiatives,” says Kevin Collins, Coordinator, Community Engaged Learning in the Division of Student Affairs. “Our new international placements offered a unique opportunity for participants to create networks overseas, enrich their academics through experiential learning, cultivate intercultural awareness and understanding, and explore ethical global engagement and positionality.”

Sari Ohsada (Artsci’19) traveled to Ecuador to work with Operation Groundswell, an organization that partners with a number of community groups to offer experiential learning opportunities focused on food security and indigenous farming practices.

“While our time abroad was relatively brief, the overall experience deepened our understanding about the global food sovereignty movement and the importance of supporting alternative, grassroots initiatives,” she says. “Also, gaining insight about fair trade learning through our host organization, Operation Groundswell, was a meaningful experience which enabled us to critically reflect on our own positionality and privilege, and gain a sense of humility on our engagement abroad.”

For Connor Black, a fourth-year Life Sciences student, working with the Habitat for Humanity program in New Orleans was a valuable learning experience and a chance for personal reflection.

“The main focus of the Queen’s Cares experience was to learn about the organizations and the people in the community who were working together to get New Orleans, especially the Lower Ninth Ward, back on track after Hurricane Katrina,” Black says. “While we were there, we had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in local culture, work alongside some amazing individuals, but also reflect on the work we were doing and talk about any misconceptions we may have had prior to the trip.”

The international opportunities were the result of a partnership with Western University and were in part supported by the Career Ready Fund from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Pre-departure training was provided to all participants in collaboration with the Department of Global Development Studies, Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, Queen’s Environmental Health and Safety, Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC) and the Experiential Learning Hub in Career Services.

In Kingston, projects included collaborating with the Kingston Frontenac Public Library to draft a marketing campaign to attract millennials, and partnering with KEYS Job Centre to promote their BAG project. Students also worked on detailed planning for Focus Forward for Indigenous Youth’s first two greenhouse projects and assisted with after-school programming and the planning for Pink Shirt Day at the local Boys and Girls Club.

On March 13, the Division of Student Affairs is hosting a Queen’s Cares Showcase to highlight the experiences of the student participants. The event will take place from 6-7:30 pm in the Agnes Etherington Art Centre with doors opening at 5:30 pm. It will include jazz music, refreshments and interactive displays. All are welcome to attend and learn more about the program and how to get involved in community engaged learning opportunities.

For more information about Queen’s Cares, visit the Student Experience Office website.

Queen’s opens its doors to prospective students

March Break Open House allows students and their families to experience life at Queen’s.

This weekend is going to be particularly busy on campus.

On Saturday, March 9, more than 4,500 prospective grade 11 and 12 students and their families are expected to attend March Break Open House.

The day-long annual event offers campus tours, mini-lectures, opportunities to speak with current students, faculty and staff, faculty- and school-based programming, and general information sessions on topics including residence, finances, and the application process. Hundreds of faculty, staff and students are on hand all across campus to answer questions about their departments, programs, and services.

“It is always exciting to welcome so many potential students and families to campus,” says Ann Tierney, Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “This is an important time as students make decisions about where to study next year and we want to do all we can to ensure they have the information they need to make the decision that is best for them.”

This year, March Break Open House will be showcasing some of the new spaces in Mitchell Hall. The Student Services Fair will be held in the atrium, where visitors can talk with representatives from Student Awards, Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment, Career Services, the Student Experience Office, Girls SySTEM, Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre, Athletics and Recreation, Queen’s Student Diversity Project, the City of Kingston, and First-years-Not-in-Residence.

For a full list of events and to register, visit the Undergraduate Admissions website.

Students look to keep graduates in Kingston

Hands-on learning program looks at local employment opportunities for Queen's grads entering labour force.

Student Consultants Ioana Tabra and Yangchen Zhang of the Queen's Business Consulting group.
Smith School of Business student Consultants Ioana Tabra (left) and Yangchen Zhang (right) of the Queen's Business Consulting group.
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Each year, Queen’s attracts thousands of students from across the country and around the world, but once they graduate many choose to leave Kingston to seek out careers elsewhere.

Fourth-year commerce students from the Smith School of Business are now seeking to understand students' perspectives regarding employment opportunities in the City of Kingston, as part of an experiential learning project within the Queen’s Business Consulting Group (QBC). The results will inform the development of a sales and marketing plan the students will present to the Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO), which commissioned the work to support efforts to increase and enhance Kingston’s labour force.

“QBC projects like this one are fantastic opportunities for our students to gain hands-on, industry-facing experience before graduating,” says QBC Director Charles Mignault, who will oversee the students’ work. “Furthermore, they find the work enriching because they are able to see the impact they can make on their clients’ missions. The project with KEDCO, for instance, could provide invaluable insight into how Kingston can continue to grow and prosper.”

Thousands of students graduate from Queen’s on an annual basis, but since 95 per cent of the student population originates from outside Kingston, improving the city’s ability to retain this intellectual capital remains an ongoing priority.

“To keep pace with the growth of local businesses and our success in attracting new international investments to the city, ensuring that Kingston has a strong workforce is essential,” says KEDCO CEO Donna Gillespie. “Retention of graduating students and attraction of alumni back to Kingston to live and work is of increasing interest. We look forward to gaining insights from students and alumni to guide our marketing efforts and talent retention strategies.”

Led by students Ioana Tabra and Yangchen Zhang, the study will seek to identify existing challenges and problems that deter students from considering a career in Kingston, highlight key factors that affect where students choose to launch their careers; and examine student perceptions about opportunities in the city and how they have evolved over the past 10 years. The pair aims to survey 3,000 members of the Queen’s community, including both current students and alumni.

“The university plays a distinctive role in the city culture, as students bring enthusiasm and vibrancy,” says Tabra, who invites current Queen’s students and alumni to fill out the survey. “We have a unique opportunity to give back to the city that has been our home-away-from-home for the duration of our degree and to see it flourish. The research we are gathering will support KEDCO in building engagement and convincing highly-skilled graduates to live and work in Kingston.”

Tabra and Zhang are two of many QBC students currently working to provide high-impact consulting advice to businesses, government, and non-profit organizations across Eastern Ontario.

Last year, students completed an operations plan for the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Kingston Health Sciences Centre to help them take steps to lower wait times for diagnostic procedures and increase accessibility to clinics for women across the region. Recently, others created a digital marketing plan for the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs, which resulted in one of the student consultants being hired by the organization. This semester, another group of students is working on an affordable housing demand analysis for Prince Edward County.

“The QBC program always partners with clients who work in an area that supports social impact,” says Mr. Mignault. “In that space, the senior-level students not only gain the practical, problem-solving experience and client management skills that could accelerate their career readiness, but they get to make positive contributions to society.”

Participating in the Queen’s Business Consulting Group is open to all Queen’s students – not just those in commerce or other business programs.

To learn more about the program, visit the website.

Planning an international experience

The International Planning Project course provides SURP students with an experiential learning opportunity in India.

  • Group discussion with Village Elders from Edayanchavadi regarding tourism impacts and their community
    School of Urban and Regional Planning students hold a group discussion with village elders from Edayanchavadi regarding tourism impacts and their community. (Supplied Photo)
  • Students work an information kiosk
    International Planning Course team members work at an information kiosk located at the Visitors Centre in Auroville, India. (Supplied Photo)
  • Team picture at the Matrimandir
    The School of Urban and Regional Planning team members for the International Planning Course gather at the Matrimandir in the Indian city of Auroville. (Supplied Photo)

Adaptability and flexibility, preparation and communication, stress management and staying in the moment.

A group of students from the School of Urban and Regional Planning who recently took part in the International Planning Project course (SURP 827) gained a world of experience and learned valuable lessons as they traveled to India for two weeks to create a project report of professional quality for the community of Auroville.

The course is a collaborative challenge that tests the students’ resilience and abilities, but, at the same time, provides an opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge as they look to their future careers as planners.

“Project wise, in general, it’s nice to actually get the experience working for a client. You have a strict deadline that you have to meet and then you are also challenging yourself because you have traveled to get there and you’re maybe a bit jetlagged,” says Carling Fraser, one of the eight members of the Queen’s team. “It’s a totally different environment that you are not used to. It was a real experience and there’s another layer to it when you are in a different cultural environment and you are still expected to keep to your deadlines and adapt pretty quickly.”

Preparations are key for the planning course.

Starting in September, the student team, which this year happened to be entirely female, had 12 weeks to conduct advance research, collect information, and make initial contacts before heading to India in early December.

The team then had two weeks to gather information and develop a tourism management plan to be presented both in Auroville and back at Queen’s.

Arriving after a 30-hour flight and a three-hour drive, the team quickly got to work on the first day. The first week is primarily filled with gathering information on the ground, analyzing, and making adjustments before preparing the report and making the final presentation.

It’s a whirlwind of activity and no one can do it alone. Some of the major tools that come out of the experience, says project manager Natalie Armstrong, are teamwork, adaptability, and communication skills.

“We are there with each other as a group 24/7 for two weeks. You learn to communicate within your team and the different communication styles of the team members and how to balance those, as well as the strengths and the weaknesses of the team dynamics,” she says. “The project itself is so interdisciplinary. You are talking to so many different individuals that I think learning to communicate with multiple types of people. Not just language barriers but understanding residents with different priorities and competing priorities. So learning how to effectively talk to others and understand their interest behind their position and then working off that.”

With a tight deadline, time management is crucial. Despite the pressure, the team set schedules, learned to alter course when needed, and came through with a final product on time that was well received.

“We were looking at tourism impacts for Auroville as it currently doesn’t have a tourism management plan in place. We quickly found out that the community is conflicted as to what they would like tourism to look like as well as what tourism looks like currently,” Armstrong says. “I think our report did a good job in creating a foundation and a plan as to how the community can go forward. We looked at impacts such as environmental, social, community, and economic and provided some recommendations and implementations for how they can manage these impacts going forward.”

Now in its seventh year, the International Planning Project course, led by SURP Professor Ajay Agarwal, provides a real-world and international experience.

This opportunity to step outside of North America is a key element for the school and continues to attract students to Queen’s.

“Personally, when I was looking to come to grad school I was looking for an international experience,” says Armstrong. “I didn’t participate in one in my undergrad so it was something that I was seeking. It definitely was something of interest from when I was applying to schools because I wanted to have that unique experience that sets you apart when you are done school. I feel like at the end of the day you all graduate from the program but something like this kind of sets you apart.”

For more information about the course or to obtain a copy of the full project report, contact Dr. Agarwal.

Recognizing the best in teaching and learning

Queen’s University’s teaching award recipients were recognized in a special event hosted recently by Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) Jill Scott at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

[Laura Murray and Vanessa McCourt]
Laura Murray (English Language and Literature), winner of the Educational Leadership Award, and Vanessa McCourt, winner of the Michael Condra Outstanding Student Service Award, have a chat during the Teaching Awards Reception. (Photo by Bernard Clark)

More than 80 Queen’s faculty and staff members were honoured for their deep commitment to teaching and to the learning of students.

The event was highlighted by a talk by Erik Knutsen (Law), the recipient of the 2018 Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award. The deadline for nominations for the 2019 award is Monday, March 4. Full details about the award and the nomination process are available online.

Presented by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf the Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards celebrate teaching excellence and trans-disciplinary leaders in teaching while also highlighting the diverse ways in which the student learning experience is enhanced by educators and educational supports at Queen’s.

The deadline for the 2019 award nominations is Monday, April 1. More information regarding the Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards, including the nomination process, is available on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.

Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards
2018 Winners

Michael Condra Outstanding Student Service Award
Vanessa McCourt, Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre

Promoting Student Inquiry Teaching Award
David Parker, Department of History

Curriculum Development Award
William Nelson, Department of Biology
Randy Flanagan, Department of Psychology
Alan Ableson, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Wanda Beyer, Faculty of Arts and Science Online
Erik Bigras, Faculty of Arts and Science Online
Julian Enright, Faculty of Arts and Science Online
Rachel Eagen, Faculty of Arts and Science Online
Nadia Morel, Faculty of Arts and Science Online

Educational Leadership Award
Laura Murray, Department of English Language and Literature

International Education Innovation Award
Yuxiang Wang, Department of Biology
Stephen Lougheed, Department of Biology

Educational Technology Award
* No qualifying submissions

A full list of award winners and internal teaching awards is available online.


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