Crossing disciplines to foster global citizenship

John Cameron, International Development Studies

“The goal is to move away from an introduction in a particular field of study and to focus on a theme.”

Supporting first-year students through academic innovation is a key priority toward helping ensure Dalhousie's long-term success. With that in mind, John Cameron is co-developing a first-year class that gives a whole new meaning to the term “interdisciplinary” and expands conceptions of experiential learning.

The idea evolved out of conversations between International Development Studies Professor John Cameron, English and Canadian Studies Assistant Professor Erin Wunker, and History and Canadian Studies Associate Professor Claire Campbell. Since then, Dr. Cameron and Dr. Wunker have been collaborating to develop what will be an introductory class for both International Development Studies (IDS) and Canadian Studies called Halifax and the World. It will also incorporate elements of literature, history, and other arts and social science disciplines.

The class will focus on helping students develop an awareness of their roles as global citizens. Students will learn how their morning coffee affects farmers in Ethiopia and how the minerals in their smartphones are causing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The first step in acting as global citizens is understanding those connections,” says Dr. Cameron. Alongside these discoveries, they’ll be learning more about Halifax and its history and culture.

Engaging students

Dr. Cameron hopes that this new way of incorporating experiential learning into an introductory class will produce more engaged students, both in their studies and in the city where they live. Dr. Cameron and Dr. Wunker hope that the class will be approved by FASS this fall and available for students in 2013.

Halifax and the World is a fresh new approach to the introductory class. “The goal is to move away from an introduction in a particular field of study and to focus on a theme. One of the themes that IDS and Canadian Studies have in common is the place where we live—Halifax,” explains Dr. Cameron. This new class will serve to provide a base for the rest of their learning by providing a solid foundation that starts at home.

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