Sophia Horwitz is excited to ask the Dal community some big questions.
“What is learning that makes it so alive for you, and how do we integrate that into the larger idea of Dalhousie?” she says.
Horwitz is one of the facilitators who will guide the Dal community in conversation at the DALVision 2020 Senate Forum on Undergradate Education, which takes place on Tuesday, November 13.
DALVision 2020 will be held in the McInnes Room of the Student Union Building during the day, with an evening session in Jenkins Hall at Truro’s Agricultural Campus. It will also be webcast so faculty, staff and students who can’t attend in person can be connected to the conversation.
The Senate Forum’s goal is to start a discussion about academic innovation at Dalhousie, with the goal of preparing Dal undergraduate education for the students of 2020 and beyond.
Read also: Destination 2020: Preparing for the future of university education (Dal News, October 3)
Horwitz, a Dal alum herself (IDS and community design), is the founder and director of the Co*Lab, a social innovation and creative engagement collective. She and her colleague Greg Woolner — another Dal grad, in sociology and music — will be guiding faculty, staff and students in World Café and Open Space conversations throughout the day.
The other facilitator at DALVision 2020 is Sheila Brown, former president of Mount Saint Vincent University, who assists post-secondary institutions in discussions about educational issues, governance and best practices.
“We want a broad conversation, an inclusive conversation, where different perspectives are brought to the table,” says Dr. Brown, who says that part of her role at the forum will be to contextualize the discussion within a large framework, one that takes into account similar conversations across the post-secondary sector.
See also: Academic Innovation at Dalhousie
“We’re going to try and structure things in such a way that people don’t end up just focusing in on very narrow topics,” she says. "We’re having a visionary conversation, a conversation that needs to break down boundaries, not be constrained by them.”
Sparking conversations, sharing knowledge
The forum’s morning keynote speaker will be Nick Mount, nationally acclaimed scholar and Dal alum, with a lecture titled “The Talk About Teachers Today: Why scholarship thinks we're ignorant, Margaret Wente hates us, and the world still needs us.” The afternoon keynote will be by Shelagh Crooks, who has worked extensively in education policy in her role with Saint Mary’s University, speaking on “Teaching as Inquiry.” DSU President Jamie Arron will also speak on the student experience, and there will be a panel discussion towards the end of the day.
See: Full schedule, DALVision 2020 Senate Forum: Halifax, Truro
But it’s between the keynotes that some of the most exciting talk will happen, as Hortwiz and Woolner lead attendees through World Café and Open Space conversations about the issues raised, in small groups of no more than four or five people.
“You’ll get to meet many people throughout the day and share those ideas,” says Horowitz. “We’re not looking for a few isolated stories, but the larger patterns and insights that are coming out of the whole group, and we’ll have ways to cluster that information in the moment and feeding back to the group.”
“It’s a rare opportunity to have people from students to faculty to admin all in the same room, from different departments,” adds Woolner. “Everyone is going to be mixing and sitting with different people and we’ll be harvesting ideas and themes from every discussion.”
If you haven’t had the chance to sign up for the DALVision 2020 Senate Forum, do so soon.
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