Two StFX-based outreach programs that inspire curiosity in youth and an interest in science and math have received very good news.
X-Chem Outreach and Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities—two separate programs, each facilitated by StFX faculty—have received a total of nearly $200,000 in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PromoScience Program.
The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport, made the announcement on Sept. 17, 2018, as part of $11.9 million in funding for 163 grants through the PromoScience Program, which supports hands-on learning experiences for young Canadians and teachers. The funding is used to encourage youth to make science part of their education, their careers, and their lives.
The news was welcome on the StFX campus.
“It means we can really increase our range, visit more students, improve our activities, buy more equipment, and reach more youth, more often,” says StFX chemistry professor Dr. Truis Smith-Palmer on the $75,000 in funding X-Chem will receive over the next three years. The program also received one-time grants of $5,000 for Science Odyssey and $9,500 for Science Literacy Week. She leads the program with Dr. Geniece Tapley and Jennifer Fraser.
“It’s really helpful. It will allow us to bring more programming to the communities we serve,” says education faculty Dr. Lisa Lunney Borden, who with Drs. Tara Taylor and Robert van den Hoogen in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, facilitates Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities, an after school, in-community mathematics outreach program in several Mi’kmaw and African Nova Scotian communities. The program has received $112,500 in funding over three years.
“It will help keep programming going, pay for travel, and it also allows us to bring people together to see how we can grow the program,” she says.
Both programs make a deep impact in the region.
Offered through StFX’s Chemistry Department, X-Chem is a multifaceted outreach program with over 30 years experience engaging youth in science. They provide children, from about four years old through to Grade 12, with opportunities to do hands-on science and to connect with working scientists. For decades, they’ve been bringing science to children.
They visit schools, host Saturday afternoon science and coding camps, and run seven science and six coding summer camps on campus, including two all-female camps, as well as eight off-campus summer camps, including in Indigenous communities.
Last year alone, the program impacted about 7,000 students, including about 5,500 in May and June alone, says Ms. Fraser.
Connecting Math to Our Lives and Communities, now in its fourth year, helps make mathematics meaningful to students while showing them the power of using math as a tool to address problems in the world. Ellen Carter, a doctoral student in StFX’s Faculty of Education, is the program coordinator.
Throughout the academic year, about 15-20 StFX undergraduate and B.Ed. students travel to communities to engage students in Grades 4-12 in hands-on investigations of mathematics related to their everyday lives. At year end, they host a gathering at StFX with workshops put on by community elders and knowledge keepers as well as faculty. In the afternoon they take part in an amazing math race around campus. Dr. Lunney Borden says the program is aimed at helping kids see that math is a really important part of STEM. “It’s increasing engagement and attitude, and helping to demystify mathematics.”
One of the program’s main benefits is it allows students to explore the math inherent in their own culture and to see it is an important part of their heritage.
“That’s a big part of it, connecting to the community,” Dr. Lunney Borden says. “We’re looking at issues, problems and knowledge from the community to make the links.
“It’s helping kids to see how we can use math to read and write the world.”
“We’re learning from them, and they’re learning from us,” Dr. van den Hoogen says.
Dr. Taylor notes it is great learning for the student leaders as well. “It’s outreach to them too, to help them learn about the community,” she says.
The outreach has even extended to school teachers, several of whom have taken program ideas relating to Indigenous and African knowledge back into math classrooms to use with students.
Dr. Lunney Borden says the Mi’kmaw word, Mawikinutimatimk, which means coming together to learn together, can really sum up the program. “That’s the whole goal, to learn together.”
The Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series will hold its fourth annual lecture on Tuesday, October 2 at 7 p.m. in Dennis Hall. The annual lecture is an initiative of the Hive for Feminist Research, an interdisciplinary research group formed in 2013 to increase the visibility and understanding of feminist research at StFX in all its diversity. A reception will follow the lecture and all are welcome.
This year’s presenter is Dr. Rachel Hurst, faculty member with the StFX Women and Gender Studies Program, who will present a talk entitled, “Settler Fantasies and Colonial ‘Before and After’ Photography.” Drawing on her experience in her previous work on cosmetic surgery and other idealized representations of women. Dr. Hurst will discuss the connections between visual culture, embodiment, and power within the vast photographic archive of Indigenous people from the later 19th- and early 20th-century North America.
These photographs, she says, were taken by colonial settlers and those of European descent, rather than Indigenous peoples themselves and therefore represent the fantasies that European settlers had about Indigenous peoples, even as they were presented as objective evidence of Indigenous life and peoples. Dr. Hurst argues that this archive systematically imposed European norms of gender and sexuality on Indigenous peoples.
“While there are scholars who situate gender and sexuality as central to their analyses of photographs in specific places and times, what is missing is a broad understanding of how these photographs are connected to one another across time and place – and into the present – through gender and sexuality as they are framed within a settler ‘before and after’ logic of Indigenous transformation,” she says.
Dr. Hurst founded the Hive for Feminist Research in the summer of 2013 to offer a space for StFX researchers to share and discuss work. The Hive defines feminist research broadly as a type of inquiry concerned with understanding relations of power, particularly those based on gender as it intersects with race, sexuality, class, and ability.
Dr. Christina Holmes, a member of the lecture committee, said “Dr. Hurst was chosen to give this year’s lecture both to honour her contributions to feminist research at St Francis Xavier University, as well as the importance of her current topic of research to Canadian society and how we understand reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”
The Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series serves as a connection between all four StFX faculties, the Coady Institute, and the Angus L. Macdonald Library. The lecture series runs on a three-year cycle, with a speaker from the Arts/Science/Library in year one, a speaker from Business/Education in year two, and from the Coady International Institute in year three.
Members of the Hive for Feminist Research Annual Lecture Series committee include Christina Holmes (Arts), Erin MacDonald (Coady), Opal Leung (Business), Rebecca Mesay (WMGS Student Society), Laura-Lee Kearns (Education), Melanie Warner (WMGS Student Society), and Ann Fox (Science), Library representative TBA.
It’s been a terrific time of learning about and contributing to her chosen profession for Layla Green, a fourth year honours Rankin School of Nursing student from Falmouth, NS, who has taken on a leadership role with the College of Registered Nurses Council (CRNNS).
Ms. Green is the representative for all Nova Scotia nursing students on the CRNNS.
“Ever since my first year in the program I’ve been drawn to the public health aspect of nursing, and how the profession intersects with other departments in our government to keep the public safe,” Ms. Green says.
“The CRNNS is our governing body, meaning that we not only get our licenses through them, but they are charged with monitoring our practice, keeping it up-to-date and ethical, and ultimately keeping the public safe by ensuring the highest quality of nursing and care. Being able to see behind the screen at how some of these decisions are made and even potentially add a student/upcoming nurse’s perspective on a few issues really intrigued me into pursuing this role.”
Rankin School Assistant Director Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine says the nursing school is very proud of Ms. Green for taking on this role. “Layla is making a significant contribution as the only Nova Scotia student on the CRNNS council. She is the student voice with our regulating body who grants licenses to all practicing nurses in Nova Scotia,” she says.
Ms. Green says at the end of her second year, several nursing professors brought her name up as a potential candidate and she subsequently applied and was appointed to the two-year student position on council, which rotates between Nova Scotia nursing schools.
Ms. Green started the position last fall. Four times a year she attends council meetings where they discuss various items from policies that need to be examined to news of interest from across the world that they may want to look at incorporating into their own policy/practice, she says.
“There is also discussion on how to best train and retain nurses in Nova Scotia, a topic which I’ve been able to contribute to being a student myself, and looking towards the future of being employed in Nova Scotia.”
She says her main role is to offer insight that a current student might be able to provide and to consider the concerns her peers may have regarding various issues and bring those to the table.
“I am likely to be the last student representative on the council for CRNNS as we are moving towards a One Nurse Regulator for the province, which will be a joining of the RN college and the LPN college. This has been the focus of much of the council’s work over the last year I’ve been on council and I must say it has been an amazing experience watching the dedication of the now-former president Ruth Whelan and current president Charmaine McPherson, as well as CEO Sue Smith and the rest of the council who have put so much of their time into this new and exciting direction for nursing in our province,” Ms. Green says.
She says the experience has made her more aware of the political side of the profession, and the hard work that goes on often behind the scenes to create a structured, fair, and supportive resource for nurses across the province.
“While the main goal of the CRNNS is to ensure public safety, this must involve the just regulation of its nurses, and to do so with the proactive and inviting manner with which the council has shown me is truly something I aspire to,” she says. “After attending the Annual General Meeting and awards banquet last May as a council member, I feel I now fully appreciate the strong voice the nursing community carries throughout our province, and the wonderful work that we can achieve by exercising that power to create positive change. I don’t think I had ever been more proud of the profession I am entering into and it truly reinforced that I was on the right track at this point in my life.”
Ms. Green says the position is one of many opportunities she’s had at StFX. It is hard to pin down exactly how much StFX and the Rankin School Of Nursing have influenced her over the last three years, she says, as she’s had so many wonderful role models and opportunities simply by being here.
STFX GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND
“I feel that the university experience in general tends to make you grow as a person, but StFX has gone above and beyond for me in that regard. I have been able to push myself as a leader even in first year by being on the Lane Hall House Council and the Equity and Diversity Committee on campus, then as a member of the StFX Nursing Society, and now through the CRNNS.
“Academically, I’ve been encouraged to pursue more than I thought I was capable, currently pursuing an honours degree that three years ago seemed a daunting task. Being at a smaller university in an even smaller program, I now recognize everyone in my classes and have made friends I know I will have for life, and without whom I don’t know I’d be able to do half of the things I do.
“If StFX and the School Of Nursing has taught me anything it’s that if you surround yourself with people who support you and you make those crucial connections with profs and other role models, then you can do pretty much anything you set your mind to, corny as that sounds.”
Ms. Green is currently working on research with one of her professors, Dr. Donna Halperin, and she says she would love to continue working on that project in some regard post-graduation. This past summer she had the opportunity to do a co-operative learning placement in the Annapolis Valley working on a maternal/child unit with new moms, babies and children. “After working there for two months, I can easily say I would love to work with this population again. I know that while I plan on getting hands-on experience for a few years after graduation, I still plan on staying involved with our governing body in some fashion and will always be connected to that side of our profession as my practice progresses.”
A special group of guests from Scotland was on the StFX campus this week to talk about strengthening international partnerships.
A delegation from the University of Glasgow – Dumfries Campus, School of Interdisciplinary Studies—including two faculty members and four students—was on campus to discuss potential activities for further partnerships, building on the relationship that exists with StFX’s Faculty of Education. StFX has an international practicum available to its B.Ed. students, who have been to Scotland twice.
“Hopefully, we will set up an international student placement experience,” says Anne Ferguson of the University of Glasgow – Dumfries Campus, who says the two schools have had a good relationship since they first collaborated together through Skype in December 2015.
“Student teacher placement, a student exchange program, staff and faculty mobility, we hope to try to build on that,” adds colleague Dr. Jeremy Law.
Dr. Law says during StFX’s last visit to Scotland he recalls speaking with StFX education professor Dr. Chris Gilham and becoming fascinated with his mental health literacy research, including a partnership Dr. Gilham is involved in with teenmentalhealth.org in Halifax, NS. Dr. Law says they are now working on preparing a grant for the Nuffield Foundation to introduce mental health curriculum to schools in Scotland.
Dr. Law says their university received funds from its mobility internationalization to explore closer ties and how “we can bring our campus closer to StFX, for possible student exchanges and staff mobility.”
As part of the visit, StFX placed the two visiting education students in local schools for two days and the two health and social policy students at the National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health on campus for two days. As well, Dr. Gilham facilitated ‘Mental Health 101’ for the delegation. The group also spent a day in Halifax discussing mental health literary at teenmentalhealth.org.
The students, who had to apply for the opportunity, say the experience has been terrific.
“I’ve fallen in love with it, the scenery, the people who are so kind and friendly, they want us to have a good time,” says Mr. Turner, a student ambassador at his university.
“It’s home away from home,” Ms. Craighead agrees. “It feels almost familiar even though I’ve never been before.”
Ms. Stanley says the opportunity really appealed to her, particularly the mental health side of things as well as the opportunity to visit Canada, a country she always wanted to see.
All four students say their placements were a valuable experience.
Ms. Craighead and Ms. Rae spent one day each at Antigonish Education Centre and St. Andrew Junior School shadowing teachers, helping out during lessons, even meeting with a Gaelic teacher, and getting a review of what school is like in Canada.
“It’s really interesting to see how much they knew about Scotland,” Ms. Rae said.
Mr. Turner and Ms. Stanley enjoyed learning about the work the NCCDH does and seeing similarities and differences with Scotland.
“As part of our internationalization efforts, we see this partnership as an important one that will benefit faculty, staff and students,” says Larissa Strong, StFX Director, Office of Internationalization.
“It’s been such a treat,” Dr. Gilham adds. “You don’t expect things to grow and evolve in this way. It’s very rewarding.”
A comprehensive, free, online course that helps educators—both teachers and B.Ed. students—understand and recognize mental illness while decreasing stigma in classrooms is now available—to great reviews.
The self-directed course, TeachMentalHealth.org, was developed through a five-year partnership between education faculties at St. Francis Xavier University, Western University and the University of British Columbia, and TeenMentalHealth.Org, a non-profit organization led by mental health expert Dr. Stan Kutcher. It’s intended to help pre-service and practicing teachers develop and expand their mental health literacy.
Since its August 15th launch, the course has already attracted over 1,000 registrants, and some school boards have made it mandatory professional development for administration staff.
“It’s been well received,” says StFX education professor and team member Dr. Chris Gilham.
Dr. Gilham says it’s not just that a lot of people have signed up for the course, it’s the potential the course has to work for people and to make a difference that is exciting.
He says the course was developed to address two main needs.
After completing a national scan of over 30 educational institutions and organizations across Canada, the team found there was almost nothing available for teachers related to mental health literacy training.
There was also the felt sense of teachers that they don’t have the knowledge base to deal with the mental health issues they’re seeing in their students.
The teenage years are a critical time for mental health issues. The major onset of mental illness happens between the ages of 13 and 25, and one in five youth will have a mental health illness before the age of 25, Dr. Gilham says.
This course reinforces for teachers that they are well positioned to notice signs and symptoms and be able to access school support teams to have early intervention, which helps with finding proper, effective treatment, he says.
The course, he adds, is meant to help educators and students maintain and optimize good mental health, to know when they need to ask for support, and how to identify resources and supports before things get difficult for people to take care of themselves or others.
Dr. Gilham says the team plans to collect data to see how the course is working, and will tweak and revise according to feedback.
Although originally designed for B.Ed. students and teachers, Dr. Gilham says the course would also be useful for anyone interested in mental health literacy.
It’s free. Interested people can register at any time, they can complete the course at the pace they want, and they can choose to receive a certificate of completion when finished.
StFX Rankin School of Nursing faculty Dr. Debbie Sheppard-LeMoine and Dr. Cathy MacDonald have been singled out for honours for a paper that details their creative approach to shared global learning.
The two received the Session’s Best Paper Award (Health Care & Bio Medicine1), presented in Orlando, Florida at the 9th International Multi Conference on Complexity, Informatics and Cybernetics/International Conference on Society and Information Technologies.
Their paper, Virtual Global Classrooms Without Walls: Collaborative Opportunities for Higher Learning Engagement, has also been published in the Journal of Systematics, Cybernetics & Informatics. Vol. 16; Number 1.
“In this paper, we shared our creative pedagogical approaches using synchronous communication implementing video conferencing,” Dr. Sheppard-LeMoine says.
“Our example focused on a shared teaching/learning experience that was facilitated for the undergraduate BScN nursing students in Doha, Qatar and StFX Rankin School of Nursing in Antigonish,” she says.
The focus was on building understanding of community practices in both countries.
Opportunities were also offered at the graduate level for Middle Eastern students in the areas of palliative care and leadership.
She says video technology that StFX supported in a large classroom brought together students in a shared learning experience. Both she and Dr. MacDonald say that this work provides not only an opportunity for future higher learning engagements, but also a foundation for future global collaborative research and practice partnerships.
“We were humbled that our paper was selected as the best in a session with researchers and academics from around the world,” Dr. Sheppard-LeMoine says.
“We were connected with other faculty and researchers who held a passion for how we teach creatively in our global community of education. It was a way to share with others the impact we are having in our interprofessional nursing community through the use of technology from StFX that may not be considered.”
“I was honoured that our paper was selected for the best paper award in the Health Care and Bio Medicine category of this international conference,” Dr. MacDonald says. “It was exciting that our research and pedagogical approaches were shared and recognized internationally. Having our paper published in Journal of Systematics, Cybernetics & Informatics was another unanticipated acknowledgment and truly exhilarating experience.”
The intricacies involved in preparing pre-service teacher educators for the field is the subject of a new book, Readiness for the field: Perspectives from within the triangle of teacher education, edited by two StFX teachers, Dr. David Young and Dr. Wendy Kraglund-Gauthier.
Dr. Thomas Ryan of Nipissing University is also a co-editor of the book, a compilation of 18 peer-reviewed essays, published in September 2018 by Common Ground.
Dr. Young and Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier say throughout the book the focus remains on the narrative as told by new teachers and those involved in teacher preparation and supervision.
“Each chapter is a personal glimpse into the practice of teacher education, where the value rests in the perspectives of the authors as they recount their experiences and research in teacher preparation programs and schools across Canada,” they say.
“This book is intended for academics, professionals, and researchers in education or education-related fields. We anticipate the contents herein will benefit all those involved in the education and preparation of teacher candidates from Canada and beyond.”
In the book, submissions from authors across Canada have been categorized into four thematic sections: Multiple Voices and Experiences from the Academy and the School Setting; University Faculty and Practicum Supervisors: Bridging the Classroom and the Field; Cooperating Teachers: A Reciprocal Learning Story; and Pre-service Teachers: “When the Rubber Hits the Road.”
Both Dr. Young and Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier say the book is a natural outgrowth of their roles as teachers.
As a member of StFX’s Faculty of Education and Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Leadership, teacher preparation is the cornerstone of what Dr. Young does.
Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier, a former sessional lecturer with StFX’s Faculty of Education and now a Core Faculty member with Yorkville University’s Faculty of Education, teaches MEd classes in adult education and in educational leadership. She is also the Manager of Networks and Ongoing Learning at the Coady International Institute
This is Dr. Young’s third book. His first book was Teaching online: Stories from within, which was published in 2014. His second book, published in 2017, was Education law in Canada: A guide for teachers and administrators. This is Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier’s first book.
Dr. Young’s research is focused on the broad topic of educational administration and policy. More particularly, his current writing deals with issues surrounding law and education. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publications including Capsle Comments, the Education & Law Journal, the Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, and the Journal of Educational Administration and Foundations.
Dr. Kraglund-Gauthier’s research focuses on accessible learning in face-to-face and digital spaces. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including articles in Transformative Dialogues, Journal of Educational Administration and Foundations, and the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, and chapters in Emerald’s Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning series and Springer’s Handbook of mobile teaching and learning.
StFX English professor Dr. Joseph Khoury has an exciting challenge ahead.
Dr. Khoury, a well-known Renaissance scholar, has been appointed editor of the Tudor and Stuart Book Series at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) at Victoria University at the University of Toronto.
He’s been tasked with re-energizing the series at this world-class centre.
“It’s an opportunity to try to make sure certain books that were very important for studying history and literature, and are currently out of commission, are available to today’s scholars.
“I thought it would be an interesting challenge,” he says.
“They help us to understand our past, and they help us to understand many of the issues we still contend with today, and they make for fun reading.”
The CRRS approached Dr. Khoury to see if he would be interested in the task. He’s a Renaissance scholar, his well-received book Barnabe Riche, The Adventures of Brusanus, Prince of Hungaria (1592) was published at the University of Toronto, and he’s been active with the Canadian Society for Renaissance Studies including previously serving as its president.
The books—all from the Tudor and Stuart ages, basically from around 1485-1700—will need to be conservatively modernized for spelling, grammar and for archaic words, explaining the word’s meaning at the time. Each book will need a good introduction to place it in context so that it is easier to understand, and to help make it an important study tool for students and scholars.
“It’s very important,” he says. “These books are fundamental. They allow other scholarship to happen.”
Dr. Khoury says he is looking forward to seeking scholars who want to take on these books, weighing proposals, learning about new scholarship and new ways of doing things, and working with other scholars to carry the projects through.
“The learning opportunities are immense.”
The editorship will require steady, solitary work, the kind of scholarship that is sometimes not given the kind of regard it deserves because it’s often done in the background, slowly and steadily, he says. It can be thankless at the beginning, but it is so important, especially when seeing the work suddenly picked up by other scholars who are grateful the work is being done.
Applications have now opened for the fully funded Immersion Service Learning (ISL) in Ghana student experience, a 12-week, in-country experience offered in conjunction with the six-credit course, IDS 398.
This student experience is fully funded by The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program. Students only pay course tuition.
Students must be entering third year or above in 2019-20 to apply. Application deadline is Oct. 12, 2018.
IDS 398 and Service Learning in Ghana bring together experiential learning in community-based contexts in Ghana with academic course work to deepen students' understanding of the dynamics of local change in contemporary Ghana as it relates to issues of global inequality and social justice.
Through service learning experiences in community-based partner organizations and ongoing critical reflection, students blend theory with practice for a complex understanding of community development in rural Ghana today.
This course is designed to complement learning in a wide variety of academic areas. Through community placements, students can focus on elements of the course that connect with their particular disciplinary interests.
QEScholars join a community of young global leaders across Canada and around the world to create lasting impacts both at home and abroad through cross-cultural exchanges encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences.
Learning about wind on the highway took up a good part of the year for StFX engineering students Jenny Bowie and Connor McCabe, who hope to use the knowledge to help increase fuel efficiency.
The two, who graduated this spring, spent the last year as part of a group of four students in StFX earth sciences professor Dr. Dave Risk’s FluxLab involved with novel wind modelling.
The work originated within a project helping advance truck-based gas detection technology, funded by ACOA Atlantic Innovation Fund. The goal was to improve wind measurement with better anemometer placement on the research trucks, and offset calibrations for speed and yaw. Tara Hanlon, who graduates from StFX with a MSc degree this fall, and Meghan Flood, a 2018 engineering graduate, laid the foundational research, and wind work steadily branched out in the research group.
Ms. Bowie, recipient of a 2018 Wallace Family Internship, created a mathematical algorithm to aid in measurement of wind from vehicles and started testing her product on a real vehicle. She’s been working to find the frontal wind speed experienced by a car without the use of an anemometer.
“By measuring the wind from a vehicle, the winds that highway vehicles encounter can be better understood. With greater knowledge of the relationship between wind and fuel consumption, several methods to increase fuel efficiency can be developed. Some of these include mapping winds, adjusting routes based on wind patterns, and even developing an adjustable cruise control system that accounts for wind. Research in this area is important because it is highly applicable to the industry—decreasing emissions goes hand in hand with financial savings on fuel.”
A large part of his work included using a computational fluid dynamics software to model the air flow over a transport truck.Truck-01-MyStFX.jpg This helped in determining a good anemometer location and in ensuring proper wind measurements from that location. He also worked on creating a wind-based cruise control algorithm, which showed potential for fuel efficiency increases of up to 16 per cent.
For his field work, he worked with Classic Freight, a freight company out of Dartmouth, NS, to attach an anemometer to measure winds from one of their trucks. The truck travelled around Atlantic Canada for over two weeks, collecting data on wind speed and direction. This data will be used to gain a better understanding of the winds experienced by highway vehicles and how they affect fuel efficiency.
RESEARCH EXPERIENCE HARD TO BEAT
“The opportunity to be involved in research as an undergraduate is one that is hard to beat,” he says.
“The critical thinking, communication, project management and hands-on skills that I have gained from this experience are ones that I will carry with me throughout my academic career and onward. Research as an undergraduate not only helps you to develop your academic skillset, but it also allows you to better understand and appreciate the scientific method,” says Mr. McCabe who begins his first co-op term as he moves on to Dalhousie University to complete his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering over the next three years.
“The opportunity to get involved in research is one of the great benefits of being a student at StFX. Having faculty and supervisors that encourage you to explore your ideas and ask questions provides an exceptional academic experience.”
He says what he found most surprising about his research experience is just how impactful it can be. “You don’t necessarily expect what you do as an undergraduate to have a large impact on society. But when you’re given the opportunity to ask questions and the right tools to look for answers, the results can be quite surprising.”
As brand-new StFX students run through the tunnel of cheering, enthusiastic O-Crew members, it’s hard not to share in their excitement.
It’s Welcome Day 2018, and almost 1,000 incoming students have descended on the StFX campus with their families in tow, ready to start one of the most incredible X-Periences of their lives.
O-Crew – dressed in their trademark bright pink t-shirts – are providing the chants and the singing, but it’s clear the Class of 2022 is already brimming with excitement as they check into residence, pick up their student IDs and settle in for a life-changing time.
Countless returning students and many employees were on-hand to welcome all who have made the trip – from near and far – to StFX. As new students and their families entered the Charles V. Keating Centre, they were met by StFX President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Kent MacDonald, who personally greeted all attendees. Excited students moved through registration and the Student Services Showcase, which featured information from departments across campus along with food stations and the always popular StFX photo booth.
While students were meeting new friends and residence-mates, many parents attended information sessions on how families can help their student make the transition to university life.
WELCOME TO StFX
Dr. Kent MacDonald formally addressed new students and their families at the President’s Welcome ceremony held in the afternoon.
“StFX is a selective institution,” he said. “Have a look around and recognize that you are among students from over 40 countries and from every province and territory in Canada. They, like you, could have chosen any institution and they, like you, chose StFX.
“And I think that has something to do with the exceptional learning and the community environment that we have here.”
He also addressed the emotion felt by many parents in the room as he recalled bringing his eldest son to StFX in 2008.
“As a parent, this is exactly what we’re supposed to do. Prepare our children for this moment and set them free. This is a time of growth. It’s our job to prepare them to become adults. They’re going to fall down and stumble and maybe cut their knees.
“But they’re going to be OK.”
Dr. Kevin Wamsley, StFX Academic Vice-President and Provost, spoke to the strong academic standing of the incoming class, noting they had an entrance overage of over 85%. He also assured both students and parents that StFX’s strong complement of academic staff were there to help ensure both their scholarly and personal success.
He also encouraged them to embrace new opportunities StFX.
“This is a new page that turns for you today. Do yourself a favour and write yourself into an amazing story that you’ll remember and carry for your entire lives.”
StFX Students’ Union President and fourth-year student Rebecca Mesay quoted poet Marianne Williamson in recalling that new students often feel great excitement, but also great fear.
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we’re powerful beyond measure,” she read. “It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.”
She then encouraged students to embrace their own courage.
“I know that all of all of you are facing fear as you start this new chapter. I don’t ask you to put these fears aside, but I ask you to have courage. I ask you to keep thinking one step at a time and to keep moving forward, in spite of your fears and reservations. I am asking you to have enough courage to embrace the light within yourself.”
Andrew Beckett, Vice-President of Finance and Administration and Head of Student Services, reminded students of the wealth of supports that are available should they need them.
“You’ll face good times and bad, triumphs and maybe a few disappointments. Don’t feel you need to face these alone.
“You’ve made a great choice to be here. Embrace this opportunity and make it your own. Welcome to StFX!”
“EVERYONE IS SO FRIENDLY!”
Welcome Day was a good start at StFX for Rachel O’Connell from Middle Stewiacke, who is entering the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
“I was feeling nervous, but I got here and everyone is cheerful and everyone is talking to you. It makes you feel a lot more comfortable,” she said.
The sentiment was echoed by Arman Gudelj, from Halifax, who is entering the Bachelor of Business Administration Program in StFX’s Gerald Schwartz School of Business.
“Starting university feels a bit nerve-racking, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said, before adding that he’s particularly excited to live in MacIsaac Hall. “I like that StFX feels like more than just going to school.”
Arman was joined by his step-mom Kelly Valentine, who said she felt “confident” in his decision to attend StFX.
“It’s a beautiful campus, and I feel good with his choice. He’s ready. We’re all ready.”
First-year Earth Sciences student Karley Dixon from Pictou County said she’s excited to study something she’s really passionate about and is looking forward to meeting new friends.
“Everyone has been super nice so far!” she said, as her dad James nodded in agreement.
And although bringing your child to university is a bittersweet experience for many parents, Karley’s mom Lisa says she’s feeling good about the community that Karley has chosen.
“We have a good family friend who came to StFX,” explained Lisa. “I said to her that I hope everyone is as friendly as they seem, and she promised that they are. That makes me really happy.”
The Maple League universities are offering a new, groundbreaking and multidisciplinary course exploring the theme of “time” this Fall, demonstrating how this consortium of universities can collaborate to offer students a richer, more relevant learning experience across four campuses.
Four award-winning professors from different fields (Dr. David Hornidge, Physics, Mount Allison University; Dr. Michele Murray, Religion, Bishop’s University; Dr. Michael Cardinal-Aucoin, Biology, St. Francis Xavier University; and Dr. Jeff Hennesy, Music, Acadia University) have designed an innovative learning experience in a team-taught, distance learning environment.
“It’s an exciting multidisciplinary, team-teaching approach and a very interesting topic – Time,” says Dr. Michael Cardinal-Aucoin, StFX biology professor. This course is an opportunity for students to be introduced to different disciplines and the different approaches they take to asking and answering questions, to different ways of knowing. It will give students the chance to explore subject matter, ideas, and methodologies that might usually be beyond the scope of their chosen degree program.”
Using the latest technology, students enrolled in the course at all four Maple League universities will reflect on how time informs and shapes knowledge in four very different academic disciplines. They will attend classes via videoconference and in person throughout the Fall semester. Classes are divided into disciplinary blocks and one professor explores what time means in their field of expertise with the students and other instructors. This synchronous online learning experience provides students with both in class and virtual instruction in a small, intimate, seminar-style course.
As the professors write, "Time is a concept we encounter every day and yet one that we rarely, if ever, consider beyond checking it on our wall clock (or iPhone). However, our seemingly familiar relationship with time deceives us into believing that the concept of time is a simple one. This course will seek answers to questions such as: What is the meaning of time and how can it be defined? What is the space-time continuum and what does the theory of relativity imply about time? How do organisms perceive time and what is a biological clock? How have different religious traditions perceived time and given it meaning? How is time divided to create rhythms and how do we keep a beat?"
“This multidisciplinary learning experience encourages students to make connections between facts, concepts and ideas in various academic disciplines,” says Maple League Executive Director and Bishop’s University English Department Associate Professor Dr. Jessica Riddell. “Made possible by 21st-century technology, this course is a striking demonstration that the liberal arts approach to learning – at the core of all four of the Maple League universities – is more relevant than ever for students, as they seek to understand our increasingly complex and fast-paced world.”
Through their collaboration, the four universities of the Maple League help students prepare for rapidly evolving job market, with courses like these that challenge students to think critically and creatively about the world around them.
Creating a safe, healthy, and supportive space for Indigenous learning to occur within Atlantic post-secondary institutions was the intent, and organizers of the Atlantic Indigenous Mentorship Network (Atlantic-IMN)’s inaugural Summer Institute: Weja'tu'k kina'masutiminu maqamikewiktuk (We Get Our Education From the Land), hosted Aug. 7-11 on the StFX campus, say the five-day event did just that.
“With the guidance of our Elder Advisory Circle and the planning team led by Catherine Hart, and Dr. Debbie Martin of Dalhousie University, we designed an experiential, co-learning program to support Indigenous students and students involved in interdisciplinary Indigenous health research on their academic journey,” says StFX faculty member and organizing committee member Dr. L. Jane McMillan.
“We took students out of the classroom and on to the land to consider the importance of Indigenous rights, food security and food sovereignty with community experts. The idea was to encourage students to engage with Indigenous knowledge on the land and to open their minds and hearts to new ways of learning and sharing. It was a tremendous immersive experience for faculty and students alike and a program that we will continue to nurture and grow.”
In all, 19 people participated in the institute, including nine undergraduate and graduate students from StFX, Dalhousie University and Mount St. Vincent University.
"As a Mi'kmaq student, participating in the Summer Institute at StFX was very meaningful for me because I got to learn so much about Indigenous food sovereignty and food systems from some of our Mi'kmaq elders, knowledge keepers, and from each other,” says participant Devann Sylvester of Membertou First Nation who graduated from StFX with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2017 and is now in her second year of the Bachelor of Education program, for elementary.
“I know these topics are important for our nation as Mi'kmaq people in moving forward together,” she says. “I loved how the five days of the institute involved ceremony, talking circles, field trips, traditional knowledge, discussions, feasts, and being outdoors. I became emotional at times throughout the week because I knew that I was a part of something special."
Likewise, participant Monica Ragan, a fifth year honours StFX student from Whycocomagh, NS, who is in the aquatics resource program with a focus on anthropology, said the institute was a great learning experience.
LAND-BASED LEARNING COURSE
During the summer institute, participants gathered at StFX to talk and learn about themes that ranged from Indigenous food sovereignty to the inter-connectiveness between people and food. Over the course of the event, participants took part in ceremony, cultural learning, land-based learning, community events, and were engaged by presentations and activities delivered by academics, Elders and knowledge holders, and community members with experience participating in Indigenous health research.
One of the outcomes from the institute will be the creation of an interdisciplinary and it’s hoped co-institutional Indigenous land-based learning course for credit, says Dr. McMillan.
StFX Associate Dean Dr. Cathy MacDonald, and faculty members Dr. Joanne Whitty-Rogers and Dr. Ann Fox were also participants in the event. StFX also supported the institute through an in-kind contribution from the Office of StFX Vice-President Research & Graduate Studies, Dr. Richard Isnor.
This project is funded by CIHR Indigenous Mentorship Grants.