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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
May 25, 2015
Canadian Excellence


Community Engagement Option

The Faculty of Arts is delighted to announce the introduction of the new Community Engagement Option. An Option is a mini-specialization, and this one combines what you are learning in the classroom with real-life situations in downtown Kitchener.

This learning opportunity will start in September 2014, and its core courses are open to all 3rd and 4th year Honours Arts students. Be among the first to enroll in them, and expect innovative and transformative learning experiences.


What is the Community Engagement Option?

The Genesis: The Faculty of Arts partnered with Laurier’s Centre for Community Service-Learning (CCSL) and The Working Centre (TWC) to develop the Community Engagement Option. It took two years of collaborative work to generate this Option. The CCSL, as their website notes, “integrates meaningful community service with classroom instruction and critical reflection. [It] provides support to students, faculty and community partners to create rich learning experiences and to build a stronger community.”  TWC for its part is a highly-respected “non-profit, community-based, volunteer inspired venture” in Kitchener that for 30 years has been developing alternative educational initiatives, seeking “to give individuals and groups access to tools and opportunities to become involved in the building of local community projects in Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas.” For more details on the types of community projects offered by TWC visit their website.

This Option enables students to learn creatively from The Working Centre’s practical projects and to complement this engagement with thoughtful reflection and discourse.

The Option consists of a minimum of 4.0 credits. Students must complete 2.0 core credits: Community Engagement (AF300, 0.5 credit); Social Inclusion, Local Democracy and Community Enterprise (AF301, 0.5 credit;, and the Semester in Community Engagement (AF305*, 1.0 credit). The option is completed by taking a further 2.0 credits from Elective courses (see the list below). To obtain the Community Engagement Option designation on their transcripts, students must have a minimum GPA of 7.00 in designated courses (core and electives), computed on all credits claimed for the Option. Students can declare that they are pursuing the Option when they enrol in AF300.

The required core courses of the Option (AF300, AF301, AF305*) are distinctive in the following ways:

  • Teaching and learning is situated primarily in Downtown Kitchener (physically, conceptually, pedagogically), building on the community-based learning of The Working Centre and other community organizations in the downtown cores.
  • The courses are rigorously designed and implemented in close consultation with community representatives.
  • Each course will include:  sharing of student experience of the topic (community, inclusion, equitable distribution, etc.); presentation of analytical lens on the issue; assigned readings on the topic; reflection on how this issue is explored in TWC activities; discussions and assignments that integrate this learning.
  • A significant portion of these courses is co-facilitated by community representatives.
  • AF305* is a placement course: students will learn by joining in one or more of the many Working Centre social enterprises, e.g. St. John's Kitchen, Recycle Cycles, BarterWorks, The Green Door Arts Space, Worth a Second Look, Queen Street Common Café.

Electives can be taken at any time in a student’s program. They include the following:

AN241 – City Life and Urban Space
AN237 – Cross-cultural Studies of Change
AN336 – Culture, Power and Politics
AN348 – Space, Place and Culture
GG265 – Urban Spatial Behaviour
GG365 – Canadian Urban Spaces
GG373 – Landscapes and Identities
GG376 – Cultural Heritage Landscapes
GS342 – Civil Society, Social Movements and Globalization
GS441 – Ecological Citizenship
HI285 – Natives and Empires
HI293 – History of Canada Since Confederation
HI320 – Canada Since 1945
HI322 – Social History of Modern Canada
HI344 – Native Peoples of Eastern Canada
HI345 – Native Peoples of Western Canada
HI375 - Seeking Justice
NO202 – Narrative, Place and Identity in North America
NO211 – Canadian Identities and Cultures
PO264 – The Practice of Politics in Canada
PO312 – The Politics of Cities and Regions in Canada
PO345 – Canadian Public Policy
PO350 – Theories of Justice
PO432 – Canadian Democracy
PP207 – Ethical Theories
PP223 – Contemporary Moral Issues
PS270 - Social Psychology
PS282 - Community Psychology
RE312 – The Human Life Cycle and Religious Development
RE331 – Religious Diversity in Contemporary Canada
SY210 – Social Inequality
SY218 – Constructions of Deviance
SY224 – Sociology of Work
SY232 – Sociology of Mental Illness
SY303 - Sociology of Youth
SY322 – Sociology of Health and Illness
SY/AN333 – Human Rights I: Canadian Responsibility
SY410 – Human Rights II: Intellectual Responsibility
WS204 – Women, Gender and Work
WS209 – Women and Leadership
WS210 - Introduction to Feminist Thought and Action

Is this Option for you?

The core courses of this Option will appeal most to students who are passionate about social justice, and who are ready to start transitioning from university to the broader world - in this case, from classroom-type learning to learning with others in a context that values civic engagement, cultural diversity, and respect for others.

The courses will nudge you to reflect on your values, teach you how to work more effectively and respectfully with others, and nurture interdisciplinary thinking and action. They will also challenge you to relate your "book learning" to "the real world." These learning experiences will prepare you to become change makers, or citizens who are committed to generate positive social change.

If you're attracted by these challenges and opportunities, this Option's for you.

Next Steps

  1. Register for the core courses as soon as possible during the registration period in June. Enrolment will be limited.
  2. Review the electives for this Option that you might have already taken, and add others as needed in order to graduate with the Option on your degree.

Questions? Please do not hesitate to direct them to the Associate Dean of Arts, Dr. Michel Desjardins: