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Wilfrid Laurier University Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
December 3, 2016
Canadian Excellence


Robert Feagan, Faculty

Robert Feagan, an associate professor of Contemporary Studies at Laurier, has always been community-minded. When he joined Laurier’s Brantford campus in 2001, he recognized unique opportunities to create learning initiatives for students that complemented their in-class education.

“We had 100 students here and a whole world ahead of us to create curriculum,” Feagan said of the Brantford campus, which opened officially in 1999. “Being in Brantford near the beginning of the development of campus allowed me to carve out the kind of things that are important or that I judge are useful to the university, the students, the community, and my research.”

One such course is a fourth-year Community Internship course Feagan created in 2004. The program, which is part of Laurier Brantford’s Community Service Learning initiatives, matches students with groups in the community, such as Why Not City Missions. Why Not aims to empower and support at-risk youth in Brantford. Laurier students spend time with these youth and participate in a number of activities where they can form bonds and learn about each other.

“It’s an opportunity to step outside the  ‘bubble’ and see what it’s like beyond the classroom for those who don’t have the same privileges,” he said. “The students learn a lot from these experiences – about themselves, and about their community.”

Feagan says he has also learned a lot. He remembers participating in a popular theatre performance with youth from Why Not and Community Living Brant, which supports people with intellectual disabilities. He was paired with a 22-year-old blind man who was a skydiver in his spare time.

“We acted out a simple little skit on stage based on this theme, where he convinced me to try something new and we jumped off the stage together,” said Feagan. “This isn’t just about members of the university stepping out in our lab coats. It’s about learning about ourselves.”