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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
December 4, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Graduate Testimonial: Jim Wood

Anyone considering Laurier for their doctoral degree in history should be aware that the smaller setting is going to be a major advantage when it comes to forming a close working relationship with one’s dissertation supervisor and comprehensive field advisors. They, in turn, will come away with a real knowledge of you and your work, and be in a position to actually comment on your work ethic, integrity, perseverance, and other such traits that are not easily quantifiable, but very necessary in today’s job market.

My success as a university teacher is due in part to the in-depth preparation for teaching that I received at Laurier. Not only did the comprehensive fields reading lists amount to some 240 books, but on the one occasion when I was contracted on short notice to teach a new course in a field that I had never studied at the undergraduate level, the strangest thing happened. One of the profs in the department at Laurier actually sent me her syllabus to help get me started – and she wasn’t even one of my former supervisors! You simply won’t get that sort of help from professors in a larger department (or most smaller ones, for that matter!). This is not a department where the doctoral student is going to find themselves cast adrift – even after they graduate.

One advantage of Laurier’s funding packages is that they do not cut-out after year three, leaving you scrambling for teaching contracts while also trying to complete your dissertation. As for the work required as part of a teaching assistantship, I always considered the experience of leading undergraduate discussion seminars, delivering guest lectures, and marking research essays written by Laurier students to be excellent training for teaching. A teaching assistantship at Laurier will allow you to benefit from working for professors who genuinely care about the university’s reputation for excellence in undergraduate teaching. As someone aspiring to the profession of teaching history, these are the people you want to learn from.

Finally, Laurier is also home to the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies. Connections with this organization can provide opportunities to take part in overseas study tours, both as a student and a guide, The Centre’s directors are internationally-known experts in their fields, and this organization’s reputation within the field of Canadian military history opens all sorts of doors, from local archives to invitations to international conferences as far away as the United Kingdom and Australia.

Dr. Jim Wood, History Instructor, Okanagan College, Salmon Arm Campus