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Student looks through a microscope

Six Social Sciences educators win Experiential Learning in Academic Programming grants

Congratulations to six of our Social Sciences colleagues who have received Experiential Learning in Academic Programming (ELAP) grants. The grants, funded through the MacPherson Institute and the Office of the Provost, provide a total of $60,000 to help McMaster educators develop and expand experiential learning opportunities in undergraduate and graduate-level academic programming.

Mar 30, 2020

Among the six winners from Social Sciences, four grants (valued up to $4,000) have been awarded to educators to build experiential learning components directly into course and program offerings. Two additional grants (valued at up to $1500) were awarded to help fund retreats or planning exercises to discuss plans to implement experiential learning opportunities within a faculty, program and/or department in the future.

Social Sciences winners

The complete list of ELAP grant winners is available in the latest MacPherson Memo. The winners from the Faculty of Social Sciences are as follows:

Course/Program ELAP Grants

Angela Orasch (Political Science) – Experiential Education Course in Urban Politics
Scott Martin (Anthropology) – The Landscape of Craft: 7 Days in the Field with Indigenous Master Potter, Richard Zane Smith
Karen Bird and Cassidy Bereskin (Political Science) – Model City Hall Hamilton – Capstone Experiential Learning Course in Politics and Public Policy
Janice Chaplin (Social Work) – Preparing Social Work Students for Field Placements Using Trained Client Simulators

Capacity Building ELAP Grants

Greg Flynn (Political Science) – Capacity Building Initiative, Political Science
Jay Carter (Community Engagement) – Capacity Building Initiative, Community Engagement Minor

Putting the awards to work

While some winners may need to defer their awards in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and lab closures, others are looking forward to operationalizing the funds as soon as possible.

“In Political Science, a core aim of experiential learning is to provide structured opportunities for students to understand the dynamics of policy controversy, positioning and power,” said Karen Bird, professor and chair of Political Science. Karen, along with undergraduate student collaborator Cassidy Bereskin, won the ELAP grant for their proposed capstone course.

“Students select a current policy issue in the City of Hamilton (e.g., public transportation, affordable housing & homelessness, climate action, waste diversion, electoral reform, etc.). Working in small teams, they review staff and media reports on that issue, participate in facilitated discussions with city staff, civic leaders and stakeholders, and observe city council and/or committee meetings,” Karen explained. “Students will then apply their learning to prepare policy briefs and assist delegates (local high school students) participating in Model City Hall Hamilton. They come to discern and understand political differences on controversial policy issues, and to appreciate how legislative rules and procedures, power, interests and ideas shape decisions, outputs and outcomes.”

Similar to this example, all of these grants will help Social Sciences provide hands-on learning opportunities to students across the Faculty.

“Congratulations to all of the winners from Social Sciences and across the University,” said Tracy Prowse, associate dean (academic) for the Faculty of Social Sciences. “We applaud your creativity and ambition and look forward to offering students even more opportunities to apply their course work in practical ways.” The new experiential learning opportunities will begin rolling out for Fall 2020.