Queen's University

Queen's community shares vision for the future

[Academic writing team]The academic writing team listened to comments from faculty, staff and students at a town hall meeting July 12

More than 60 faculty, staff and students offered their input on the future directions of Queen’s at a town hall meeting July 12.

The academic writing team, which is gathering feedback and identifying themes as part of the academic planning process, listened to comments on a variety of issues including teaching, interdisciplinarity, virtualization and finances.

Much of the discussion centred on the experience of undergraduate students in arts and science.

One student said the university should consider how better to support all instructors because students place a high value on teaching excellence. That discussion raised the issue about whether Queen’s should use professors who only teach.

A faculty member made the point that not all courses are the same in terms of what it takes to deliver them well.

A couple of professors also noted the need for more and better teaching space on campus.

The focus shifted to interdisciplinarity, which Principal Daniel Woolf has identified as a guiding tenet for the academic planning process. Faculty and students cited interdisciplinarity as an important element of a rich education. Several faculty members warned that department heads, worried about maintaining their budgets during difficult financial times, might hamper interdisciplinary efforts.

The use of technology as a learning tool was also debated. A student suggested there could be an important role for virtual courses in some programs. A librarian stressed that technology can be used to evolve and enhance the curriculum, supplementing but not replacing the classroom experience. One student expressed concerns that it can be hard to engage students with technology to the same degree as being in a class.

As the discussion turned to the academic future of Queen’s, a faculty member stated that the elephant in the room was finances. A professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science said instead of doing less with less, more could be done with less if the Queen’s community searched for new ways to do things. For example, he said, too many resources are dedicated to evaluating students instead of teaching them.

The academic writing team was pleased by the input it received.

“We were very fortunate to have a group that had diverse opinions and presented those opinions in a very articulate fashion which allowed everybody to see the difficulty in making these decisions,” said Michael Adams (Pharmacology and Toxicology).

“That was 90 minutes of people sitting in a room and thinking about what makes Queen’s special and what can make it even better. That to me is very exciting,” said Jill Scott (German).

The team strongly encourages individuals to communicate via email at academic.writing.team@queensu.ca.

An online feedback form can also be found on the team’s website.

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Last updated at 1:55 pm EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
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