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Students largely mum on academic plan

by The Concordian March 8, 2011

If students are contributing to the formulation of the university’s next academic plan, they aren’t doing it in person. Provost David Graham invited students to three recent Open to Question series held in February and early March to discuss the matter. Sessions were poorly attended by students, but saw high participation from faculty. Graham said at least five students attended the March 4 session, adding that it consisted of a higher proportion of students than in February.

However, he noted students have been giving feedback using several platforms – by letter, email, in the comment section reserved for that purpose on the Provost’s website, and in this month’s faculty council meetings.

“I didn’t hear a lot of expressions of concern” during the sessions, he said. Some concerns were program specific, while others were related to “ways in which students can have input into reshaping academic programs.” Online, some questions were directed towards the financial viability of the objectives proposed in the plan.

Graham also noted students showed interest in learning from direct experience: “[Hassan Abdullahi, the CSU’s VP Loyola and Advocacy] spoke particularly to the inclusion of experiential learning and co-op as an objective in its own right in the academic plan and he said that was something students had told them they were very enthusiastic about seeing.” This inclusion is a departure from the previous academic plan, which made no mention of it. Graham said that is something both he and Vice-Provost of Teaching & Learning Ollivier Dyens have had in mind for years. “It’s really part of [Concordia’s] institutional DNA to engage in that kind of learning,” he explained.

Even if students didn’t attend the Open to Question sessions, they haven’t completely missed the boat on getting their ideas into the plan. “Students will have a major opportunity both [at the committee of the whole] and at the Senate Academic Planning and Priorities Committee to have input into reshaping the plan,” Graham said. The academic planning working group will then rework the plan in order to take into account comments that have been made by students.  He added, “My hope is that the student senators will take an active part in discussing the plan when it comes to senate later this month.”

The academic plan will govern the course taken by the university for the next five years with the goal of placing Concordia within the top five Canadian universities. The previous plan expired in 2010.

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