Haida Gwaii Semester update

  • Jun. 13, 2014 4:00 p.m.

submitted by Linnaea Fyles, Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society–Another academic year has come to a close for the Haida Gwaii Semesters. In 2013/2014, we completed two very successful semesters (fall and winter), with students hailing from 12 different Canadian universities. Over the course of the semesters, students learned about Haida Gwaii ecosystems, wildlife, the marine-terrestrial interface; about scientific inquiry, traditional ecological knowledge and how both enter into management; they became engaged in community through outdoor and classroom learning and took on a wide range of projects, including impact analyses of insects and maggots that populate salmon left on river banks and ways in which Haida Gwaii communities are managing challenges such as food security and co-management.A new development and highlight of the past year was the semester-long Community Service Learning (CSL) project. This allowed students to give back some of their energy to Haida Gwaii while gaining real-life experience volunteering with local organizations. CSL is an up-and-coming field in Canada, and provides students with a chance for critical reflection in a course outside the classroom. The students were given the opportunity to choose how they wanted to engage in the community (to align with their skills, interests or fields of study). They were required to contribute 10 hours to the organization(s) they partnered with, although many students enthusiastically went above and beyond this guideline. The feedback from students and community partners has been very positive and we are planning on continuing this initiative into future semesters. Throughout the summer we will be seeking further feedback and project ideas from island organizations interested in connecting with students in the context of this course. Please keep an eye out in the coming weeks for our call for submissions announcement.In the meantime, we want to say haawa! These communities have hosted over 100 Haida Gwaii Semester graduates and we want to thank each and every person who has been a part of the semester experience over the past six years. Haawa to everyone who has come into the classroom, shared their knowledge, taken students on field trips, provided accommodation, attended speakers series and closing ceremonies, received us in their place of work or welcomed students into their homes. Students remind us it isn’t just the classroom learning that makes this semester so unique, it’s the people they meet, the new experiences and food they share, and the communities that make this place so special and their experiences during the semester so meaningful. Looking ahead to the upcoming school year, there is much to be excited for. Our fall and winter semesters are both full with waiting lists – so keep an eye out for more new students in the community. We are also thrilled to announce a new program coming this fall. The Innovation Leadership Program is a five-day executive education course aimed at equipping professionals with strategic approaches to complex challenges. It will be offered in partnership with the University of Waterloo and will draw on Haida Gwaii case studies. Check out our website (haidagwaiisemester.com) for details and visit our Facebook page for updates on what the students are learning.

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