OUR STUDENTS RETURNED TO CLASSES THIS FALL WITH EXCEPTIONAL ENERGY, an eagerness to learn and a desire to grow intellectually. The start of the academic year is always a special time, one with which we can all identify. The season signals the arrival of new learning opportunities, it presents new ideas to be debated and discussed with faculty members and fellow students, and it brings friendships—new and renewed—that can last a lifetime. Across campus, in classrooms and laboratories, students set about the work of developing their capacities for critical thinking, good judgment and effective communication.
Yet while campus becomes the centre of university life in September, it’s also the departure point into an ever-widening set of experiential opportunities that are available to today’s students. That’s because at no other time in our history has the breadth of our students’ civic engagement through the learning process been as deep or as far-reaching.
Through co-operative education, practica, internships, service learning, clinical programs, performance, field work and international study exchanges, we see our students constantly looking outward and welcoming the sorts of real-life opportunities that widen their perspectives.
For example, students enrolled in our Co-operative Education program now have access to work-term postings in more than 30 countries, gaining relevant career experience and developing their abilities to see the world from the perspectives of other cultures.
Many of our students choose to study abroad and we have partnership agreements with institutions in many countries, including China, Australia and France. As well, our university welcomes about 1,700 international students who bring an important and unique dimension to the learning experience.
Why is this becoming an increasingly important priority for the University of Victoria? It is because our community of teachers and learners recognizes that an engaged individual is a productive individual. We believe that an education that extends beyond the boundaries of our campus is an education that can make an even greater contribution to society.
It’s an approach that has been evolving at the University of Victoria from its earliest days, rooted in the strong attributes of a liberal education that was so fundamental to the work of our forerunner institutions and that continues at the core of our mission, along with our growing research activities and the enrichment that they offer to our learning environment.
One such example in this issue of the magazine is the work of our professors and students in response to climate change. You will read about one of our graduate student and the leadership he has brought to the “Common Energy” group of students, faculty, staff and alumni who are working to help the university become a leader in response to challenges of the climate crisis. As well, you’ll see how teachers and researchers in the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Social Sciences are adopting innovative teaching methods that bring together students from diverse disciplines and create opportunities for them to learn together, side by side.
The stories in these pages illustrate the point that every day at the University of Victoria—and in many, many centres around the globe—our students and faculty are engaged in the most important issues facing our world.
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