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Thursday, June 19 • 10:30am - 11:20am
CON4.13 – Crossing Boundaries, Transformative Learning: Teaching Community-Based Research (A343)

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The purpose of this panel discussion is to present three different disciplinary perspectives and lessons learned from a creative teaching experiment in both individual and team-based teaching. In the fall of 2013, three courses in different disciplines at the University of Toronto Scarborough – History, Women’s and Gender Studies, and City Studies - were offered simultaneously, with the shared focus on ‘oral history and urban change’. The courses were designed as community-based research with a strong emphasis on place-based learning. The goal was to provide student researchers with the opportunity to engage directly with community members in retelling the story of Scarborough from within.

Students were organized into interdisciplinary groups of three (one student from each course.) They were trained in oral history methodology, and conducted their interviews with community members. The final project was a digital compilation of their findings, presented to a broad audience from the campus and community. The result was an example of teaching and learning alone  (separate classes, assigned readings specific to the discipline, individual assignments) and teaching and learning together (shared class meetings on common themes, group assignments, multidisciplinary field research teams and a process of collaboration that required the understanding and appreciation of difference).

The outcome of this initiative demonstrates the transformative power of new and creative ideas generated from diverse people connecting and collaborating both within the academy and community. The learning from the multidimensional partnerships that developed throughout the course were profound -- for students, faculty, community partner organizations, and community members who shared their stories.

In their final reflections, students described their transformative experience on both personal and intellectual levels. As one noted, “community-based research gives voice to those who are rarely heard, but have the most important and telling social commentaries to offer… my experience has been amazing.. I plan to reach out and hear more voices because I have grown a stronger passion for listening.”

Panel members are the three instructors. They will focus on the following within the context of the shared process:

Ahmed Allahwala (City Studies) will explore learning spaces reconfigured - how breaking down the boundaries between the university classroom and the community fundamentally transforms our traditional understanding of learning space.

Christine Berkowitz  (History) will explore how passive students can become active learners - how community-based research provides opportunities for transformational learning for students of History as they come face to face with the real world practice of their discipline, including grappling with the political and economic issues involved in public history and preservation.

Connie Guberman  (Women’s and Gender Studies) will explore strategies for transforming inquiry into a dynamic framework for learning and how everyone becomes a learner when engaging in community -based research. She will discuss opportunities for learning from difference and the transformative impact of bringing together different ideas, people, learning cultures, work modes and ways of knowing.

Thursday June 19, 2014 10:30am - 11:20am EDT
A343 McArthur Hall

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