On January 7, 2019 I received an email from Dr. DePauw, Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education. I had been looking out for this email since I submitted my application for the Global Perspective Program (GPP). I was very pleased to receive a note that I was selected! The program will take the group of students selected to several universities in France, Italy, and Switzerland. It will be an intense 11 days but really looking forward to it. We will be learning about higher education in the European system.
The Dean’s email indicated that there was going to be significant preparation required. Two days before my flight I am now realizing what that meant! There has been a lot of planning and preparation. I am excited about my trip, of course, but also exhausted. This is the end of the semester and I just wrapped up my work as a student and teaching assistant. I will be teaching an online course over the summer as an instructor of record and I am currently organizing the Canvas page for the course and finalizing the course syllabus. My packing is almost done – I am an early packer. But there are a few things I will need to take care of during the weekend. One of them is submitting an application for a scholarship that is closing on May 22. I have most of my the material prepared but I can see myself working away on the weekend. I do hope to make time to complete my pre-flight response for the the Atlas Badge. I did the preparation a while ago but need to carve out sometime for the response. Fingers crossed! In 48 hours, I will be on my way to my first stop, Paris, via Zurich. I have a few days there before the program officially starts on May 26 in Zurich. No doubt a few days in Paris will be a nice transition from the busy and intense semester spring has been to the GPP. One of the activities I plan to do is ride a bicycle along the Seine River, either on my own or with a tour group. I am looking forward to that and more fun in Paris! I will also be taking photos for my blog: Architectonic Toronto & Cities.
GPP starts in Zurich and ends at Virginia Tech’s Steger Center in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland. Each student is to focus on a topic and find out the European higher-ed practice in that regard. I picked two. I thought I would incline to one of them more but I remained equally interested in both throughout the semester. Here are my two topics:
a) Accessibility to persons with disabilities in higher education
I am very curious as to what I will learn on each topic. Accessibility in transport systems is the topic of my doctoral research. The topic of accessibility in higher ed interests me, not only in making medium of instruction accessible, but also the physical environment where higher education takes place.
b) Convincing students of the relevance of theory in courses/theory-heavy courses
I have always enjoyed engaging theory in my school work. I find it fascinating. What I realized, however, is that it may not be so for other students. I have had conversations with fellow students in all three levels of higher ed I have been who mentioned lack of interest or thought it was irrelevant in the real world. I disagree. In a career as a professor, I plan to teach theory of planning and theory of architecture. I think of the ways I can demonstrate to students of its relevance. During my GPP tour, I plan to ask professors that I will interact with to share their experience of how they do it.
Such a great opportunity the GPP is!