University of Calgary

Learning from the Community

UToday HomeJune 28, 2011

By Betty Rice

Dozens of community members were invited to help the education faculty determine its vision for 21st century education. Dozens of community members were invited to help the education faculty determine its vision for 21st century education. If a business wants to develop its strategic direction, it calls on clients and stakeholders to help determine the way to a successful future. But what if your client base involves virtually everyone in the community?

That’s a challenge the education faculty faces as it develops its vision for 21st century education.

“When you think about it, we really do have an impact on everyone,” says Dr. Dennis Sumara, dean of the education faculty. “We connect with students, both in the K-12 school systems and with those we educate to teach them. Through education, we touch parents and the school boards and government.” Furthermore, education research drives how we consider educational policy and methods and helps set trends.

“That’s why we have to get education right,” says Sumara. “And that’s why feedback from the community is crucial to our strategic planning.”

Last month, 75 community members representing a range of education’s stakeholders were invited to campus to provide input in shaping the strategic direction of the Faculty of Education. “Engaging New Ideas in Education: A Dialogue with the Community” saw Sumara outline the ground work done on the strategic planning process, seek reaction to that work and ask the audience to help determine the way forward.

The audience was given an overview of the structural changes that have taken place in the faculty in the past 18 months. In a roundtable session that followed, they asked a lot of questions.

“There were many more questions, excellent questions, than we had time to answer that afternoon,” says Sumara. “So we’ve taken those questions, considered them all, and we’ve been working on addressing them.”

For more information about Engaging New Ideas in Education: A Dialogue with the Community, including audio of the opening comments by Sumara and president, Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, photos and a video gallery, visit: www.ucalgary.ca/gplp/