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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

  • Group looks at 'innovative' teaching
  • Exhibit offers vision for Canada's north
  • Notes on three imminent events
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Student flanked by proud parents]

The White Coat ceremony for pharmacy students, held on January 6, was "an induction into the profession," officials explained. "Family and friends of the students watch as they are formally presented with their lab coats." Among the newly coated students was Lisa Sunstrum, who was a biochemistry undergraduate (and soccer player) at the University of Ottawa before coming to Waterloo. She was joined by her parents, Brenda and Irvin Sunstrum, for the ceremony, held at the Humanities Theatre, and calls it "a very special experience". Photo by Neil Trotter.

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Group looks at 'innovative' teaching

A task force on “innovative teaching practices promoting deep learning” is starting work this month, the winter term newsletter from the Centre for Teaching Excellence announces. It’s headed by Donna Ellis, the centre’s interim director.

Says the newsletter: “Ellis has been asked by Geoff McBoyle, VP & Provost, to chair a university-wide task force on innovative teaching practices promoting deep learning. From January to June this year, the group will work on providing an overview of relevant teaching practices internally and externally, recommending innovative practices that would benefit Waterloo, and developing an implementation plan. Task force members include Carey Bissonnette (Chemistry), Steve Furino (Dean of Mathematics Office), Tim Kenyon (Philosophy), Ron McCarville (Recreation & Leisure Studies), Nicola Simmons (CTE), Gord Stubley (Mechanical & Mechatronics Engineering), and Clarence Woudsma (Planning).”

The CTE newsletter also announces a “restructuring” of its teaching development programs for graduate students, best known as the Certificate in University Teaching (CUT). “The key changes,” it says, “focus on the introduction of the new program, Fundamentals of University Teaching, and corresponding changes to our long-standing program.

The FUT program will require students to attend six 90-minute workshops, as well as do three “microteaching modules” in which they teach for 15 minutes before an audience of peers and CTE staff. The CUT program, which will now be open only to PhD students, has FUT as a prerequisite, and has a set of requirements including workshops, teaching observations and response papers, organized into three courses, GS 901, 902 and 903.

CTE announces in the newsletter that eleven students completed the CUT program in the fall term: Osama Amin, Hussein Attia and Arash Shahi (engineering), Terry Anderson and Somayeh Moazeni (math), Amanda Clark and Belinda Kleinhans (arts), Amanda Hooykaas and Esmat Zaidan (environment), and Bryan Kuropatwa (science).

Another announcement: “In Winter 2011, CTE will pilot Teaching Development Seminar Series, a new program aimed at Waterloo’s post-doctoral fellows. Coordinated by CTE's Svitlana Taraban-Gordon, the program will be piloted with a small group of postdocs and will be offered every term. Designed to help postdoctoral fellows seeking academic posts, this new program will allow participants to discuss current issues in university teaching with their peers and CTE facilitators and get formal recognition of their teaching development efforts.”

And the winter term newsletter includes an interview with faculty member Rob de Loë of environment and resource studies, a recent winner of the award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision. Here’s some of what de Loë says:

“I think that most of us have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the world through our teaching. Sometimes we do not even know it has happened! I remember getting a letter from a student that I taught in a course near the beginning of my career. She wrote me a long letter – out of the blue – many years after she had taken the course to explain how I had changed her life, and how the successful career that she was currently having was attributable to my course. It felt magnificent!

“A big part of my philosophy is to teach the whole class, not just the keeners in the front row. I have been successful if I can help a D student be a C student or a B student be an A student. Students have different capabilities and we have to teach them all. I think it is incumbent upon us as teachers to try to stretch everybody, to try to help everybody in the class be better than they have been before.

“My approach is a mixed bag. In some respects I think I'm fairly traditional. I think lectures have their place if done properly. In my lectures, I try to be as interactive as possible — so that they are a bit more conversational. I also think that writing and independent research are really important. Writing is an art and a craft. It has to be practiced continually, and you need feedback. Therefore, I try to create as many opportunities for people to try, and then try again.”

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Exhibit offers vision for Canada's north

“An alternate vision for the North” is featured in an exhibition that officially opens tonight in the Design at Riverside gallery in the Architecture building beside the Grand River in Cambridge. The exhibition, “Next North”, continues through February 27.

It’s the work of two groups — “a research collective” and a Toronto-based architectural practice — that include Waterloo architecture faculty member Lola Sheppard. She and her partner in both groups, Mason White, were honoured last year with the Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture for their work in northern Canada, some of which led to this new exhibition.

Tonight’s event is also a launch for a publication, “Pamphlet Architecture 30: Coupling: Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism”, published by Princeton Architectural Press.

[Next North photo]Here’s how the gallery explains “Next North” (left): “The myth of the Canadian north is tied to its unique geography — a territory vast, sparsely populated, fragile and sublime. Yet, with an estimated quarter of the world’s undiscovered energy resources and one of the most dramatically changing climatological conditions, the Arctic has become a site of significant economic and development speculation. The sensitivity of this context, and the urgency with which it must be addressed cannot be overstated.

“However, there is little evidence of a holistic vision of development in the North beyond economic efficiency and expediency. How to document this complex region, and envision futures that reconcile development with traditional living patterns and fragile ecosystems will be amongst the key questions of the 21st century. The Next North exhibition proposes an alternate vision for the North, one in which architecture maintains a unique synergy with place, geography and culture. The Next North exhibition merges documentation and projection. In a territory where reality is often stranger than fiction the exhibition introduces viewers to the remarkable transformations taking place in the North.

“The exhibition centrepiece is an immersive landscape installation consisting of twenty thousand dowels. This topography hosts architectural models that engage this shifting landscape which oscillates between land and water, freeze and thaw. Maps, interactive timelines, and photographs, as well as drawings and larger tectonic investigations engage viewers in new visions of the Canadian North.”

One of the groups behind this presentation is InfraNet Lab, “a research collective founded (2008) by Mason White, Lola Sheppard, Neeraj Bhatia and Maya Przybylski. InfraNet is conducting ground-breaking research at the intersection of architecture, environment, and digital culture.” The other is Lateral Office, “established (2003) by Mason White and Lola Sheppard . . . an experimental design practice which whose work exists at the intersection of architecture, landscape and urbanism. They were awarded the 2010 Prix de Rome for their research project Emergent North and were awarded the Emerging Voices Award from the Architectural League of New York in 2011.”

The exhibition also features work by photographer Finn O’Hara and film producer Greg Hemmings, the founder of Hemmings House Pictures.

Tonight’s reception starts at 6:30 p.m., with remarks by the artists at 7:00. Everyone is welcome. The Design at Riverside gallery is open Tuesday to Thursday 12 noon to 8 p.m., Friday noon to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday 1:30 to 4:30. Admission is free. On February 15 at 6:30, Sheppard and Przybylski will give a lecture about their work in the Architecture lecture theatre, in the same building with the gallery.

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Notes on three imminent events

More than 60 part-time graduate programs offered at Waterloo — plus some from Wilfrid Laurier University — are featured at “an event for working professionals” tonight in the Davis Centre fishbowl lounge. “Enhance your career!” is the pitch. “Find out more about graduate study opportunities,” with a reminder that many of the degree and diploma programs “can be taken online or after 5 p.m. Hear testimonials from part-time master’s students; increase your earning potential with a Masters degree; learn about the tax benefits of part-time study; chat with associate deans and faculty members; find out how to apply!” Information booths will be set up by 6:00, and presentations start at 6:30. Visitors are invited to register online.

Coming tomorrow afternoon: “What can millions of cell-phone calls and app installations tell us about the structure of social networks and about how ideas diffuse across those networks? This Wednesday, Harvard researcher Jukka-Pekka Onnela, recognized as an emerging superstar of network science and its underlying mathematics, will be speaking on ‘Harnessing network science to reveal our digital footprints'. Join us for the first Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI) talk for Fall 2011.” The talk is scheduled for 2:00 tomorrow in Rod Coutts Engineering Lecture Hall room 112. Reservations are accepted online.

And on Thursday: “David B. Morrell’s book First Blood has been called the father of modern action novels,” says Shelley Hulan of the department of English. “On Thursday, Morrell, a St. Jerome's University graduate (BA 1966) and Kitchener-Waterloo native, will visit as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of UW's English Language and Literature Department and, more generally, the Faculty of Arts. Award-winning author of the novel that gave the world the pop-culture icon Rambo and numerous other bestselling works, David is always happy to return to the place he called home before moving to the United States in the mid-sixties to go to graduate school. His visit to the University ‘will give me a wonderful opportunity to revisit places that are very special to me,’ he writes on his website. Since leaving a tenured academic position in the 1970s to become a full-time writer, David has penned works in many genres, including thrillers and spy novels, and is widely regarded as a trailblazer. David will speak about his careers as a teacher and writer on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Siegfried Hall. Tickets are $10 per person and include hors d'oeuvres and one drink ticket.” There’s a reduced rate of $5 or students — call ext. 28255.


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Link of the day

The immortal memory

When and where

Employer interviews for spring term co-op jobs (“main” group of students) through February 16; pharmacy students, January 28. Details.

Career workshops today: “Thinking About Law?” 9:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. “Preparing for the LSAT” 10:30, Tatham 1208. “Foreign (Non-Canadian) Lawyers and Law Graduates” 11:30, Tatham 1208. “Teaching English Abroad” 2:00, Tatham room 1112. “Interview Skills, Preparing for Questions” 2:30, Tatham 1208. Details.

Volunteer and Internship Fair organized by Centre for Career Action, 11:00 to 2:30,  Student Life Centre.

Engineering exchange programs information session 11:30, Rod Coutts Hall room 206.

‘Facebook Tips and Tricks’ sponsored by UW Recreation Committee, 12:00, Math and Computer room 5158 (note new location).

Library workshop: “Find Books and More” 3:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library; repeated February 15, February 23 and March 1 at 10:00. Details.

Career Spotlight: Insurance industry panel discussion 4:30, Tatham Centre room 2218.

Engineering alumni and friends reception at Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, D.C., 5:30, Marriott Wardman Park. Details.

Colour Me Educated promotion, proceeds to Pathways to Education, kickoff event with student leaders in a dumpster in Student Life Centre great hall, Wednesday from 10:30 a.m.

Employee Assistance Program presents “Handling Difficult Conversations” led by Matt Erickson, conflict management and human rights office, Wednesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1302.

Library workshop: “Introduction to RefWorks” Wednesday 2:00, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library; repeated February 4 and March 4 at 10:00. Details.

Graduate student awards reception honouring recipients of major scholarships, Wednesday 3:00 to 4:30, Festival Room, South Campus Hall, by invitation.

Engineering exchange programs student panel Wednesday 4:30, location to be announced.

Hawaiian Night at REVelation cafeteria, Ron Eydt Village, Wednesday 4:30 to 8:00.

Career workshops Wednesday: “Interested in Teaching? Check Our Your On-Campus Options” 5:00, Tatham Centre room 2218. “Thinking About Teaching?” 5:30, Tatham 2218. Details.

SSHRC grants celebration dinner hosted by dean of arts, by invitation, Wednesday 5:00, Federation Hall.

Perimeter Institute presents Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Exoplanets and the Search for Habitable Worlds” Wednesday 7:00, Waterloo Collegiate Institute. Details.

East-West Music Concert Series: “China, Imagined and New” Wednesday 7:30 p.m., Conrad Grebel UC chapel. Cancelled.

Payday for faculty and non-union staff members, Thursday, January 27.

Surplus sale of furniture and equipment, Thursday 12:30 to 2:00, East Campus Hall.

International Spouses “Knitting with Maria” Thursday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre, fee $2, pre-register by e-mail lighthousenm@

[Armitage]Howard Armitage, founding director of Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, “thank you celebration” Thursday 4:00 to 7:00, Communitech Hub, Kitchener. Details.

Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Retirees Day at Warrior basketball games vs. Western, Saturday, Physical Activities Complex: women’s game 1:00, men’s game 3:00, family activities including Monster Hoops Showdown and paper airplane toss. Details.

Final date for fee arrangements for winter term, January 31.

Federation of Students candidates’ debates January 31 and February 1, 12:00 to 3:00,  Student Life Centre; voting February 8 (9 a.m.) through February 10 (9 p.m.). Details.

Web phasing protocol “Understanding and Applying” information session January 31, 2:00, Math and Computer room 2009, register by e-mail pllafran@ Details.

Board of governors February 1, 3:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Stratford Campus update event, remarks from president Feridun Hamdullahpur and others, February 2, 5:00, Stratford Rotary Complex, registration online.

[W]Warrior sports

Weekly report, January 24



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