Five Brock graduate students packed their bags last year to take part in a unique international exchange that is bringing the world of inclusive practices for people with disabilities a little closer together.
The students spent several weeks in the United Kingdom with the internship program “Advocacy and Leadership: Enhancing educational and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.” The multi-year project is led by Brock Education professors Sheila Bennett and Tiffany Gallagher and receives funding support through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and its highly competitive Canada-European Union Program for Cooperation in Higher Education, Training and Youth.
Bennett and Gallagher are co-ordinating exchange experiences for more than 70 students and faculty, from seven partner institutions in England, Belgium, Finland and Canada. The program brought graduate students from Finland and Belgium to Brock during the Fall semester. This summer, a second group of five Brock students will be on exchange in Belgium.
“Students who participate come from a broad range of disciplines and share a wide range of skills, expertise and ideas – for example, the Brock graduate students who were on exchange last year came from Education, Child and Youth Studies and Applied Disability Studies programs,” says Gallagher. “The goal of this experience is for these students to become leaders in their own communities with respect to advocating on behalf of people with disabilities.”
As part of the program, students receive two course credits in conjunction with internship experiences in educational and community settings, around the world, that relate to their studies.
MEd student James McInnis spent his exchange at a school in Bedford, England. He says the school has gained a strong reputation for its inclusive practices mainly due to the leadership of its headmaster.
“The placement was an ideal fit for me since my thesis research focuses on the pivotal roles that school principals play in inclusionary settings,” says McInnis, who also teaches part time. “The Bedford headmaster will be one of several case studies that I will present as part of my thesis.
“Overall, the exchange allowed me to grow as a researcher, graduate student and educator.”