Articles tagged with: experiential education

  • Co-op grads reach next steps despite pandemic challenges

    As a storm of uncertainty churned around them, two recent Brock grads used skills from their co-op studies to stay on course.

    Michelle Pearce and Yunzhuo (Sebastian) Wang knew their enrolment in Brock’s Co-op Education program would give them a leg up when it came to pursuing their goals, but they could not have imagined how much that experience would help them stay on track in the economic uncertainty that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Wang, who graduated with his Master of Business Administration during Brock’s Fall Convocation on Friday, Oct. 16, came to the University with his sights set on a career in finance. After completing the in-class portion of his education, the Xi’an, China, native began a co-op work term at Meridian Credit Union as a financial planning and analysis analyst.

    Many hours of interview preparation, resumé review and further acclimation to the Canadian job market with co-op’s talent performance consultants helped Wang to secure the role.

    Brock student Michelle Pearce

    Michelle Pearce used her co-op studies to gain experience in the environmental job sector and figure out which graduate program to apply for.

    “I didn’t have any Canadian work experience, and co-op let me get my foot in the workplace door,” he said.

    When physical distancing regulations shut many businesses, Wang, 26, was able to continue his work remotely and ultimately earn a full-time job with the organization.

    “The work term was the perfect way for me to learn about Meridian and get to know people there,” he said. “My preparation and the lessons I received from the co-op team made it much more straightforward to secure a full-time role in my field at a time when it was tougher to do so.”

    In addition to the job he accepted, Wang also received offers from two other financial firms, a sign, he said, that co-op students are more in-demand due to their readiness to tackle and adapt to a variety of situations.

    While Wang focused on the financial industry, Pearce, of Guelph, concentrated on the environmental sector. The 22-year-old Geography graduate, who received her bachelor’s degree Friday, completed her work terms with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a horticulture and forestry survey student.

    While there, she began to explore and interact with various environmental roles she saw as potential paths for her future.

    “Seeing the different jobs available helped me to realize how much I liked working in an environmental setting and to figure out which master’s program I would need to complete to make that possible,” Pearce said. She ultimately was accepted to Brock’s Master of Earth Sciences program.

    The pandemic affected Pierce’s final undergraduate work term, although she too said the lessons she learned from the University’s Co-op Education team are beneficial going forward.

    “The co-op team taught me how to prepare for and be flexible in the tasks and timelines I faced during my work term this summer, and how to comply with new distancing guidelines. It all helped me to settle more easily into my master’s studies this fall,” she said.

    Despite significant global change, the pair were happy to mark Brock’s Virtual Convocation and celebrate what they have achieved so far.

    “It was sad to not be there in person, but my mom and I watched together, and I am looking forward to joining with my classmates to celebrate when restrictions are lifted,” said Pearce.

    “I celebrated with a few friends, and I will share the stream with my family back home as well,” said Wang.

    As both grads return to the tasks and assignments of the fall, each emphasized the role co-op has played in their lives, especially during such a tumultuous few months.

    Co-op helped me to figure out where I wanted to go and how to get there even when the world was changing,” said Pearce.

    “The service from co-op is second to none,” said Wang. “I’m so relieved that I have been able to secure a full-time job in my field and I could not have done that without the support of the entire co-op team.”

    To learn more about Brock’s Co-op Education opportunities, visit the Co-op website.

    Story reposted from The Brock News

    Tags: , , , ,
    Categories: News

  • Brock students find alarming amounts of plastic in sand at St. Catharines beach

    A day at the beach doesn’t often involve lab work, but for a group of Brock University fourth-year Geography students tasked with assessing plastic waste on the shores of Lake Ontario last fall, it was just that.

    Back in October, students from Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Michael Pisaric’s GEOG 4P26 class visited Sunset Beach in north St. Catharines to measure the quantity of plastics turning up in the sand.

    Students measured out plots on the beach and sifted through the sand to collect as many tiny pieces of plastic as they could. They compiled their findings in lab reports for the end of the Fall Term.

    The results are now in, and they’re alarming.

    In one sample alone, one square metre of the beach yielded 665 individual pieces of plastic material.

    Pisaric called the amount and variety of plastics collected in the samples “striking.”

    “I think much of the discussion concerning plastics in the environment has been focused on the oceans and we are quickly understanding that plastic pollution is also an important issue closer to home in the Great Lakes,” said Pisaric, who is also Chair of the Geography and Tourism Studies Department. “This small study of a single beach on Lake Ontario clearly shows the prevalence of plastic pollution in our own backyard is a serious problem.”

    Emily Bowyer, a third-year student from Mississauga majoring in Geography and Biology who participated in the field collection, described it as “an opportunity to see the magnitude of the problems in the environment first-hand.”

    Another surprise to the team was the prevalence of nurdles — small plastic pellets used in the manufacture of many different goods.

    Investigation during the course uncovered a 2013 Toronto Star article that suggested nurdles may have made their way into Lake Ontario via the Humber River during a factory fire.

    “It is interesting to speculate that the prevalence of nurdles we noted in our samples may have originated on the other side of Lake Ontario,” Pisaric said.

    The professor plans to run a similar investigation when the course is offered again next fall to address some of the questions that cropped up in light of the results of the students’ labs.

    “Perhaps next time around I will have the students compare the beaches on Lake Ontario with a beach on Lake Erie,” he said. “Are similar quantities of plastics occurring in both areas? Do the types of plastic differ between the two lake environments?”

    Carolyn Finlayson, Experiential Education Co-ordinator for the Faculty of Social Sciences, attended the field trip and witnessed how interested casual beach visitors were in the students’ activities.

    “It’s a wonderful example of the larger impact experiential learning can have on our Niagara community and our students,” she said. “By working at the beach that day for their lab, students were able to start conversations with beachgoers about their use of plastic and its impact on the shorelines they enjoy.”

    Cara Krezek, Director of Co-op, Career and Experiential Education, said these were exactly the types of courses the University envisioned when it committed to expanding experiential learning so all students had access to meaningful experiences in their programs.

    “Courses like these take our students into a real-world setting and allow them to apply their knowledge, learn new skills and reflect on how they can take these experiences forward to a future career path,” Krezek said. “I am certain these students will never forget their findings and it will change the way they interact with plastics.”

    Emily Bowyer, Pravin Rajayagam and Dakota Schnierle, students in a fourth-year Geography course at Brock, sift through sand on Sunset Beach in St. Catharines to find out how many plastics are washing up on the beach.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

    Other Media Coverage

    Brock students find alarming amounts of plastic at St. Catharines beach: Extensive media coverage was given to an experiential learning exercise led by Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies Michael Pisaric that saw Brock students uncover more than 2,000 pieces of plastic on St. Catharines’ Sunset Beach. The story was featured in the St. Catharines Standard, CBC, CHCH, Newstalk 610 CKTB and Coastal News Today.

    Tags: , , , , , ,
    Categories: News

  • Experience Expo to combine career fairs from across campus

    Though she was hesitant to attend, Candice da Silva knew the difference a job fair could make in the life of a student who came prepared.

    Equipped with her resumé, the Maple, Ont. native visited last year’s Recreation and Leisure job fair and turned the outing into two jobs with the Township of King.

    With a new format this year that combines five career fairs from around the University, da Silva hopes others will come to the Tuesday Jan. 28 Experience Expo event ready to showcase their skills.

    Candice da Silva

    “The fair is a really great place to get an idea of what types of jobs are out there,” she said. “I was looking specifically for something closer to home, and there were several great options, including the Township of King, which hired me as a camp counsellor and then a program facilitator.”

    Hosted by Co-op, Career and Experiential Education (CCEE), the Department of Geography and Tourism, and the Department of Recreation and Leisure, the two-hour event aims to connect students directly with employers who are offering jobs and co-op work terms.

    For Cara Krezek, Director of CCEE, the event represents a chance to bring numerous on- and off-campus partners together and to encourage students to seek out their next steps.

    “We know students are focused on part-time, full-time, on-campus and summer employment and that often those interests and opportunities overlap,” she said. “By bringing together industry partners at the University, we have streamlined our students’ ability to find jobs that align with their current and future needs.”

    Running from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Experience Expo is free to all current Brock students and will welcome more than 30 employers to the Ian Beddis Gymnasium where they will set up information booths, facilitate networking opportunities, host on-the-spot interviews and run 20-minute fireside chats.

    With the fair also welcoming employers looking to hire co-op students for the Summer and Fall terms and bilingual (English and French) employees, there are positions available for students from any Faculty who come ready to explore diverse career opportunities.

    To prepare, Krezek said participants should treat the two-hour event as though they were heading to a job interview.

    “We hope they will dress professionally and bring an up-to-date resumé,” she said. “But beyond those basic requirements, it’s also important to prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ about who they are and what skills and experiences they have as well as to research the employers who will be at the event.”

    Prior to the event, staff in CareerZone are available to help students prepare for a variety of the crucial skills necessary when beginning career exploration.

    With so many resources available, both before and during the fair, da Silva hopes students will embrace the opportunity to explore such a wide range of options.

    “As intimidating as it can feel to introduce yourself to a potential employer, everyone there is super friendly and they want to connect with you,” she said. If you do your homework beforehand and come prepared, you will have a great experience.”

    More information about the event, including a full list of employers and a link for registration, can be found on the ExperienceBU website.

    STORY FROM THE BROCK NEWS

    Tags: , ,
    Categories: News

  • Geography student studies why some people live on the road

    STORY FROM THE TORONTO STAR | DEC 6, 2018

    Graduate student in the driver's seat of a van she bought for research

    Brock University graduate student Stephanie Murray studied movible communities in a van she bought on Kijiji. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    When Stephanie Murray, a Geography master’s student at Brock University, set out on a two-month long journey across North America to study nomads and vanlife culture, she didn’t expect to find herself learning to surf, contributing to a documentary film, or being surrounded by a pack of angry stray dogs. But she quickly learned that life on the road is full of unexpected twists and turns.

    An avid traveller, Murray stumbled onto vanlife culture. She was fascinated by the people she met, and quickly realized that although nomads living in vans had been around for years, no one had studied them yet.

    “I knew there was a gap in academia that I could fill,” Murray says. “But if I wanted to truly study this culture, I needed to be able to live and move like they did.”

    “Lola” in the field during her two-month research journey across North America. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Using funding from Brock and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant, she purchased a used van on Kijiji. Naming it Lola, she converted the vehicle into 66 square feet of living space. Then, over the summer of 2017, she drove to the west coast of the United States to attend “van gatherings,” events where people who live and travel in their vans get together to socialize and support one another. It’s a diverse group, says Murray. “One of the couples I spoke to worked remotely in IT, another couple ran a blog, and one of the other vanlifers was making money from a book he’d written. They’re a pretty talented bunch.”

    She was out to discover their motivation for giving up conventional lives and instead choosing a highly mobile lifestyle. “Our society is oriented towards people who stay in one place, and van nomads help to call that way of thinking into question.”

    “I have encountered so much kindness on the road,” Murray added. “People have welcomed me into their homes and helped me with my van, with no expectation of anything in return. And while the vanlifers I interviewed took up this lifestyle for a variety of reasons, they were united by a desire to choose their own path, rather than the one that’s handed down to them.”

    Murray was thankful that she received the full backing of the University during her time on the road.

    “Brock supported me fully from day one. And that support meant that I was able to do this research in the way it needed to be done — in person, on the road. I lived and moved alongside the people I was studying, and never once did I have to make any compromises that would have hurt the quality of my research. The University made sure I had the resources to do it right.”

    Master's student in the field during trip across north america. Standing in the foggy mountains.

    Research doesn’t have to happen in the lab. Photo by Stephanie Murray.

    Murray’s faculty supervisor and the Graduate Program Director of Geography at Brock,  Dr. David Butz, believed her research was novel and important, given today’s mobile society. Becoming a van nomad herself was pivotal.

    “This research strategy — and life choice — gives her research an unusually strong experiential and autobiographical component, which is rare in ‘mobilities’ research, and which adds to the distinctiveness and potential significance of her research,” says Butz. “We also felt Stephanie’s unusual research project, while logistically complicated, was worth supporting. We were confident about her capabilities based on her history with the University. At Brock, we encourage applications from good students and we’re willing to put funding behind that — and provide them with mentoring to apply for external funding.  Brock can offer lots of personalized attention to students.”

    Research doesn’t have to happen in a lab. There are interesting and exciting things going on around us everywhere, and at Brock University, unique postgraduate research projects in the community are encouraged.

    For her part, Murray is grateful for the support she received from Brock. “This research changed the course of my life, and it showed me that it’s possible to turn your passion into a ground-breaking research project,” she said. “If you have a clear vision of what you want to discover, Brock can help you on that pursuit.”

    Interested in studying in the Master of Arts in Geography program at Brock? Apply by February 15 to start next September.


    Story reposted from The Toronto Star

    Tags: , , , , , ,
    Categories: News

  • Geography and Tourism students put skills to the test in central Ontario

    A crisp fall breeze and the smell of pine recently welcomed Daniel Marshall into a different type of learning environment.

    The fourth-year Geography student can normally be found deep in the Mackenzie Chown Complex learning about physical geography. But, during this year’s fall Reading Week, an experiential education trip took him out of his comfort zone and into the field.

    Along with 34 other participants from the Geography and Tourism Department’s Physical Geography and Human Geography and Tourism Studies field courses, Marshall took part in a weeklong experiential learning exercise in central Ontario. The annual trip is designed to connect in-class learning with practical on-site research skills that are necessary for all geographers.

    “Sometimes in the classroom you lose focus on what you are actually studying,” Marshall said. “To be in the field and make the observations myself and get my feet muddy allowed everything to come full circle.”

    While the human geographers and tourism students went into Peterborough to gather data, Marshall and his fellow physical geographers went further afield to places such as Lochlin, Ont., where they collected soil and water samples.

    “We brought a specialized tool and took a sample from about four metres down,” he said. “We got a core that, if interpreted in a lab, could have given us 10,000 years worth of data about the area.”

    The ability to conduct applied research and maintain detailed field notes is a skill Geography and Tourism Studies Department Chair Michael Pisaric considers invaluable.

    “The field courses provide our students with hands-on experience that allows them to put their training and academic studies into practice by connecting first-hand the classroom learning they have done to the real world,” he said.

    Longstanding teaching assistant Darren Platakis, who has worked with countless students in his 10 years helping with the trip, echoed the sentiment.

    “Seeing the growth in their confidence, whether it’s conducting face-to-face interviews or using a new piece of equipment, is very satisfying,” he said.

    Gaining practical experience with tools of the trade provides students with a leg up for when their studies are completed.

    “Nobody wants to hire an advisor who has no field experience,” Marshall said. “An exercise like this makes you more marketable as a person.”

    With days of working to develop useful skills came a sense of unity among participants on the department-wide trip.

    “At the end of the day, we were all reunited as a large group and it was nice to be together,” he said. “We had a few large outdoor gatherings around the fire pits and shared stories of our day. It gave us the opportunity to become a close-knit group and contributed to the closeness of the department as a whole.”

    The work of the students in the area has also led to lasting conservation efforts in the local community.

    “Because of the work of previous classes from Brock, the Lochlin Esker and Wetlands site we visited has achieved Provincially Significant Wetland and Area of Natural and Scientific Interest status,” he said.

    For Marshall, the most eye-opening portion of the week was seeing the way the concepts learned in the classroom actually existed in the environment.

    “You can read as much as you want on a topic, but until you’re actually looking at that feature or talking to those people, there is a huge divide between what the textbooks say and the actual observations you make in the field,” he said. “It really worked for me to help close that gap and approach things in a more well-rounded way.”

    As he prepares to use his newfound experience to take on a thesis and apply for master’s programs, Marshall hopes that others will consider studying Geography as well.

    “Geography is everything and how it’s related,” he said. “Anyone who likes nature, the environment or being outside already loves geography. So, why not study it as well?”

    Visit the department’s website to learn more about Brock University’s Geography and Tourism experiential opportunities.

    Reposted from The Brock News.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
    Categories: News

  • Opportunities abroad to be highlighted at International Mobility Fair

    A world of possibilities awaits students of Brock University.

    To highlight the learning opportunities available across the globe through the University’s partnerships, Brock International Services is hosting its annual International Mobility Fair on Wednesday, Oct. 24. from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Market Hall.

    “Students will learn about how they can travel abroad while earning academic credits, discover new cultures and gain skills relevant for today’s workforce,” said Sandra Gruosso, Associate Director of Brock International Services.

    Fourth-year Sport Management student Emma Chamberland first participated in the Exchange program last fall, attending Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden.

    “I chose to study abroad mainly because of my desire for adventure,” she said. “I wanted to enrich my university experience by doing something unique and outside of my comfort zone.”

    While shorter opportunities as little as one week are available, Chamberland loved the idea of living in a different country for an extended period of time and immersed herself in the local culture for a full term.

    “You learn about all the little things that make those places special,” she said.

    Having her courses taught in English also helped her to adapt without feeling overwhelmed.

    Chamberland loved the experience so much that she participated in another exchange just months later in early 2018, attending the University of South Australia in Adelaide.

    While Brock University students have access to more than 100 international partner institutions offering semester or full-year exchanges, short-term or summer programs, and internships, a dedicated team within Brock International Services guides students through the process to ensure they’re making the right decision.

    When Jonah Graham, a fourth-year BA Tourism and the Environment student, researched international mobility opportunities, his goal was to gain more relevant work experience.

    From May to December 2017, Graham participated in a six-month academic exchange and internship program offered through the University of Florida and Walt Disney World Resort.

    “The opportunity to learn about my field from a new perspective and experience working for a recognized member of my industry was invaluable,” he said.

    Graham was able to take courses in lodging operations and management, as well as an internship in leisure services, resort and destination development, and corporate communications.

    His Florida internship helped him see that his degree cannot be defined just by his time in the classroom, but as a compilation of his experiences throughout his studies.

    Both Chamberland and Graham agreed that studying abroad is a life-changing opportunity that broadened their horizons personally, academically and professionally.

    Reposted from The Brock News.

    Tags: , , , , , ,
    Categories: News

  • Students experience Ground Penetrating Radar demonstration

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to thank Sensors and Software Inc. for visiting our Physical Geography Field Course (GEOG 3P56) class on September 21, 2018 to host a demonstration on Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).

    After learning about GPR and its’ applications, our students headed outside to test the GPR unit around the Brock University campus. Here are a few photos from the class:

    Student using Ground Penetrating Radar technology in GEOG 3P56 course outside on a hill

    Tags: , ,
    Categories: News

  • Geography alumni share valuable insights with fourth-year internship students

    From left to right: Myda Khatcherian (BA Geography ’12, MA Geography ’15), Ebru Ustundag, Ashley Northcotte (BA Geography ’09), Edward Stubbing (BA Human Geography ’09), and Rebecca Anello (BSc Geography ’14).

    On September 21, four of our Geography alumni visited our honours internship course (GEOG/TOUR 4F99) to share their experiences in the program and the internship course, and life after university.

    Where are they now?

    • Myda Khatcherian, Case Manager, Ontario Works (BA Geography ’12, MA Geography ’15)
    • Edward Stubbing, Senior Transportation Manager, AECOM (BA Human Geography ’09)
    • Ashley Northcotte, Business Support Analyst, Niagara Region (BA Geography ’09)
    • Rebecca Anello, Junior Meteorological Technologist, Environment Canada (BSc Geography ’14)

    We’d like to extend a big thanks to Myda, Edward, Ashley, and Rebecca for coming back to Brock and sharing their valuable insights!

    Tags: , , , ,
    Categories: News

  • Learning from Vancouver landscapes

    Story from The Brock News

    Vancouver field course
    Brock student Anthony Montagano visited Vancouver’s Lions Gate Bridge during a weeklong Geography and Tourism field course in the city.

    Many students spend the spring and summer months completing extra courses or taking a well-deserved trip. Anthony Montagano did both — at the same time.

    The 20-year-old Niagara Falls native recently returned from a weeklong Geography and Tourism field course (GEOG/TOUR 3Q93) in Vancouver, B.C. The experiential learning opportunity brought a class of Brock University students to the city to learn about the historical geography of the region, as well as its social and cultural processes.

    For Montagano, the diversity of Vancouver’s landscape could not have been fully grasped in a classroom.

    “It’s good to hear about certain destinations, but to see things first-hand is really helpful,” said the second-year Tourism Management student. “It’s easier to identify common trends, like gentrification and high-density housing, and you can use your own observations rather than just lecture notes to help form an opinion.”

    Vancouver field course

    Brock student Anthony Montagano stopped at Vancouver’s Olympic cauldron
    during a weeklong Geography and Tourism field course in the city.

    This lesson was made clear when the group, which included students from each of Brock’s Faculties, encountered the diversity that Vancouver offers in its many neighbourhoods.

    “We travelled around to the different areas of Vancouver and determined what would cause the price of home ownership to go up or down, while also evaluating what services were available in each area,” Montagano said. “It was cool to see the urban core, Olympic sports venues and small fishing docks all within the same city.”

    While exploring Canada’s third-largest city, Montagano and his classmates were encouraged to learn about the social history of the region as well.

    “I was unaware of the tragic historical exploitation of the Asian communities in Vancouver,” he said. “I now understand a little more in history that many people may still be ignorant to.”

    Though the group was only together in Vancouver for eight days, Montagano learned that it was easier to bond with his classmates while outside of the lecture hall.

    “When you are in a new setting, you tend to make bonds right away,” he said. “I met some great friends and everyone got along really well.”

    In addition to the new friendships and cultural discovery that came with the trip, Montagano was also appreciative of other aspects of participating in a spring experiential field course.

    “I gained some great experience for my resumé and you can save some time by having to take less courses during the year,” he said.

    Now home, Montagano has finished a 12-page paper about his experiences to complete the course’s final assignment. The reflective exercise has helped him to share why others should participate in similar classes going forward.

    “I would really encourage people to consider these experiential field courses,” he said. “I know the trips might cost a bit more than a normal course, but now is the opportunity to travel and gain valuable experience at the same time. These courses will set you apart at Brock and help prepare you for your career.”

    Story from The Brock News
    June 15, 2018

    Tags: , , , ,
    Categories: News

  • Thanks to our 2017-18 internship employers


    Geography and Tourism Studies internship students on their final day of class with Dr. Chris Fullerton.

    The Department of Geography and Tourism Studies would like to thank the following employers who hired our students as interns for the 2017-18 school year:

    Open exclusively to majors in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies, the honours internship course (GEOG/TOUR 4F99) gives students credit for work experience in their last year of undergraduate studies.

    This year students secured a wide range of positions through a competitive application process. Examples of positions they held include: research assistant, program facilitator, field support technician, communications assistant, planning assistant, and more.

    The internship course is offered annually for fourth-year honours students studying geography or tourism at Brock University. If you are interested in hiring an internship student during the 2018-2019 school year, please contact Dr. Ebru Ustundag (eustundag@brocku.ca, 905-688-5550 x4417).

    Tags: , , , ,
    Categories: News