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By Barbara M. Reul, Editor
It’s time for another issue of Impetus! As a liberal arts college rooted in Christian spirituality and a partner in post-secondary education with the University of Regina, five key principles inform our teaching and research in the arts, fine arts, and sciences at Luther College: commitment to global citizenship; engagement in social justice; pursuit of a sustainable environment; demonstration of high ethical standards; and continuous reflection on values.
In this issue I invite you to view Luther College’s key principles with me through the lens of teaching. It is our highest priority at Luther College, as the following pedagogical activities detail: the possibility of a Foundations Programme (our future); a new certificate spearheaded by Luther College’s Volunteer Sector Studies Network (VSSN) (our present); and the history of “teaching circles” (our ongoing past). We close with more “Stories from the Podium” as requested by you, our faithful readers.
Helping students make a successful transition to university has always been important to us. In an effort to understand how Luther College can make even more of a difference in this regard, Steven Clow carried out research over the course of several months in 2016. His article “Laying the Groundwork: Developing a Foundations Programme for Luther College at the University of Regina“ emphasizes that foundations programmes as well as learning communities – called Bundles/Bundles Plus at Luther College, with English-Science being our longest running and most successful one to date – “are not attempts at remedial education, but rather intentional and explicit efforts to model university-level learning as early in the students’ academic careers as is possible.”
The VSSN at Luther College is a “multidisciplinary, community-university collaborative, comprising students, the voluntary/nonprofit sector and faculty/staff”, notes its coordinator, Jennifer Billan. Her contribution highlights that learning, researching, and innovating are essential components in the new certificate in Nonprofit Sector Leadership & Innovation and its pedagogy. Did you know that VSSN received a top international award in Education for Sustainable Development from Tokyo’s United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability in May 2016?
Ever since coming to Luther College in 2003, I have faithfully attended our “teaching circles” which take place at least once during every fall and winter semester. What are they, and who came up with the idea in the first place? I turned to Dr. Bryan Hillis, our current president and former academic dean, for answers, and I agree with him that teaching is as much a vocation as it is an ongoing labour of love.
Thank you for your positive feedback on the “Stories from the Podium” that premiered in our last issue. It inspired me to ask for six “More Stories from the Podium”: our art historian, Dr. Francesco Freddolini, goes back to his undergraduate days in Italy; our president, Dr. Bryan Hillis, recalls his early days as a freshly minted Ph.D.; Dr. Mary Vetter, our biologist, who will retire on June 30, 2017, describes the difference team teaching has made in her classroom; Jed LaCoste and Dr. Susan Weir, two long-time sessional instructors at LCUR, managed to bring me to tears and make me laugh, respectively. Finally, a former student and recipient of the 2015 Luther Medal of Distinction, Mikyla Jensen, describes the amazing impact a certain English professor-poet had on her life as a university student and beyond. Should you ever feel compelled to ponder your own “Story from the Podium”, please share it with me, barbara.reul (at) uregina.ca.
In closing I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this issue, especially the authors. I am once again grateful to Michelle Clark (Manager of Alumni Relations, Development & Communications and Editor of the Luther Story) and, in particular, Amber Peters (Alumni Relations, Development & Communications Assistant). As our resident “editorial make-up artist” and bonafide “online magician”, she makes all of us look the best we can.