Assistant News Editor
As administrative committees start to blossom around the themes dictated in President Patrick Deane’s letter Forward with Integrity, various faculties and student groups are voicing their concerns.
Among the many, McMaster Humanities Society (MHS) hosted an open forum on Jan. 12 to discuss both the possibility of introducing experiential education into the faculty and general concerns within the given disciplines.
Unlike many faculties, Humanities lacks an experiential education component. Lisa Bifano, president of McMaster Humanities Society (MHS) and student representative for Humanities, stressed this as one of the main inciting factors for the forum itself.
“This project is something I took on as a part of my year plan for MHS president, as well as an SRA representative,” said Bifano. “My main priority as an SRA member and as the Humanities Society president is to ‘Put Student’s First,’ so I am constantly ensuring that my constituents are well represented and allowing them the opportunity to be involved.”
Experiential education does exactly that. Unlike many of the other typical education venues, experiential education offers an opportunity to engage in learning outside the confines of a classroom. Students involved in the program have often been provided with the advantage of internships, volunteer positions, and a variety of other experience-based learning opportunities. Considering that the Humanities faculty has yet to institute the option, there is great potential, especially if there is “a joint effort amongst all,” said Bifano.
The open forum acted as the beginnings of such a unified effort. Organized with the help of MHS VP Academic Heather Watson and SRA Humanities Tanya Kuzman, the event saw both faculty and students.
President Deane himself spoke at the event, as well as listened to the students as they gauged the possibility of experiential education.
Despite speaking only a week after the forum, Bifano claimed that concrete action is being felt. “I am pleased to say that I have been approached on several occasions by students and faculty members.” She added further that, “A few points that were raised in the discussion are being further examined.”
One of these is the fear of unemployment after graduation. While it is true that such a fear is pervasive to all faculties, it could be argued, and often has, that unemployment directly affects humanities students. The diatribe of, “What do I need humanities for? I’m already a human” are all too common. Although not saying exactly that, students were concerned about their future perspectives.
Bifano couldn’t disagree with such a stigma and concern in humanities. “Our faculty is so diverse in that each discipline can lead a student down a different path, as opposed to other programs.”
As it stands, the forum tied the two together. Experiential education would utilize this breadth of options offered by the Humanities faculty in unique ways that have not been done before.