GUELPH, Ontario - August 19, 2013 - University of Guelph News Release - The University of Guelph’s commitment to civic learning and community engagement was recognized today by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), a U.S.-based association with 13,000 member schools in 29 countries.
NASPA has selected Guelph to participate in a national initiative on civic learning and democratic engagement. The Lead initiative designation recognizes schools that have committed to making civic learning and democratic engagement a priority in their undergraduate programs.
Guelph is the only Canadian university among 73 schools selected this year and is one of only two international universities named; Tecnologico de Monterrey of Mexico is the other. As a Lead institution, the university will offer its support and advice to institutions who wish to engage more fully in this endeavor.
Maureen Mancuso, U of G provost and vice-president (academic) says the recognition affirms the University’s commitment to making a difference locally and globally.
“At Guelph, we are committed to focusing on the education and development of thoughtful compassionate and principled graduates who will lead the way as engaged citizens in our local neighbourhoods, as ethical leaders across Canada, and as global stewards around the world. The future of our democracy depends on this approach,” she said.
“We use initiatives and academic programming to increase civic learning and help solve local problems. We view university as not being an insular experience, in a bubble, but as being something that reaches out beyond our campus, helping students learn and grow as people, scholars and citizens.”
In addition to the numerous courses that embed service learning in the curriculum, the U of G offers a series of co-curricular programs to help students engage with the City of Guelph. Examples include Project Serve, where students volunteer with local organizations; YoU in Guelph, where students engage in local issues; and Skip a Meal, where students donate money from their meal plans to support social organizations. U of G students also participate in Trick or Eat, donning costumes and going door to door on Halloween to collect non-perishable food items for local food banks. In 2012, Guelph had 1,300 Trick or Eat participants who collected 36,000 pounds of food, the most of any school in Canada.
The university also partners with community agencies to offer students internships and service-learning experiences. Departments such as U of G’s Centre for Business and Social Entrepreneurship and the Research Shop look for innovative solutions to economic, social and environmental problems, providing students with applicable learning opportunities while contributing to the local community.
Brenda Whiteside, associate vice-president (student affairs), said the award validates the university’s commitment to civic learning.
“Being recognized as a national leader in this field is a reflection of the quality of our current efforts and also our ongoing commitment to inspiring students to challenge themselves through leadership and service roles moving forward.”