Geographers Without Borders strives to be the bridge connecting geographers with communities that require the application of specialized skills and expertise in geography. Members of GWB have an opportunity to apply their skills and expertise in geography to forge stronger connections with local and global communities. In doing so, members gain professional development skills that they can apply to all aspects of their personal and professional lives, while making meaningful contributions to the social and economic livelihoods of their communities. As a nascent organization that seeks a national membership anchored at university geography departments across Canada, there is an opportunity to formally designate specific university and college Geography courses that fit with overall aims of GWB.
What is the benefit of having a Geographers Without Borders course or designation?
Many students find it beneficial to integrate their learning with applied experience and appreciate opportunities to develop professional skills. GWB courses and course endorsements, will help students identify which courses will provide them with community engagement and professional development opportunities. The designation will also help departments advertise and recruit students looking for experiential learning opportunities. A set of GWB courses could lead to program pathways that increase community engagement, while also connecting students with a national network of GWB mentors and student members.
GWB Project Course will typically be capstone course, with GWB in the course name, which focuses on project-based learning and community engagement. Ideally, the project will have community partners that bring a research or community need that the students can respond through their course work. Students will have an opportunity to engage and collaborate with community partners and in doing so will apply their academic skills in a professional setting. Typically, student projects will be shared with the national GWB community through posters, videos, presentations, or social media. A faculty sponsor must recommend the course for designation as a GWB course. The course must be project-based, include active engagement of community partners, and provide a summary report to GWB.
GWB Endorsed Course
GWB Endorsed Course will typically be an existing course where a component of the course focuses on community engagement learning activities. For instance, GWB can endorse a GIS courses if the course work includes a final project with a community partner. Course endorsement can highlight to students the wide variety of courses that have a component of community engagement and opportunities for professional development. Students in courses endorsed by GWB will also be invited to share projects with the regional and national GWB communities. A faculty sponsor must recommend the course for designation as a GWB-endorsed course. The course must be project-based, include active engagement of community partners, and provide a summary report to GWB.
While the mechanism of endorsement in the academic calendar will likely vary by institution, the principles of GWB project courses and GWB endorsed courses will serve to act as a marketing tool for courses with strong community components, propel the development of new community-based courses, and create meaningful and high impact learning experiences for students.
Community partners should bring projects that help to better society. Typically, non-profit organizations and government agencies will be suitable project partners. It is possible that industry may also be a partner as long as they are not gaining financially from the work being done by students. In many cases it may be beneficial to have multiple community partners and or to include industry partners interested in mentoring students conducting the work. Such projects can also be integrated with research collaborations with community and industrial organizations.
To apply to have GWB course or an existing course endorsed by GWB a course description and one page letter should sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The letter should include:
- · The name of the primary course instructor (A Geographers Without Borders member).
- · Examples of community partners and course projects.
- · Whether the request is for a Project Course or Endorsed Course designation.
- · A brief description of how the course helps to bridge connecting geographers with communities and provide professional development opportunities to students.
- · In the case of an existing course being considered for GWB endorsement, the percentage for the course associated with the community project should be included.
As GWB is a new organization, resources will grow over time, but will likely include:
- · Social networking tools for course developers (list serves, forums, etc.)
- · Access to previous project outputs.
- · Contact information for GWB mentors and community partners that have expressed interest in GWB projects.