Gone are the days when continuing education means classrooms, books and tests to pore over. Brock has launched an initiative that offers a new take on lifelong learning, where people have a chance to explore, meet their neighbours and speak their minds.
Rather than the usual types of programming — like learning a new language or enhancing your accounting skills — the goal of Community Learning is conversations and an exchange of ideas in the community.
“Think of it as Continuing Education 2.0,” said Kate Cassidy, director of Community Learning.
Rather than traditional lectures and classrooms, Community Learning creates “inclusive learning opportunities where people think, explore and connect with others,” she said.
There are three program streams.
- Conversation Cafés are hosted conversations held in cafés across Niagara. Discussions questions include: “Technology: a blessing or curse?,” “Can business be profitable and socially responsible?,” and “What can adults really learn from children?”
- Adventures in Community are short learning adventures designed to expose people to new experiences, people and interesting aspects of where they live. They include events like hiking, GPS adventures and family video making.
- The OneWorld Project is an on-going round-table series that looks closely at concepts of global citizenship, social justice and sustainability. This terms’ presentation is “Media Literacy: Reading between the Lines.”
Continuing education at universities is going through a sort of identity crisis, said Murray Knuttila, Provost and Vice-President, Academic. Globalization and technology are having a big impact on education and the production of knowledge.
“As a result of this trend, universities need to re-think their roles in society and how they deliver their continuing education and traditional programming,” he said.
“In order to remain relevant, we need to provide citizens and students with critical-thinking and community-building skills that foster curiosity and a culture of learning.”
Brock’s Community Learning events are either free or cost a nominal fee. They are offered at venues throughout Niagara.
“I love the concept of taking a topic and having people, young and old, come together to discuss,” says Claudia Valle, a St. Catharines resident who attended a Conversation Café on alternative medicine. “I walked away having challenged some thoughts and beliefs that I had come in with and the entire process engaged my brain and got me thinking.”