Experiential Learning at Carleton: Equipping Tomorrow’s Leaders with Real-World Skills

By Carleton University Modified on March 13, 2024
Tags : Academics | Business | Campus Life | News | Student POV

Carleton provides experiential learning opportunities for students to gain practical skills that prepare them to tackle real-world challenges.

 Experiential Learning at Carleton: Equipping Tomorrow’s Leaders with Real-World Skills

Carleton University is at the forefront of embracing experiential learning, recognizing its vital role in shaping well-rounded and competent graduates. Through a commitment to hands-on experiences such as co-op programs, extra-curriculars, travel opportunities, and multi-disciplinary research projects, Carleton ensures that students gain practical skills that prepare them to tackle real-world challenges.

Check out a few of the ways students have taken part in experiential learning opportunities at Carleton:

Combining business and design to serve communities

Troy Anderson’s and Rob Smart’s course in the Sprott School of Business looks quite different than the usual business course. Through the fourth-year business course, Developing Creative Thinking, students from business, industrial design, and other disciplines team up to develop solutions to community problems. The groups are assigned to a community in Masset, British Columbia; Longido, Tanzania; or Mayo, Yukon — where they travel at some point during the academic year.

“Students learn a number of things from this experience — cross-cultural communication, being able to understand multiple perspectives to a problem, and how to manage change,” says Anderson. “Any solution to any problem involves change.”

Projects students have been tasked with in past years have ranged from fuel shortage solutions, clean drinking water, and air quality, to helping launch local business ventures, such as a skateboard manufacturing and e-commerce business led by local Indigenous youth. This past year, the course partnered with Carleton Athletics, raising funds to build a community basketball court in Longido.

For business student James Queen who took the course last year, the problem was soil enhancement in Longido. “This village in Longido doesn’t get much rain, making it hard for them to grow crops and food,” Queen explains. “We essentially had to think of a way to create water out of thin air.”

Queen and his partner came up with the idea for DewPoint — a water irrigation system that uses charcoal to gather water from the air’s moisture and bottom up watering plants. “The device is designed to be implemented in community gardens,” Queen says.

Once students have their designs in place, the focus turns to the business plan — where to get the supplies, how to pay for them, and what is economically sustainable for the community. The multidisciplinary nature of the course allows students from different disciplines to learn from one another.

Learn more about the innovative business course here.

Digging for ancient artifacts around the world

Students in Greek and Roman Studies apply the study of archaeology outside the classroom through archaeological fieldwork, whether that be an excavation or an archaeological survey. Students receive academic credit for participating in a field school at several sites based in Italy, Greece, Belize, and Canada for three weeks or more. They work full-time at the sites alongside archeologists, researchers in the field, and post-doctoral students.

Jessie Nelson, a third-year Greek and Roman Studies student double majoring in Law, attended last summer’s excavation at the ancient Latin city of Gabii in Italy with program coordinator Laura Banducci and her peers. The Gabii Project is run as an archaeological field school for students interested in learning state-of-the-art excavation, study, and recording techniques.

The experience opened my eyes to the environment I want to work in. You handle a lot of historical material like 3000-year-old pottery and it’s impressive to see how much you’re able to excavate. I got to connect with experts in archeology and professionals from different disciplines with different perspectives,” she says.

Nelson is also working on an I-CUREUS (Internship-Carleton University Research Experience for Undergraduate Students) project with Banducci that plans to create 3D renderings of artefacts found at Gabii to be displayed in a virtual reality space or “travel museum” for the public to experience.

The program offers a number of travel bursaries and scholarships for students to help cover costs. Charlotte Parry, who graduated from the Greek and Roman Studies program in 2023, was among the first cohort of students awarded funds from Banducci’s Early Researcher Award to be a part of The Gabii Project excavations.

“The methods and techniques in Italian archeology are applicable to the Canadian cultural heritage landscape. Learning to handle and describe artifacts, as well as excavate and put them in a database are what museums and archeological sites in Ontario need to know,” says Banducci.

Learn more about doing archaeological fieldwork for credit at Carleton here.

Taking climate action through permafrost training

What happens in the North, doesn’t stay in the North” according to climate change researchers. With rising global temperatures, thawing permafrost in Canada’s northwest will have drastic climate impacts. Funded by the Natural Sciences Engineering Research Council’s Collaborative Research and Training program (NSERC CREATE), Carleton’s LEAP program aims to train tomorrow’s Leaders in Permafrost thaw and northern research.

If a student is interested in permafrost research, in working in Canada’s North, or gaining skills closely related to the North, this would be a program they would be interested in,” says Jenna Snelgrove, the program’s coordinator.

The LEAP program trains and provides research funding to graduate students who will work alongside co-applicants or partnered universities across Canada on permafrost science and research. Undergraduate students are also welcome to apply for unfunded research opportunities alongside the program’s co-grantee and collaborators, which they can use to complete their thesis.

Students receive weekly synchronous online training, engaging in panel discussions with partnered organizations and experts. This educational program focuses on fostering understanding of interactions in the Northern environment and applying research techniques in the field This technical training will culminate with a field school in the North, allowing students to visit different permafrost sites, conduct field work, and work on projects to address Northern-identified needs. It will also provide students with the opportunity to present research to Northern and Indigenous community members.

Learning to work together in a multidisciplinary field with communities to meet Northern needs is an important part of this work and program.”

Learn more about CREATE LEAP here.

These are only a handful of the stories of happy students who have used experiential learning at Carleton to add more to their degrees and become competitive job applicants. What experiential learning opportunities will you choose to enhance your degree?

Read about more experiential learning opportunities at Carleton University

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