Discovery: U of R's 2020-2025 Strategic Plan Series, Part 2 of 6
Posted: July 21, 2020 3:00 p.m.
Empowering education gives U of R students the skills and confidence to make a positive impact in the world around them. Photo: U of R Photography
The University of Regina's commitment to Discovery is the first of five interconnected Areas of Focus in its newly released 2020-2025 Strategic Plan kahkiyaw kiwâhkomâkâninawak -- All Our Relations.
Divided into three overarching objectives - Excellence in Teaching and Research, Student Success, and Internationalization - Discovery lays out the key aspects needed to bolster and strengthen the academic successes and careers of U of R students, faculty, and staff, as well as create impact within communities in Saskatchewan, Canada, and worldwide.
"For me, Discovery - the intersection of teaching, research, and creative works - reveals the possibility of learning. It is at the heart of our being at the University of Regina," says Dr. david Gregory, Interim Provost and Vice-President (Academic). "Relationship is the life-force of Discovery and as such warrants authentic, respectful, and healthy connections among all members of our community, including students, faculty, staff, and administrators."
|Combining teaching, research and
creative works, 'Discovery' is the
first of the U of R's 5 Areas of
Focus in its 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.
Credit: U of R
Beyond the classroom - in fieldwork, internships, performances, and academic exchanges - experiential learning takes place and creates new opportunities for discovery infused with the lived experiences of both teacher and student. As a result, the University's focus on experiential learning better prepares students for life and work - adding to Saskatchewan's economy and contributing to building a better quality of life for people and communities.
For decades, the University has been building a strong reputation for providing high-quality, career-focused educational opportunities to bolster student success. Programs such as the Co-operative Education and Internships program, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in December 2019, and the UR Guarantee program, which began in 2009 to help students become career-ready, blazed new trails in experiential learning in Western Canada.
"My co-op placement has allowed me to view my academic career from a different perspective," says Zakiyyah Noorally, a U of R computer science student who is currently completing an eight-month co-op work term with the Information Technology Services Branch in the Government of Saskatchewan as a Junior Business Analyst. "I can now not only understand the difference between university and actual workplace experience, but I can also view the importance of the academic theories and lessons of what we are taught. Being able to apply my academic knowledge is a great pleasure."
"Through Discovery, our Strategic Plan builds on the strengths of these programs by actively supporting faculty and student recruitment and retention," adds Dr. Gregory. "Importantly, we teach and support students to think critically, to engage in ethical reasoning, to understand their worlds and the worlds of others, and to actively contribute to the betterment of society - including their potential work environments."
A diverse and inclusive environment will assist in attracting and retaining teachers and researchers to the University's faculties and units, building on the U of R's existing areas of national expertise, such as the Canadian Institute for Public Safety and Research Treatment (CIPSRT), the Clean Energy Technology Research Institute (CETRI), and the Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Communities (IEESC), while seeking opportunities for new collaboration with other academics and institutions globally.
Equally important, the area of Discovery also involves creating an environment that values and supports diverse ways of being and knowing supported by the University's commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).
"The University is committed to attracting diversity in its faculties and students full-stop," stresses Dr. Kathleen McNutt, Vice-President of Research. "When we talk about creating a diverse learning environment, it's not just about a diversity of culture, it's also about encouraging a diversity of people's lived experiences, such as gender and sexually diverse individuals and persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, and visibilities minorities - people who bring different knowledge systems to research."
|Beyond the classroom - in fieldwork
internships, performances, and
academic exchanges - experiential
learning takes place and creates new
opportunities for discovery.
Photo: U of R Faculty of Media, Art
"Monoculture can limit and constrain our potential within society," adds Dr. McNutt. "Bringing together a diversity of knowledge, expertise, and experiences enriches students' learning and heightens the impact of their contributions to the world in both research and the skills they bring to the workforce, whether they are studying at the U of R as first-time students or as mature students who are immigrating to Saskatchewan with advanced learning from their home countries."
All of this diversity of people and perspectives is not only good for the University, it provides a significant benefit for the entire province - attracting more people to Saskatchewan and creating a workforce that is dynamic, highly-skilled, and resourceful.
As a comprehensive, mid-sized university, the U of R has the agility to implement a plan for Discovery that faculties, staff, and supporting units can adapt and align with their individual goals in teaching, research, administration, and experiential learning. Through the Discovery Area of Focus, the Plan encourages campus-wide engagement in interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and transdisciplinary projects within the U of R, with other institutions, and with communities.
"In its role advancing Saskatchewan, it's essential that the U of R is meeting students where they're at - whether they wish to study in their home communities throughout Saskatchewan, on our main or satellite campuses, or from a country thousands of miles away," stresses Dr. McNutt. "With the guidance of our new strategic plan, the University will help tailor education, enhancing flexible learning and distance learning options to meet students' needs; and, by working with communities, we'll discover solutions to local challenges and issues."
Removing the barriers to discovery, solving problems through intensive research and partnerships with government, industry, and community - means creating opportunities to move research towards viability, commercialization, and job creation within Saskatchewan.
Discovery provides the entree into Strategic Plan, but it does not exist on its own.
"Discovery is fundamentally about people - about all the members of our community," says Dr. Gregory. "To gather respectfully, in relationship, and to discover, means we concurrently commit to: Truth & Reconciliation and forging new relationships with all of our Indigenous community members, and to honouring and integrating Indigenous ways of knowing; Well-being & Belonging whereby all members of our community live, work, and play in an inclusive environment, supported in their efforts to live healthily; Environment and Climate Action that respects the future of the planet; and, the need to foster positive Impact & Identity with our communities."
Over the next five years, each member of the University, singularly and within community, has the opportunity and responsibility to transform the Strategic Plan from a single textual dimension on paper into a three-dimensional living Plan.
This article is the second in a six-part series on the University of Regina's 2020-2025 Strategic Plan kahkiyaw kiwâhkomâkâninawak -- All Our Relations. In the next article, we'll look at Area 2 of the 5 Areas of Focus: Truth & Reconciliation.
For more on the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, visit www.uregina.ca/strategic-plan/.