Dr. Jessica Riddell
Jarislowsky Chair and Executive Director of the Maple League of Universities
EXTRAORDINARY STUDENT EXPERIENCES
The inter-orientation of the classroom and the broader community fosters an enriched sense of curiosity and creativity in our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. In the past decade I have sought to make the walls of the classroom permeable and extend important theoretical questions into public spaces. In 2011 my ENG223 Shakespeare class prosecuted Shakespeare for fraud in a Canadian Criminal Court. In Fall 2016 I developed a trial project that prosecuted Satan (from John Milton’s 17th century Protestant Epic Paradise Lost) for Crimes Against Humanity in our senior seminar on Seventeenth-Century Poetry and Prose (ENG321).
Humanities students are uniquely equipped to thrive in a rapidly changing 21st century economy, but sometimes they do not realize how their course of study builds competencies in writing, analysis, comprehension, and critical thinking skills developed that are highky valued in the workplace. Therefore, I developed new courses that are problem-based and explore experiential learning through the lens of the humanities, including ENG454 Experiential Learning Course on Podcasts, ENG456 Communications, ENG457: Magazine editing and Publishing, and ENG459: Public Scholarship in Editing and Publishing. These new interventions combine research on teaching and learning – with a focus on active and authentic learning – with the disciplinary concepts of English in order to create rich and innovative experiential learning environments.
Finally, Shakesperience (a course I developed in 2016 and have run annually) immerses students in the full experience of theatre, combining time spent in the classroom with a road trip to the renowned Stratford Festival. This blends the best of page and stage, and encourages a deep engagement with the Stratford Festival as a cultural, educational, and economic institution.
Open to all Maple League students, this course is a model of experiential learning in the humanities. Students travel to the renowned Stratford Theatre Festival in Stratford, Ontario to see six plays, participate in dance and stage-combat workshops, tour behind-the-scenes stages, dress up in vintage costumes in the vast costume warehouse, and meet with cast members, education associates, dramaturges, and academic directors. This all-access backstage pass enables students to view theatre through multiple lenses, which underscores the deeply collaborative nature of art-making and community-building.
SHAKESPERIENCE - ENG225
Shakesperience is an immersive learning experience that turns the Stratford Festival, in Stratford, Ontario, into our classroom. This is an intensive field study course designed to take students on a deep dive to understand the inner workings of North America's largest repertory theatre.
INTERNATIONAL UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH CONFERENCE
The mission of Heart & Soul is to enable students and professors from across Canada to connect and share their research in a comfortable, collaborative environment that fosters the pursuit of knowledge and the love of learning. This is a chance to network, build connections, and encounter different world-views and perspectives all while highlighting undergraduate academia and scholarship.