Learner-Centered Global Learning Program Recruitment: Harnessing the power of peer engagement through an Access & Inclusion-focused co-op placement

One best practice for introducing new student audiences to global learning opportunities is to meet them where they are: in residences, club and affinity group meeting spaces, rehearsal, practice, social event and other community building spaces. Data collected in a survey of 2,000 UCalgary students identify financial means, access to information and the need for human-to-human guidance as three of the main barriers to participating in experiential learning activities at the University of Calgary. These findings demonstrate that who conducts outreach to students and in student spaces matters. Study abroad programs have positive outcomes for all students and research finds that outcomes are particularly positive for student groups historically underrepresented in higher education (Finlel and McNair 2013).

Goal 2 of University of Calgary’s Global Engagement Plan (2020) is to improve intercultural capacity of the campus community. Since traditional study abroad is marked by structural privilege, we know that to provide access to global learning, we must increase outreach to and support of students who are historically excluded from study abroad. Our target is for 50% of UCalgary students to graduate with a global learning experience, abroad or at home. In order to meet this goal and develop more thorough marketing and individualized pre-departure support mechanisms, UCI proposes the development of a 12-month co-op placement focused on developing and implementing these access and inclusion initiatives (Program Assistant, Access & Inclusion).

By piloting a co-op role within UCalgary International, our team is testing a new approach to preparing students with individualized student needs by providing a dedicated resource to focus on increasing awareness and participation by targeted student groups as well as relatable peer-to-peer support during their pre-departure experience. This position (to our knowledge) doesn’t exist at any other institutions in Canada. Partnering internally with the Taylor Institute by actioning their research and externally with global partners renowned for their support services, we will address the funding gap for students using meaningful and sustainable (and already existing) resources.

The funding will be allocated for a co-op student position through the Faculty of Arts Co-operative Education Program over a 12-month period. It will also contribute to marketing materials, spaces and promotional strategies that are based on inclusive access practices.

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Strengthening Canada’s Global Skills: Our submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance Pre-budget Consultations in Advance of Budget 2024

The program has equipped a new generation of students, from all backgrounds, with global skills necessary to meet Canada’s ever evolving labour market needs. It is now time to make the program a permanent part of Canada’s skills strategy and approach to international education.