Media Releases

New course engages students in citizenship and connects them to Toronto

October 13, 2011

TORONTO, ON – Cit­i­zen­ship in the Cana­di­an City – a stream in Uni­ver­si­ty College’s new UC One pro­gram – aims to con­nect first-year stu­dents to the Toron­to com­mu­ni­ty.

Led by Emi­ly Gilbert of the col­lege’s Cana­di­an Stud­ies pro­gram, the stream will include guest fac­ul­ty lec­tur­ers, tours around the city and dis­cus­sion on issues fac­ing Toron­to.

“Some of the stu­dents are quite active in polit­i­cal ways but not ways we asso­ciate with vot­ing, more activism behind the scenes,” says Gilbert. “I’m real­ly inter­est­ed in that dis­con­nect, why young peo­ple feel that they aren’t get­ting val­ue from vot­ing or why they don’t feel they’re rep­re­sent­ed.”

The stream hopes to offer an oppor­tu­ni­ty for stu­dents to look at what is unfold­ing in the world right before their eyes and how they can get involved in the future.

“No mat­ter what they do, I hope they have some sort of polit­i­cal aware­ness,” says Gilbert. “I’d love for them to be able to fos­ter that deep think­ing and engage­ment in prob­lem solv­ing, which is what I think cit­i­zen­ship should cap­ture, not just ‘I’m going to tick this box for this can­di­date,’ but being direct­ly engaged with the world.”

Stu­dents will get acquaint­ed with the city and how they feel to be a part of it through issues such as pri­va­cy and safe spaces. They will tack­le the ques­tion of ‘who belongs?’, the idea of pri­or­i­ty neigh­bour­hoods, what it means to iden­ti­fy parts of the city as needy or down­trod­den and what it means to have a new may­or who is approach­ing these sit­u­a­tions dif­fer­ent­ly from his pre­de­ces­sor. Gilbert says they’ll be think­ing crit­i­cal­ly on ques­tions such as what kind of city do I live in, what kind of shape is it tak­ing, where do I fit in that city and where can I get involved?

UC One fol­lows the suc­cess­ful begin­nings of Vic One and Trin­i­ty One. It also fea­tures three oth­er streams, Sex in the City, Per­form­ing Toron­to and Gra­di­ents of Health & Well­be­ing in an Urban Mosa­ic. In the first semes­ter, all four streams are joined as one gen­er­al lec­ture for the 100 stu­dents and then after lunch, 25 stu­dents go into their sep­a­rate sem­i­nars for the stream they chose. Sec­ond semes­ter will just be the four streams as sep­a­rate sem­i­nars.

To date, there have been a cou­ple guest lec­tur­ers from the fac­ul­ty. Phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor Mark King­well, who co-authored one of the class text­books, Rites of Way: The Pol­i­tics and Poet­ics of Pub­lic Space, spoke about issues he raised in the text such as the neces­si­ty for a broad, con­tem­pla­tive edu­ca­tion, in which stu­dents stop to explore and engage with the world around them. He also spoke on how impor­tant his engage­ment with the city was to his devel­op­ment as a crit­i­cal thinker and cit­i­zen. Dean Mer­ic Gertler, who is a geo­g­ra­ph­er, addressed the idea that cities such as Toron­to are made more liv­able because of a uni­ver­si­ty (for its peo­ple and inno­va­tion), while a uni­ver­si­ty also draws from a city to dri­ve its knowl­edge and inno­va­tion. He spoke about eco­nom­ic impor­tance of the uni­ver­si­ty to the city to gen­er­ate inno­va­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty, with respect to income brought in by exter­nal grants and con­trib­u­tors dri­ving the “knowl­edge econ­o­my” through inno­va­tion and part­ner­ships. Camil­la Gibb, a Bark­er Fair­ley dis­tin­guished alum­nus vis­i­tor to Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege, spoke about her edu­ca­tion at U of T, her writ­ing and what life is like after uni­ver­si­ty.


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Emi­ly Gilbert
Cana­di­an Stud­ies
Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to

Jes­si­ca Lewis
Fac­ul­ty of Arts & Sci­ence
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to