NEWS & RESOURCES
Public Engagement Work
The Institute for Child and Youth Studies (I-CYS) is hosting the 3rd annual At the Intersections of Childhood Symposium bringing together a group of interdisciplinary scholars, both in the academic and private sectors, whose work lies at one of the intersections of youth, children, and museums. This is a general theme where topics including but not limited to, children’s education, archaeology, anthropology, and history can be connected to the wider theme of how we teach the past. The symposium will take place at the Galt Museum and Archives located in downtown Lethbridge on April 8, 2019.
The Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources at the University of Manitoba awarded the Award of Excellence for First Year Undergraduate Teaching to Ann Marie F. Murnaghan for her work in Introduction to Human Geography. The student nominee for this award described Dr. Murnaghan's teaching style as fun and engaging, bringing popular culture examples to abstract theories.
For decades critical human geographers have been doing research in the communities in which they live and work. While community based research and community engagement are buzzwords in contemporary higher education and research-funding discourses, the sentiment of scholars being in the world ties us to a long lineage of teaching and research influenced by ideas of social justice. The geographer’s unique perspective on issues of spatial justice are particularly useful in an increasingly neoliberalized and polarized world.
Over the last three years, the Social Geography of the Environment course led by Dr. Ann Marie Murnaghan (Department of Environment and Geography) has collaborated with Food Matters Manitoba to bring the social geographer’s skills in census analysis and the environmentalist’s interest in supporting and growing local food systems. With vital support from Anna Weier (M. Environment, 2008) and Stefan Epp-Koop, the class conducted fieldwork in grocery stores to compare the costs of nutritious food with the needs of the community residents. This year the project has expanded to produce resource brochures supporting local food systems, and analyses of the National Household Survey in Winnipeg supporting FMM’s Downtown Food Assessment, led by Julie Rempel.
In the Urban Geography course, Dr. Murnaghan and her class have conducted safety audits and provided results to the City of Winnipeg and Campus Security. Students have highlighted issues and concerns about geographies of fear, and taken critical perspectives on crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED). This year, the group is partnering with Jackie Avent and Anders Swanson of Active and Safe Routes to School, a project of Green Action Centre, to help with data collection and analysis finding baselines and community needs in Fort Richmond, Wildwood, and the West End. The class’s reports will influence policy makers to help parents, children, and communities become more active in their transportation and commuting methods.
The City of Winnipeg is an excellent laboratory for social and urban geographies; it’s a historical place, with a palpable legacy of struggles for social justice. In the age of Wikipedia, Dr. Murnaghan thinks teaching students how to apply their knowledge and critique the world becomes our real challenge.
My teaching fosters student success by engaging students in the course material using short videos, iClickers, hands on research in the community, and small group discussion. These tactics expose students to contemporary social issues, allow them to evaluate community projects, and present them with space to critique the world using a social justice lens. In my Urban Geography course I foreground the importance of mixed methods using assignments and field trips where the students are conduct primary research in and around Winnipeg. These assignments, for example safety audits, have been used by the University and City of Winnipeg to improve their service provision and give students a broader audience to their research. Students in my Social Geography of the Environment class work with Food Matters Manitoba in their on the ground research on inequities in urban food provision. My pedagogical approach stresses the interconnections between research and teaching, starting with critical thinking and encouraging creativity. I think of my students as co-researchers who can question (and strengthen) my theoretical approaches, and give fresh insights to my empirical case studies. Students who are appreciated in the classroom are bound to achieve great successes in their learning.