Experiential Learning at its finest with CityStudio London
April 1, 2020
CityStudio London is a new initiative that connects post-secondary intuitions with City of London staff to co-create applied projects and work towards a better city for all. King’s University College joined the initiative in its first year with five CityStudio courses in a variety of disciplines, including Social Justice and Peace Studies/Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, and Disability Studies. Students who take these courses are matched with city staff, learn about current issues in the city, and apply their knowledge and skills to research and implement creative solutions for civic issues. Of the seventeen projects that presented at the Virtual Hubbub event, five were contributed by King's students.
Social Justice and Peace Studies/Political Science offered the course, “Women in Civic Leadership”, where female students are paired with female civic leaders as mentors to learn about barriers facing women who wish to participate in civic leadership and how those barriers could be overcome. This is to address the fact that women continue to be underrepresented in civic leadership. The city project they worked on is called “Women’s Safety in the Parks and Paths”, to ensure that women’s voices are included in the development of parks and pathways policies in London.
Sociology offered two CityStudio courses this year. “Qualitative Research Methods” taught students how to develop research skills via participant interviewing and observation, data collection, and theory building. Their project, “Waste Collection by-law Violations in Student Neighbourhoods”, addressed high rates of littering in student neighbourhoods. “Building Healthy Communities” is the other Sociology course that taught students about health equity and social determinants of health based on health policy in Canada. Their project, “Healthcare Provider Engagement Strategy to Implement Child Literacy Program”, aimed to improve literacy outcomes in children and youth.
"The students were very keen to reach attainable solutions," says Agata Piekosz of the Department of Sociology.
Psychology offered a course called, “Survey Design and Construction” to teach students about psychological measurement and assessment in a community context. Their project, “Social Housing Client Profile Survey”, was created to better understand the needs of residents in social housing.
Lastly, Disability Studies offered a course called, “Changing Context and Practices” to introduce students to policies and practices in the human services and modern disability sector. Their project, “The City of London’s Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Plan”, aims to use a disabilities lens to work towards an inclusive and supportive workplace culture in the City of London.
Michaeline Falla, a 4th year student in Thanatology and Disability Studies, spoke of her enriching learning experience with CityStudio, "I was presented with the opportunity to apply my learning to real life challenges, such as London’s Accommodation of Employees with Disabilities policy, in which I was able to critique this existing policy. As a result of applying my own innovation to create real change in the community, I believe that from my policy analysis, I have created a direct and positive impact on people living with disabilities in London."
Students who take CityStudio courses gain valuable skills through their exposure to current real-world issues which enables them to understand the work that is needed in the world. This assists them with workplace knowledge and concepts to examine after graduation. The work that they do simulates the work they could do as working professionals. They also have the opportunity to tap into a larger network of working professionals, which puts them at an advantage. As such, these CityStudio courses are the epitome of experiential learning as they help students have a smooth transition to the workplace.