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Western University Be Extraordinary The Campaign For Western

Taking charge of the future

An interview with Dean of the Faculty of Education, Vicki Schwean

November 18, 2014

Dean, Faculty of Education, Vicki Schwean: "In our campaign, we are prioritizing projects that give back to the community at large. Projects that will bolster our ability to take charge of the future and give something back to the world."

Q. What do you hope students will learn from their experience with Western’s education faculty?

A. We want our students to build habits of mind, habits of hand, and habits of heart. With respect to the mind, we want them to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. For the hand, we want to enable them with the skills to enact the knowledge they have garnered while pursuing their studies in education and to make a real change in the world through interpersonal relationships and consultation. And for the heart, we want our students to go into the world and live the moral and ethical imperatives to care for others and provide them with the opportunity to advance and flourish.

Q. What makes Western’s Faculty of Education unique?

A. We are passionate about taking charge of the future and giving back to the world. Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, so we work every day to strengthen the field of education to help ensure every child has the opportunity to flourish. From our nationally and internationally-recognized research centres, like our Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, to our dedication to children’s mental health and advancing education for indigenous populations, we are fundamentally connected to the community. Our faculty members are leaders in their respective fields and offer world-renowned research expertise and practical teaching experience to students at the baccalaureate, master, and doctoral levels.

Q. What changes to your faculty’s programs are on the horizon?

A. We’ll be focusing even more on internationalization. We’re thrilled to be in the final stages of an exciting new partnership that will allow us to develop and implement schools and curriculum to educate children in a number of different countries. We’re also developing a new baccalaureate degree in International Education that will be the first of its kind in eastern Canada. In addition, we are building pathways from our online Advanced Qualifications courses to our graduate level programs, which will allow professionals throughout the world to pursue graduate level studies at our faculty. And we will be teaching the English language to more students than ever before as our English Language Centre continues to grow.

Q. What current challenges in the field of education is your faculty tackling?

A. The provincial government asked that all Ontario faculties of education restructure their teacher education programs from one to two years. While challenging, this gave us the opportunity to develop a two-year bachelor of education program that focuses on our faculty’s unique skills and expertise while enhancing opportunities for our teacher candidates. Our new program offers students the opportunity to specialize in areas of increasing need in the education system – including Early Childhood Education, French Language literacy, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and international education to name a few – to address shortages and keep Ontario’s education system sound. At the same time, our faculty is actively engaged in research focusing on state-of-the-art curriculum development, equity and social justice, educational leadership, international education, children’s mental health and well-being, inclusive education, and assessment practices.

Q. What are your faculty’s current priorities for the Be Extraordinary campaign?

A. We are prioritizing projects that give back to the community at large. Our Single Ceiling initiative is vitally important to ensuring vulnerable children in our local community receive the mental health care they need. Through sharing our evidence-based treatments more broadly, we hope to help children across Canada and around the world. Our Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children is conducting exemplary research on domestic violence in the workplace and homicide prevention, and we would love to be able to fund more of this type of life-changing work. We’re also excited about an upcoming partnership with our indigenous communities to develop a centre that will focus on literacy, education, fitness and overall wellness for people of First Nations heritage.

This article appeared in the Winter 2014 edition of Impact Western
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