If you know Guelph, you know that Gordon Street Hill is more than a change in elevation. The University sits atop the hill, allowing one to rise out of the depths of downtown and ascend to the glory of higher education.
Now don’t read me wrong, I love the UofG. I’m an staff member, a volunteer and an alumnus. As I said in a previous post, it’s a comprehensive, world-class institution, dedicated to excellence in education.
Again, don’t read me wrong, I love Downtown Guelph. It’s a creative place, with some wonderful, intelligent people doing awesome things.
“The Hill”, however, presents some considerable struggles connecting the University and the Community; physically, culturally and mentally. I’ve talked about this a couple times recently.
I’ve been thinking about this over the past couple months, as we were putting together ePortfolio Week. A tool like an ePortfolio is a powerful one because it’s focus is on the user as opposed to the course. As such, it an serve as a platform for connection between academics, extra-curricular, career and community life. One of the goals was to have an event take place downtown, to make a direct link between “life atop the hill” and “life below”.
I’m heartened by the fact that I’m not alone in the discussions around the need for University-Community engagement in Guelph. There has been some great work done through a number of partnerships recently to connect the two: Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship, Café Philosophique, Café Scientifique, Guelph Jazz Festival and Colloquium. There are certainly other initiatives I’ve left out.
What are other Universities doing to bridge these gaps? How can we continue to build University-Community engagement? Do physical structures help? Better transit? Funky new initiatives and partnerships?