By Jaclyn Tersigni | The Star
Not all learning takes place in a classroom, with a textbook or on a computer. Ontario’s colleges and universities are increasingly finding ways to offer students experiential learning opportunities that provide a real-world education. Here’s four of them.
Run a food truck at Humber College
Humber is home to Ontario’s only student-run food truck. Launched last September, the truck serves up fresh meals to the college’s north campus, as well as real working experience to the students who help run it. Humber students in their second, third or fourth semester of culinary programs (such as Culinary Skills, Culinary Management and Cook Apprentice), who have a food handling certificate, are eligible to participate. They work with Humber faculty members to help create a menu, and cook each meal to order.
But it’s not just culinary students who help run the truck. Menus are given a nutritional analysis by Humber’s Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle students. Event Management students can get involved when the truck participates in special events, and Hospitality Management students can gain experience by working as front-of-house staff. Ideas for truck promotions can be submitted by students in marketing classes.
Make beer at Niagara College
Microbreweries and craft beers have swelled in popularity over the last few years, along with a keen interest in how to produce the best brews. At Niagara College, prospective brewmasters learn by doing.
The two-year Brewmaster and Brewery Operations Management program teaches students the science behind brewing, the ins-and-outs of making and marketing beer, and how to manage a brewery. Students come up with their own experimental recipes, take on the kegging and bottling, and sell the school’s wares at a store that’s open to the public. The “classroom” includes a fully-equipped teaching brewery, as well as a four-acre yard for hop growing.
Left Field Brewery, in Toronto’s east end, was founded by an early graduate of the program. Other graduates have gone on to work for Beaus and Lake of Bays breweries.
Start a business at Ryerson University
Undergraduate Entrepreneurship and Strategy students at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management don’t just learn about starting a business — they actually do it. During a mandatory third-year course, students come up with an idea for a company, social venture or non-profit project based on problems they’ve recognized and solutions they’ve identified. In the follow-up compulsory course in fourth year, students can continue working on their project.
The projects launched in the Entrepreneurship and Strategy program don’t have to end upon graduation; some students have pursued their ideas outside of school, turning them into full-fledged companies. YogaSoda — a Toronto kombucha tea company — was the brainchild of a student in the program, as was SoapBox, a Toronto innovation management platform.
Adventure into the wild at the University of Toronto
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology students at U of T have opportunities to take their studies out of the classroom — way out of the classroom. Each year, the EEB undergraduate program offers two or three field courses, to locales as varied as the Amazonian rainforest and Algonquin Provincial Park. The for-credit courses have class sizes of about 20 students or less, and enable students to apply their knowledge in different natural settings, while spending valuable time with the instructors, as well as like-minded students.
Peru has been frequently offered as a “tropical field” option in recent years. Past students have spend two or so weeks at the Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Center in the Andes Mountains and at the Los Amigos Research Center, located between the Madre de Dios and Los Amigos Rivers.