A New Take on Experiential Learning
Academia and Activism is the third experiential learning style class that Adrian teaches at Carleton.
When asked about the importance of experiential learning, Adrian is thoughtful. “Experiential learning is typically focused on helping students to develop real-world skills that make them more employable,” Adrian muses. “In my mind, my role is not to get students jobs. My role is to get them to reflect more critically, to write more persuasively and to think more globally.”
In the context of Academia and Activism, this is especially important. “Students’ abilities to think critically and to passionately persuade is paramount as they participate in these advocacy projects,” says Adrian. “They have to be able to perform research, consider regional implications, assess the impact of current advocacy campaigns and then launch their own campaigns—all of which depends a great deal on critical thinking and persuasion proficiencies.”
‘It’s a Win-Win-Win’
In Adrian’s opinion, the seminar results in a “win-win-win”—for the students, for SAR and for the scholars.
Adrian explains: “The students benefit from a hands-on learning experience. SAR benefits from the students’ expertise and hard work—during the seminar, the students produce reports related to their projects that SAR can repurpose and reference in future advocacy work. And, most importantly, the scholars at risk benefit from having dedicated individuals who are fighting for their rights.
“We were involved with three SAR cases, two of which were resolved by the end of the semester. The students were majorly invested in the outcomes of the cases. So, when the semester ended and the final case was still ongoing, many of the students insisted on continuing their work on a volunteer basis. Since then, they have been tirelessly working on collecting signatures on a petition that would enable the issue to be tabled in the House of Commons.”
El-Mufti, who was part of the group of student volunteers who continued working on the case, says he is proud of his classmates.
"We had been in touch with students from other Student Advocacy Seminars and found out that most seminars are a full year. After our four-month semester ended, we wanted to keep working. We didn’t want to stop until all the cases were resolved. We needed 500 signatures to get our last case tabled in Parliament. I’m proud to say that thanks to the dedication of my fellow classmates, we surpassed that goal, ultimately collecting 550 signatures.”
When asked about what he would say to other students considering taking the class, Ef-Mufti doesn’t hesitate. “I’d recommend it; I’ve already been telling my friends about it. It’s a great opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of human rights issues, amalgamate theory and practice and connect and work with others.
“Dr. Adrian is very passionate and invested. That’s contagious. You’re pushed to work harder because you see how much she cares, and you see the tangible difference you can make.”
Together with a large network of SAR activists, Adrian and her students made a life-changing impact on several scholars at risk. “This class gave us the skills, resources and platform to play our part and make a substantial difference in the lives of these scholars,” says El-Mufti. “With Dr. Adrian’s guidance and SAR’s partnership, we were able to leave the world a better place than we found it.”