Heather Latimer is a lecturer at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice and in the Coordinated Arts Program (CAP) at UBC. She discussed with us how her Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) project which received funding in 2017 will help integrate community-based experiential learning into CAP’s Law and Society stream by having students work with a legal nonprofit organization.
How did the idea for this project emerge?
Heather Latimer: Sure, I teach in the Coordinated Arts Program, which is a first-year program. They call it a gateway program. It means that it helps bridge students into university. And students take separate, but they’re linked, multi-disciplinary classes in the Coordinated Arts Program, which is CAP. I teach in the Law and Society stream, which means all the students that come in are interested, or sign up for anyways, a program that talks about the relationship between law and society from different disciplinary perspectives. And so a lot of them want to be lawyers, and a lot of them are interested in the legal profession. If you polled them the first day and asked them, “How many of you want to be a lawyer?” I would say 90 percent of them put their hands up, and then the other 10 percent say, “Something to do with legal work.”
And so that really was the beginning of thinking about these students who seem to come into the university with a really focused idea about what they might want to do and are already community oriented. They sign up for CAP because they’re interested, obviously, in some sort of communal learning experience. And I started thinking about those two things together and thought perhaps it would be interesting to bring the community into the classroom, and them into the community, and do some sort of community-based experiential learning with them.