The Experiential Education Unit has launched a bursary program for the University of Toronto Mississauga students seeking additional funding for their experiential learning in the 2020-2021 school year. 

The establishment of this program is in response to students wishing to explore their program of study outside the classroom. This has become increasingly difficult due to the courses’ new virtual format. The unit has launched the bursary program to help students take experiential learning courses within and outside the classroom. 

Michael Lettieri, the vice-dean of Academic Experience, discusses experiential learning objectives in his message on the EEU website. Lettieri argues that the enhancement of student learning can be achieved through “various types of practical learning [being] a core feature of [course] curricula.”

Experiential learning at UTM allows students to explore the practical side of learning through academic internships, research opportunities, and workplace practices, among others.  These “learning by doing” activities include research projects, community engagement in local and global platforms, academic fellowships, and practical placements.

There is a diverse choice of courses for students in their programs to search for opportunities that could provide them with future prospects. The eligible course list on the EEU website includes courses from anthropology, forensics, biology, computer science, environmental studies, and economics, among others.

Eligibility for the experiential education bursaries requires students to be enrolled in a U of T degree program and be registered for one or more experiential learning courses. The application period for the fall term bursaries ended on September 18. However, students interested in the experiential learning program have plenty of time to apply for the winter term. 

The application period for the upcoming winter term will begin on November 30 and remain open until January 15. Students will be notified of their applicant status through email, and their application will be contingent on the completion of the course. 

In his announcement, Lettieri stated that in addition to experiential learning’s course requirements, the program expects students to participate in academic internships and community engagement programs. This allows applicants to experience social responsibility and to respect and communicate with different communities.

Figuring out which experiential learning pathway to take can also be a challenging decision. This is why the EEU has published detailed tracks for students to determine which type of program they would like to participate in. 

The academic internships provide students with work experience in their related fields and are offered in various disciplines. Upper-year undergraduate students can get 100 to 200 hours of work placement for academic credit. These internships will allow students to explore their field of study and network with people in their discipline. Academic internships can also be counted as full or half-course credits. 

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the EEU has taken measures to ensure students’ safety. A message from the academic experience staff stated that “students and staff are encouraged to consult material developed from the Tri-Campus Working Group on Remote Experiential Learning,” which can be accessed via Microsoft Office’s SharePoint

These documents contain information on how the new virtual format will impact experiential learning courses and how academic internships and practical placements will adapt to the new Covid-19 normal.

“The Centre for Community Partnerships has also drafted this document to specifically aid in the adaption of community-engaged learning courses,” read the unit’s message. “In addition, the EEU has conducted an environmental scan of remote experiential learning courses across North America, which may also be of further assistance.” 

As the pandemic’s restrictions of activities have limited students’ progress outside of academics, students are encouraged to see how the experiential learning programs will benefit their field-related experience. Students will be able to practice hands-on learning, strengthen their studies’ focus, improve academic performance, and have professional network-building opportunities. 

Students can submit their applications to the experiential learning bursaries program for the winter term starting November 30, via the EEU website.

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