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Education and Citizenship Forum
Inspiring Action > Youth Initiatives > Education and Citizenship Forum

In September 2003, the presidents and other senior administrators from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia came together with 150 young people to explore the role of education in developing young peoples' citizenship. Our goal in this "multi-logue" was to open up lines of communication between youth and administration, provide an opportunity for mutual learning, and establish connections that could create both better universities and better citizens.

The two-part event included an Evening "Teaser" Dialogue followed by a Mapping Day. At the evening session, high school and university students spoke of their aspirations and expectations of education and citizenship. An oft-expressed wish was that universities would "respect different kinds of intelligence and life experience so that not only those who receive high grades are allowed to attend." Another was that, to support the development of citizenship among youth, universities "redistribute the responsibility for learning among students and involve students in the governance of the institution."

The collective desires of the students were perhaps best summed up by keynote speaker, Aine Rathwell. "I am a 23 year old with a developmental disability," she began. "I am currently attending the University of British Columbia, a university that my brother, grandfather and many of my friends have had great successes at. Young citizens attending UBC want to be part of a community. A university community should be open to all people, to help every single student of UBC, including those with disabilities. This way everyone can feel included, special and unique. A university community has to provide for its students - but also the students have to provide for the community."

During the next day's mapping session, students created visual maps of opportunities for citizenship in their communities - both those currently existing and a vision for the future. The sixteen wonderfully informative maps that resulted were compiled in a community atlas, Exploring Citizenship, which was presented to each participating university. Connections continue to unfold as participants connect their high schools, universities and community activities to the Philia project and, through Philia, to other people and organizations.  For example, student participants have engaged with the National Film Board, UBC's Learning Exchange and Check Your Head: The Youth Global Education Network.

Click here to see the poster for the Education and Citizenship Forum.

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