Mount Allison to launch THRIVE foundation program for first-year students in Fall 2023
This fall, Mount Allison University will launch a new foundation program called THRIVE — Transformation in Higher Education with Radical Inclusion, Values, and Engagement — to support incoming first-year students in thriving as academics and as humans.
The program has been co-imagined and co-created under the leadership of Toni Roberts, Director of the Purdy Crawford Teaching Centre, and Dr. Susie Andrews, Department of Religious Studies, along with robust involvement from Experiential Learning & Career Development, the Wellness Centre, International Centre, Meighen Centre, and many other students, faculty, and staff from across campus.
“It is a foundation program of sorts,” says Roberts, “but not one you’ve experienced or heard about before. We want students to thrive, to grow and develop, and to transform. I have actually been calling it a transformation program. We want all students, including those who have been excluded, equity-seeking, and equity deserving, to come to Mount Allison to feel supported and to be engaged and challenged in important ways.”
Roberts also describes the intention of the program as a power disruptor.
“We have lofty goals for this program,” says Roberts. “We are not just interested in providing students with an opportunity to grow and transform, but also in transforming teaching, ourselves, and the institution itself.”
The THRIVE program’s foundational course is called Wicked Problems (UNST 1991), which will tackle everyday issues in our communities like environmental degradation, persistent poverty, food insecurity, and mental wellness, along with areas that are key to success at university, like writing and time management — all in a way that is attentive to diversity and difference with a justice lens.
“The justice piece is not incidental here,” Roberts emphasizes. “It is foundational that everyone has access to the tools, knowledge, and support they need to succeed in their university education and beyond.”
Andrews says the course is also about connection — to each other, to resources on campus and the community, and to connecting interdisciplinary liberal arts and sciences learning to students’ careers and futures.
“We will be learning first-hand and together how the liberal arts and sciences set us up to understand and tackle everyday wicked problems in our own communities,” explains Andrews. “We will learn in conversation across the table, out on hikes and in nature, and through work integrated learning opportunities in our community. There will be monthly lunches, films, and lectures where students get to hear and engage with change makers. It is a community; we don’t learn in isolation. We learn within and without a doubt far beyond the classroom.”
Director of Experiential Learning & Career Development Rebecca Leaman says the course will help students understand the vast landscape of experiential learning opportunities that are available to them throughout their time at Mount Allison.
“Being able to get this hands-on experience in their first term at Mount Allison will really help students connect their educational goals with their personal and professional goals,” says Leaman. “They will be making links to the community, their fellow students, and faculty — and these networks will serve them well as they grow and thrive throughout their degree and after they graduate.”
Wicked Problems (UNST 1991) is a three-credit, three hour per week course that will be offered for the first time in Fall 2023 with four classes of 25 students. The other two classes will be taught by Dr. Andrew Nurse from the Canadian studies program and Dr. Andrew Inkpen from the Department of Philosophy. All the classes will also work together for learning and social activities. The plan is for 10 classes in year two and 20 in year three. The program is supported on a three-year work integrated learning grant from the Government of New Brunswick’s Post-secondary Education, Training, and Labour.
Andrews describes this learning experience as a mutual transformation because they want a genuine commitment from both students and faculty to be changed through this program.
“We just can’t wait to meet and learn from first-year students and to bring this program to life this fall,” says Andrews.