Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

“Time” to make connections: between ideas and across campuses

August 30th, 2018

The Maple League universities are offering a new, groundbreaking and multidisciplinary course exploring the theme of “time” this Fall, demonstrating how this consortium of universities can collaborate to offer students a richer, more relevant learning experience across four campuses.

Four award-winning professors from different fields (Dr. David Hornidge, Physics, Mount Allison University; Dr. Michele Murray, Religion, Bishop’s University; Dr. Michael Cardinal-Aucoin, Biology, St. Francis Xavier University; and Dr. Jeff Hennesy, Music, Acadia University) have designed an innovative learning experience in a team-taught, distance learning environment.

“It’s an exciting multidisciplinary, team-teaching approach and a very interesting topic – Time,” says Dr. Michael Cardinal-Aucoin, StFX biology professor. This course is an opportunity for students to be introduced to different disciplines and the different approaches they take to asking and answering questions, to different ways of knowing. It will give students the chance to explore subject matter, ideas, and methodologies that might usually be beyond the scope of their chosen degree program.”

Using the latest technology, students enrolled in the course at all four Maple League universities will reflect on how time informs and shapes knowledge in four very different academic disciplines. They will attend classes via videoconference and in person throughout the Fall semester. Classes are divided into disciplinary blocks and one professor explores what time means in their field of expertise with the students and other instructors. This synchronous online learning experience provides students with both in class and virtual instruction in a small, intimate, seminar-style course.

As the professors write, "Time is a concept we encounter every day and yet one that we rarely, if ever, consider beyond checking it on our wall clock (or iPhone). However, our seemingly familiar relationship with time deceives us into believing that the concept of time is a simple one. This course will seek answers to questions such as: What is the meaning of time and how can it be defined? What is the space-time continuum and what does the theory of relativity imply about time? How do organisms perceive time and what is a biological clock? How have different religious traditions perceived time and given it meaning? How is time divided to create rhythms and how do we keep a beat?"

“This multidisciplinary learning experience encourages students to make connections between facts, concepts and ideas in various academic disciplines,” says Maple League Executive Director and Bishop’s University English Department Associate Professor Dr. Jessica Riddell. “Made possible by 21st-century technology, this course is a striking demonstration that the liberal arts approach to learning – at the core of all four of the Maple League universities – is more relevant than ever for students, as they seek to understand our increasingly complex and fast-paced world.”

Through their collaboration, the four universities of the Maple League help students prepare for rapidly evolving job market, with courses like these that challenge students to think critically and creatively about the world around them.

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