A lesson in community outreach
November 16, 2006
Source: Mount Allison University
SACKVILLE, NB — From replenishing the food bank, to helping less privileged kids play hockey, to offering courses in Red Cross CPR certification, Mount Allison University commerce students are both reaching out to their community and learning on the job. Students from two different classes, one in Organizational Theory and one in Organizational Behaviour, are taught by professors who believe in doing things a little differently. The result is a group of innovative projects whose main goal is to have a positive impact on the community, while learning course material.
The commerce professors, Dr. Gina Grandy and Dr. Jane Mullen, wanted students to see first-hand how the theories they are learning in class explain organizations and human behaviour. According to Dr. Grandy, "You can tell students that contingency theory tells you that both internal and external factors affect how an organization is structured but a lecture does not bring it home in the same way as going through the ups and downs of organizing a major event. Because, guess what, in life people get the flu, individuals don’t always do what they say they are going to do, and all sorts of other things happen that would never occur to you as you sit in the classroom."
The professors also saw a chance for students to give something back to their community.
Dr. Mullen said, "I was surprised by the inventive projects that the students came up with. For example, one group with a significant number of international students used their diversity to offer a cultural awareness event. The money raised will go to Project Rebuild, which helps victims of the August fire in downtown Sackville."
At the end of the project students are required to explain: which aspects of their experiences can be transferred to other situations; the relevance of the theories from their courses; and what they would do differently if they were to repeat the project.
Some students are also aware that they may have taken for granted the services that keep the town running. A team which held a semi-formal dinner and silent auction to raise money for the fire department and to honour the Sackville firefighters hoped to remedy this. The group said that the fire this summer has made them realize what an important job these volunteers do. The evening was a big success raising $1,300.
Nadene Beyerbach was part of a team which organized the "Fill the Hummer food drive" to help replenish the Sackville food bank following the Thanksgiving holiday. Nadene said "I was surprised at the level of enthusiasm community members showed for our project. Members of both the university and the Sackville community came out to support us despite unrelenting rain. It was an experience that really highlighted the strength of the links between Mount Allison and the community of Sackville."
Other projects include; the Charity Pool Tournament for Minor Hockey, the Save a Life CPR Training, the IWK Fund raiser and Environmental Clean Up, the Toy and Clothing Drive, the Athletes in Action Maritime Basketball Tour, and the Football Scrimmage for the Sackville PeeWee Titans. Dr. Grandy, Dr. Mullen and the students would like to express their sincere thanks to all the organizations and businesses that helped make these projects a huge success.
For more information please contact Jane Mullen, Commerce, Mount Allison University, tel: 364-2573 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Photo caption: Mount Allison commerce students organized a semi-formal dinner and silent auction to raise money for the fire department and to honour the Sackville firefighters this fall.