It was my great pleasure and privilege to be accepted as one of the inaugural cohort of SFU’s Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue (UGSID) back in 2002 (the recent tenth anniversary celebration of the program really brought home how time flies!), which focused on Nature, Environment and Society. I was delighted when the coordinator recently approached me to produce an alumna profile for my work, which you can read here.

DialogueThe Semester is a ground-breaking approach to university education, in which around 20 students spend an entire semester together for 15 credits (acknowledged by most degree programs), immersed in a PhD-level reading list and, more importantly, practicing the art of dialogue with expert and eminent guests.

These guests, who include people such as former BC Premier Mike Harcourt, former Speaker of the House John Fraser, renowned journalists and editors such as Andrew Nikiforuk (Wiebo’s War) and Fazil Mihlar (editor-in-chief of the Vancouver Sun) come to meet the students as equals, as well as scientists, planners, artists, and other experts.

Students learn to listen as well as speak, to write for public audiences, to work in teams, and to engage with their work in a way no other university course that I took ever did. You learn to work with heart and soul, as well as mind, another aspect universities could improve on!

For me, the Semester gave me the courage to be myself, to stand up for what I believe in, and helped me understand how to do so respectfully and effectively. I use the lessons I learned there pretty much every day. It was a life-changing experience!