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Students Helping to Roll Out New Strategic Plan

Students have made a return engagement with the Faculty of Science's strategic plan.

After consulting with students during the development of the strategic plan in 2019, the Dean's Office has recruited a team of students to help implement key parts of the plan. The students with the Strategic Plan Project Team were hired through the McMaster Work Program and started working a series of projects during the summer.

The students have earned high marks from Debbie Marinoff Shupe, Manager of Strategic Initiatives and Special Projects and Project Coordinator Maggie Cockburn who've been supporting the team.

"Each and every student has done an outstanding job," says Debbie. "They've brought their personal perspectives and unique experiences to their work. Having students directly involved means we're not guessing or imaging what initiatives would be helpful and meaningful to students. The students told us, proposed a series of projects and then got to work. We take pride in the Faculty of Science for being student-centred so it made a lot of sense to invite students to get directly involved in implementing our strategic plan."

Maggie says the Strategic Plan Project Team has proven to be a great way for students to make a difference. "Students have co-created plans and projects that they're deeply connected to on a personal level. They're also making contributions that will have a profound and lasting impact for current and future student in the Faculty of Science. It's been an amazing experience that they'll carry with them throughout their careers." 

Screen shot of students meeting remotely on ZoomStudents have been working on a series of projects aligned with the Faculty of Science's 2020-2025 strategic plan  including:
  • Developing a framework for advancing and incorporating Indigenous knowledge, wisdom and culture into the Faculty of Science curriculum.
  • Supporting three new projects in the Science Career and Cooperative Education Office, including the development of a supplementary application to better support equity deserving students, reviewing the career exploration topics discussed in Science 2C00 and creating a chart for students that maps the office's resources, supports and services.
  • Assessing how equity, diversity and inclusion concepts are incorporated into course learning material and Faculty of Science publications. 
  • Working with the Office of the Associate Dean (Academic) to enhance communication and access to resources for first-year students. 
  • Further enhancing communication within the Faculty of Science by reviewing communications at similar Faculties at Canadian and American universities.
Here's what some of the students said about why they chose to join the Strategic Plan Project Team and what they've found most rewarding.

Brooke Fearns (Human Behavior) - "Helping to improve a community is a rewarding experience. We get to help improve areas of McMaster for future and current students by helping further build an inclusive, welcoming and diverse community where everyone feels welcome. It's a wonderful team that is so diverse and close to one another."

Sage Hartmann (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior) - "This was a unique opportunity to work within an established governance structure and assist in the advancement of initiatives. As a passionate advocate for the inclusion of Indigenous voices and Ways of Knowing, this position was the perfect opportunity to test out my ideas of policy-based reform. The best part of working in this team was the opportunity to work alongside an incredible cohort of students, and with Maggie and Debbie. Despite being virtual, the efforts made by Maggie and Debbie to create opportunities for everyone to connect and build relationships promoted a supportive and inclusive work environment."

Arash Aria (Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization) - "The best part of working with the team is hands down the knowledge you gain from one another. It’s a very intellectual group of people who have experienced life very differently from one another. When you bring that together, you develop a group that can learn from one another and help amplify each other’s voices. I am honoured to be led my Maggie and Debbie who are the epitome of what change should look like today within organizations.". 

Angelina D'Angelo (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior) - "After reading the Strategic Plan, I was really excited to see that the Faculty of Science had a written plan on how they intended to improve things such as equity, diversity and inclusion. What particularly interested me was the focus on improving EDI training for faculty members. I have experienced many occasions where instructors were greatly lacking in EDI training and it affected my education. I wanted to be a part of this team to use my experiences to improve EDI in the faculty, so future students would not feel excluded in their courses. When Maggie and Debbie told us to propose projects to work on, I did I not expect my ideas to become tangible projects. I was also excited to see so many of the leaders in the Faculty of Science are excited about improving EDI and want to get our projects off the ground as soon as possible."

Samarah Maqbool (Life Sciences) - "I'm currently a Level 1 student at McMaster -- meaning I'm currently between "phases", as one might say, between high school and post-secondary. A lot of change comes with this intermediate period (both good and bad), but more importantly it comes with many chances to learn. By being on the Strategic Plan Project Team, I have the opportunity to share my experience with change and resonate with people in the same boat as me. With these shared understandings, we can find solutions to ease the waves of hardships that come along with change. In my case, streamlining the first-year experience to allow for accessibility, engagement and satisfaction.One of the best parts of being part of the Team is that there are such passionate like-minded students to work with! Finding and discussing areas of concern is so validating, especially when your colleagues feel they've had similar experiences to reach that conclusion. With that, we have a lot of fun in finding the best way to support and uphold the Science Strategic Plan, and creating the optimal experience for everyone in the McMaster community."

Oishee Ghosh (Biology and Mathematical Science) -  "I was interesting in using my previous work experiences as well as my background as an undergraduate student here at McMaster to work on a project supporting the Faculty of Science Strategic Plan. In particular, I was excited to see how the team really values the students' perspective when working on various projects, and gives us the opportunity to provide input on areas that directly impact undergraduate students at the university.  Debbie and Maggie create a welcoming space where we feel comfortable to share our ideas and insights, to then select specific areas we can focus our work on. Through this project, I’m looking forward to the educational opportunities and resources that will benefit undergraduate students at all levels who are interested in science research." 

Simran Dhami (Biology and Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior) - "I saw joining the Strategic Plan Project Team as an opportunity to help contribute to the positive change I want to see within the Faculty of Science. I was especially interested in the emphasis put on increasing the initiatives revolving around EDI in the Faculty of Science. I recognized that this would be the perfect place to put forward my views and ideas, being an individual from an underrepresented group myself. The best part of working on this team is the continuous learning I get to experience whenever I engage in discussions with team members or other faculty members. I appreciate being a part of a working environment where everyone’s opinions are valued, and it's especially gratifying to be able to listen to the different perspectives on more complex issues within the Faculty ranging from accessibility to discrimination. Overall, I feel like I’m always practicing self-growth while being a part of this team and learning about things that I was previously ignorant to."
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