University of Calgary

Campus Calgary/Open Minds

UToday HomeJanuary 9, 2013

By Betty Rice

Trish Savill proudly displays awards at South African conference. Courtesy of Trish SavillTrish Savill proudly displays awards at South African conference. Courtesy of Trish SavillIt started 20 years ago as a trial with a handful of students at the Calgary Zoo, and today the Campus Calgary/Open Minds program celebrates the connection of more than 7500 hundred students a year to the community.

In collaboration with Calgary Catholic School District, the Calgary Board of Education leads this dynamic learning experience supported by corporate funders and the City of Calgary. Campus Calgary/ Open Minds (CC/OM) brings students from the classroom into the community and connects them with experts committed to and passionate about experiential learning. Once back in the classroom, students apply their new learning to current issues, which in turn pushes their understanding beyond their local settings to national and global communities.

Now, the CC/OM has achieved global recognition. Faculty of Education Grad student and CBE employee Trish Savill was on hand at the International Education Business Partnership Network Conference in Durban, South Africa last fall when the pioneering program was awarded a 2012 Global Best Award for partnerships. This program’s award demonstrated the program’s capacity building, leadership and innovation, and it was recognized with another award as the overall winner for the Americas.

Savill, who is working on her Master’s degree in the area of curriculum development, has been the Education Coordinator of CC/OM for the past ten years, and she says everyone involved plays a part its accomplishments.

“The success of the program is shared by teachers, principals, students, community sites, volunteers, companies, school boards, foundations, and parents,” says Savill. “The Campus Calgary / Open Minds program model has extended into a variety of cities in Canada, the United States and Asia.”

Community organizations, funders and educators all say the program is making a significant difference in elementary, junior high and high school as it truly enhances the understanding of and participation in public education through increased civic engagement.

Savill says that what she’s learned as part of the CC/OM program has a direct impact on her own education. “My experience with Campus Calgary/Open Minds has created many wonderful opportunities to further examine teaching and learning in the community.”

“In pursuing my Masters, I have been able to participate in rich conversations and delve into research around this work. This has helped me to begin to understand and articulate how critical it is to have teaching and learning immersed in the rich, relevant environments of our community.”

“I really do love my work and always look forward to opportunities to share and grow.”