Semester in Dialogue 2016 brochure

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Upcoming Course(s)

Applications closed.

Summer 2016

Semester Outside in the City II

Full-time, 10 credits (DIAL 390W, 391W)

Last summer, students from across universities and disciplines came together to re-vision the potential for outdoor learning within Vancouver. This year, Semester Outside in the City II continues as part of the CityStudio Outdoor Classroom Project. The recently released City of Vancouver Parks Board Environmental Education & Stewardship Action Plan (EESAP) Rewilding Vancouver identifies the creation of special wild places in the city as its first priority area. One of the Quick Start Actions is to determine the feasibility of an outdoor school in Vancouver. Increasing access to nature, increasing city-wide food assets and reducing the city’s ecological footprint are key priority actions for the City of Vancouver.

This semester will build directly on the work done in the first iteration, engaging university students in the co-creative design of innovative outdoor learning opportunities in Vancouver parks and community centres to facilitate community learning and action towards these goals. Students from last year’s cohort along with BCIT’s design students who created several proposals for Everett Crowley Park will be invited to spend time sharing and exploring with this year’s cohort in order to continue building on what has already been learned. Likely conversations needing further exploration include: re-wilding, urban ecology, wildness, ecological vs. outdoor learning, and many more.

With all the above in mind, we will focus on the continued exploration of an outdoor learning site in Everett Crowley Park.

Key Questions for the Site:

What has happened here?
What is happening here now?
What should be happening here?  

We will deeply engage in the site and learn about the history, context, place, ecology and communities that engage with it. We will also consider the terms public space, wild space and what re-wilding might look like. Be prepared to explore and learn from Everett Crowley Park in myriad ways, forms, and times as we come to better understand its complex systems, deep connections and wild places. We are planning many adventures and opportunities along with this hoping to include the multitude of voices that inhabit urban wildernesses during this innovative and experiential Semester Outside in the City II.

  • Course runs Monday thru Friday, 10:00-4:00, May 9–June 24


Sean Blenkinsop is an Associate Professor in the SFU Faculty of Education with a secondment for five years to the Semester in Dialogue.

Laura Piersol is a SFU course instructor, educational researcher, and wonderer/wanderer within the Fraser River and Chapman Creek Watersheds. She has worked as an ecological educator for 20 years throughout Canada and the U.S. She helped to start two public elementary schools, the Maple Ridge Environmental School and NEST (Nature Education for Sustainable Todays and Tomorrows), where she continues to work as an educational researcher.

Marcus Morse is a Senior Lecturer in Outdoor and Environmental Education at La Trobe University, Australia. He has extensive experience guiding and teaching outdoor and experiential education in Australia and overseas, and is undertaking a study program in Canada during 2016 focussed on outdoor learning. Marcus’ research interests are in the areas of environmental education, meaning making and peoples experience within nature.

Fall 2016

Semester at CityStudio

Full-time, 15 credits (DIAL 390W, 391W, 392W)

Semester at CityStudio brings together bright, innovative students from diverse backgrounds, disciplines and universities to collaborate with The City of Vancouver on demonstration projects. CityStudio is an immersive, team learning environment combining interdisciplinary skills with the complexity of collaborating within a group setting. The course combines dialogue and design elements, and requires students to engage with communities, research existing urban interventions and design projects to improve the world around them.

By focusing on current issues that matter in Vancouver, students have an opportunity to develop innovative solutions that assist The City of Vancouver in reaching its goals. Students cultivate the skills necessary to conduct student led dialogues, public presentations, and to engage in multi-stakeholder processes with policy makers and City of Vancouver staff. The course offers field experiences, on-the-ground training, leadership development, group process, and urban sustainability project management skills.

* Students register through SFU. Course open to students from all participating universities—must apply by March 31, 2016


Janet Moore is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of CityStudio and Director and Associate Professor of Semester in Dialogue.

Duane Elverum is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of CityStudio.