Creating space for transformative conversations
How to build university community through involvement in global issues
Hilary Clauson, 20
Student and Founder of World Campus, Simon Fraser University – Vancouver, BC
I founded World Campus in 2007 with the spirit of Simon Fraser University's new "Thinking of the World" mandate in mind. World Campus is a collaborative effort involving student clubs, student unions, academic programs and departments that aims to amplify internationally focused initiatives at SFU through cooperation. World Campus brings together the many different groups on the SFU campus that think of the world to encourage them to jointly enhance and profile their work. The first World Campus event was a public keynote presentation Upcoming projects include capacity-building workshops for club members, networking socials, and a global issues conference.
The aim of all the groups involved with World Campus is to provide SFU students, faculty, and staff with an understanding of key global issues and global citizenship, a sense of empowerment, and tangible tools with which to take action and promote change. World Campus works to ensure that these groups have a chance to coordinate their efforts and collaborate for their mutual benefit.
As a university community, we are presented with a world beyond campus life. We cannot turn away from the injustices we see, yet the enormity of these injustices can at times be overwhelming. From extreme poverty to lack of access to primary education, HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation, global issues are complex, interlinked, large in scope and urgent in nature.
University communities possess considerable talents, resources, and initiative. The challenge does not lie in what we can and have been contributing to our world, but rather in the profile such projects and events garner amongst the wider campus community
The role of World Campus is to inspire collaboration amongst groups, and thereby raise the profile of internationally focused projects on the SFU campus. Human resources, funding, and promotional efforts extend further and the result is a holistic, community-building collection of activities that make a tangible impact in our local and global arenas.
I met with student groups and departments on campus to discuss how we could spotlight the ways in which SFU is "Thinking of the World." When we came together, we found that we shared a common goal of working for social justice. We also found that we each had a unique strength to share, whether that be a source of funding, connection to a speaker, a pool of volunteers, or a mailing list. We decided to use the strength of each group to plan an inspiring and informative community-building event.
For more information on how to put together an umbrella organization on your campus, see Hilary's Instruction Manual.
The first World Campus event was a public keynote presentation to an audience of 200. Our keynote presenter was children's rights activist and leadership specialist Craig Kielburger. Craig's message of youth empowerment and social activism proved that change is possible, no matter how daunting the challenges.
Eight internationally focused campus clubs set up information tables and were profiled in the event program. In this way, audience members could see the many ways that people can make a difference in our world. They came away with a greater awareness of global issues and ideas on how to get involved in their global community. Club members met other students with similar causes and interests.
Currently, World Campus clubs are discussing collaborative projects. Club events are being filmed and a promotional DVD will be produced. A newsletter highlighting club activities is being developed. Networking meetings allow club executives to discuss joint initiatives such as fundraisers or awareness raising events.