Building Partnerships with our Local and Global Communities
Arts & Science has a crucial role to play in connecting the University with our local urban community, as well as our broader international community. In his Three Priorities document, the President of the University of Toronto highlights the importance of the University engaging with our community for our mutual benefit. Throughout 2020-2025, Arts & Science will derive new strengths through partnerships: local, national, Indigenous, and international. We will raise our social profile by supporting research and teaching initiatives that deal with issues facing our local and broader communities, ranging from supporting refugees in the city to addressing climate change globally. These are issues that our faculty, staff, and students care about, and that make the Faculty more relevant and prominent within our immediate and larger communities.
The A&S Strategic Partnerships Office, established in July 2019, will support our goals for enhanced outreach, community engagement, internationalization, student experience, and research by creating new partnerships and supporting existing connections. Strategic partnerships with local and international organizations in the public and private sector, NGOs, and governments can bring significant value to our research and teaching mission. Our interdisciplinary expertise positions us to develop a range of strategic partnerships that can advance the research profile of A&S, U of T, and indeed, of Canada. Such partnerships can facilitate research discoveries by connecting scholars from around the world to explore questions of global significance, and enable integrated pedagogical initiatives where students learn while solving problems with local organizations.
Moving forward, we will promote projects that encourage community engagement with our academic mission. Many units have set up events, ranging from speaker series to summer camps, that are open to the community; we will provide better centralized communication of this multitude of events that connect us to our community. We can draw on the successes of individual unit-level partnerships to develop strategies and “toolkits” for supporting such outreach activities more broadly within A&S. To strengthen our connections with Toronto’s large school boards, we will engage in collaborations that include staff in the A&S Registrar’s Office and the University’s Office of Student Recruitment. We will consider the development of centrally delivered public intellectual forums that are visible and accessible to our alumni, to the University, and to our broader city community.
Although partnerships outside the institution have the potential to provide enormous value to our teaching and research, our connections within the University are also crucial. We offer a variety of academic programming in collaboration with other divisions and will continue to work with our partners across the institution to ensure that these programs offer students the best possible education and experience. In addition, we will continue to support our researchers in developing projects that span divisions. For example, we can build on the success of the XSEED grants, that support research undertaken by researchers in A&S and the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, recognizing the importance of initiatives that bring together scholars with different perspectives and methodological expertise.
Arts & Science has more than 260,000 alumni living in at least 190 countries around the globe. Our alumni occupy significant roles in government, education, business, and the arts in Canada and around the world. These individuals contribute enormously to our mission, and we can build additional partnerships with them to the benefit of our faculty and students. We capitalize on alumni mentorship through initiatives such as the various long-standing College-based mentorship programs and A&S’s highly successful “Backpack to Briefcase” (b2B) program, which brings together students with alumni who can provide guidance relevant to their career interests. We will promote new alumni engagement opportunities in the future, including those for graduate students interested in exploring non-academic career paths.
In 2020, we have started an ambitious new Advancement initiative, beginning with wide-reaching consultations for a priority-setting exercise. Our Advancement team is preparing for the next campaign to celebrate the University’s bicentennial in 2027. With a transparent and streamlined set of priorities, the Faculty will be well poised to build the supports we need to achieve our goals for the immediate and longer term.
Outreach and partnerships enrich opportunities for faculty and students and open new and creative areas of research and scholarship. We will do more to recognize and support the efforts of faculty, staff, students, and alumni who build connections that bring value to the A&S community and elevate the profile of the Faculty within the University and beyond. A new communication strategy for highlighting and celebrating our community engagements, as well as the development of high-profile Faculty-wide activities, will help bring a greater sense of pride and identity to the Faculty.