The University of Guelph is ranked as one of Canada’s top comprehensive universities because of our commitment to student learning and innovative research. We are dedicated to cultivating the essentials for our quality of life – water, food, environment, animal and human health, community, commerce, culture and learning. The University community also shares a profound sense of social responsibility, an obligation to address global issues and a concern for international development.
COMDEV at the University of Guelph
The University of Guelph (UoG) is a global leader in providing innovative learning for local and international development education and research. The Capacity Development and Extension (CDE) program of the Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) offers a suite of undergraduate on-line courses in communication process to approximately 1000 students per year. As well, at the Masters and PhD level graduate courses and student research typically address communication, learning and community engagement processes as they relate to the areas of environment, agriculture, food, and rural communities, in Canada and around the world. Through our partnerships with government and non-governmental organizations as well as the private sector, students are engaged in community-based learning projects involving multi-media and collaborative inquiry projects.
In 2006, the University of Guelph created a CFI-funded “Multi-Media Lab for Rural Communication” within the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development for the enhancement of communication and media studies in agriculture and rural development. In past years, research has involved collaboration with a wide range of local, national and international institutions engaged in the scholarship of communication for development. Under the auspices of the 1998-2013 Don Snowden Program in communication for social and environmental change, numerous graduate students completed community-engaged research projects in areas involving participatory video, rural radio and digital technologies for participatory learning and action. As well, faculty-led projects have included SSHRC funded research on social media for international agri-food innovation, the integration of radio and new information and communication technologies in South Asia and capacity development for rural radio research in Africa. Local projects emphasize support for strengthening rural broadband deployment for regional innovation in southern Ontario and knowledge mobilization for agricultural and sustainable rural development.
The evolution of communication studies and its nexus with development studies (ie. community development and international development) are key dimensions of our teaching. In class, we examine the fundamental principles, theoretical perspectives and practices existing currently, and historically, in the field of communication for social and environmental change. In the graduate course CDE6420 Communication for Social and Environmental Change, theory and practice are interwoven. Students explore and use various types of media including graphics, print, radio, internet and video media. Attention focuses on media as both message (content) and medium (carrier, including technology as product and process of global development). The praxis or application of theoretical foundations discussed in this course is developed through individual and group learning projects which enable students to interact with external resource persons and collaborate with community organizations.
Networking our teaching and research work in communication for social and environmental change globally is the motivation for engaging in the Glocal Online Classroom convened with Sweden (Malmo University), Australia (Flinders University) and South Africa (University of Stellenbosch). This pioneering initiative offers us an integrated classroom for communication and development studies. We are truly communicating and learning glocally.