When Dr. Andrew Wilson reflected on his teaching experience during the pandemic, one phrase that came to mind was ‘plot twist.’
The Mount Allison associate professor in Religious Studies and 2021 3M National Teaching Fellow worked with colleagues across the country to launch Shifting Conversations: Dialogue and Change in Higher Education. It was released earlier this spring at the Society for Learning in Higher Education’s (STLHE) annual conference and supported by 3M Canada.
“The idea behind the project is to help shift perspectives about what we’re doing and what’s possible in higher education,” says Wilson. “The pandemic brought so many changes with it. As challenging as it has been, it has also been a great opportunity to ask how the ideas of universities have shifted and changed. To consider anew the question, who or what is university for?”
Wilson worked with colleagues across the country, all 2021 3M National Teaching Fellows, to produce the seven-episode podcast covering topics such as STEM literacy, Indigenisation, ableism in higher education, interdisciplinary discussions on bias, and academic freedom.
“The 3M cohort is a diverse group in terms of disciplines, there are scholars in medicine, diversity and social justice, political science, just to name a few,” says Wilson. “We all brought different perspectives to the project. It was fascinating to share our experiences in these areas with each other and with a number of special guests.”
The podcast also includes an additional Mount Allison flavour. The theme and incidental music throughout the podcast was composed by Hope Salmonson, a 2022 music graduate and recorded on campus by the wind chamber music ensemble, Ventus Machina, featuring music faculty members Dr. James Kalyn, Karin Aurell, Patrick Bolduc, and Christie Goodwin.
“Composing for Shifting Conversations challenged me both creatively and technically; in writing much smaller material, I found myself needing to refine my music even further than I was used to,” says Salmonson. “Working with Andrew and Ventus Machina on this project was also exciting; it's always a pleasure to connect musically with local forces.”
Wilson says he learned a lot working on the project with colleagues across the country and on campus over the past six months or so.
“Listening to the conversations but also seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ work that goes into a production like this was eye-opening, we are all so pleased with the way the podcast turned out.” says Wilson. “I’m so thankful that Hope and James agreed to share their talents for the podcast as well. Their contributions added such richness to the final product.”
Shifting Conversations is publicly available on Spotify and archived on the STLHE website: www.STLHE.ca/podcasts/