A pedagogical approach anchored in innovative practices.
Social innovation can’t be studied solely through in-class lectures, it must also be experienced. All undergraduate programs will include at least one compulsory field experience, the specialized BA will include two. These experiences can be completed within an existing organization or can even have the objective of launching a new project. The Social Innovation Workshop will play an active role in relation to the internship office: two assets that strengthen this distinctive feature of Saint Paul University.
Intensive Block Instruction
For the specialized baccalaureate, Saint Paul University’s School of Social Innovation joins numerous universities in North America that offer intensive bloc-style teaching. Unlike the traditional mode, which offers five classes at a time for 12 weeks, intensive block instruction presents students with one class at a time before moving on to the next class. The time devoted to each course is the same, but over a more concentrated period. This allows for a greater coherence in course offerings and will facilitate the organization of field-based activities that may extend over several hours or even several days.
Commitment: This way of organizing courses allows students to devote themselves to a project for long periods of time during class hours, a possibility that is not offered by traditional schedules. Thus, students could follow a day-to-day project and devote themselves entirely to it. This commitment will be useful not only for studying organizations in the field but also to carry out innovative projects.
Focus: Intensive Block Teaching allows students to invest all their time, focus and energy into a single project at a time, replicating the intensity of many workplaces of socially innovative organizations. In fact, these projects often require continued attention and the time to understand multiple facets of a social situation. With all this in mind, in order to be successful, it is important to be able to focus your efforts in one place.
Consistency: Creating blocks also makes it possible to build a more coherent curriculum where the student’s educational path is organized within each session. As social innovation is a multidisciplinary field, students must develop various skills in a number of areas. By ensuring that learning is done on a block-by-block basis, we offer a much more structured and coherent course schedule than the traditional course structure allows. This permits everyone to be at the same level of knowledge while avoiding repeating concepts from one course to another.
Dynamism: With the block system, students are encouraged from the very beginning to actively participate in the course and to start their work immediately. This encourages students to be directly involved in the subject matter and to participate more quickly in the course activities. There is also no submission of work that encroaches on the next block, everything is finished at the end of the block, so that we can devote ourselves fully to each subsequent course.
Cohesion: Block-based work encourages strong cohesion between professors and students as well as within the student body itself. Not only do the demands of intensive teaching create connections, but as cohorts follow each other in class, students build strong collaborative relationships and build a network that will serve them well in their future careers. This is not a subsidiary benefit: the innovations we are working towards are social, they are done in relation with other people. The core of the work is therefore to create links, networks, organizations, get-togethers and meetings. For the school, creating and maintaining cohesion is itself a learning objective.