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Need to see your supervisor? Take a walk!

These two Concordia profs meet their PhD students on the move
August 29, 2016
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By J. Latimer

“Walks remove the clock-watching dimension of the meeting,” says Raymond Paquin. Concordia's David O'Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise organizes weekly Summer Strolls (pictured) where the centre's students, staff and director Thomas Walker meet up.


From James Joyce to Immanuel Kant, some of our best thinkers swore by their daily walks to stimulate the brain.

Now, two professors at Concordia are applying this bipedal approach to supervision sessions with their PhD students. They’re taking to the sidewalks on campus, and beyond, for productive peregrination.

Raymond Paquin, principal of the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability and associate professor at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB), likes to bring his students on a stroll through Quartier Concordia.

Sometimes, they walk up Mount Royal, near the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, or to the Concordia Greenhouse on the 13th floor of the Heny F. Hall (H) Building.

“The walks remove the clock-watching dimension of the meeting,” Paquin says.

“For me, suggesting a walk is my way of signalling that I can give extra time at that moment for the student, which I don’t always have. From there, we can explore ideas in more depth and also get to know each other better. The latter, I feel, is necessary for building and maintaining the relationship behind the student’s research.”

Paquin appreciates the fitness aspect of his walking supervision sessions, as well, since they serve as an opportunity for him and his students to get out of their chairs. He also advocates taking the JMSB stairs as an alternative to the elevators.

“It’s a great chance to view the Be Moved By Art project,” he adds.

Concordia's David O'Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise — the brains behind Moved By Art — also organizes weekly "Summer Strolls," where the centre's students, staff and director Thomas Walker meet up. The strolls are also open to the rest of the university community, as a way to widen the discussion on sustainability.
 

Exercise inspiration can be found in the stairwells of the John Molson School of Business Building. Exercise inspiration can be found in the stairwells of the John Molson School of Business Building.


Walk and talk with a purpose

André Gagné, associate professor in the Department of Theological Studies, says there’s a psychologically liberating effect to getting out of the office environment with his PhD students.

“We can have more open discussions about their research and aspirations, and this makes it easier for me to mentor them and supervise their work.”

Gagné first began using the walking approach when he asked his students if they wanted to accompany him on his stroll to the train station at the Bell Centre. It was a way for him to be more productive on his way home from work.

Now, walking is a key part of how he follows up with his students, as they head to Montreal’s Quartier Latin, the Grande Bibliothèque (BAnQ) and sidewalks around Concordia’s Grey Nuns Residence (GN).

“The students seem to prefer meeting away from the formality of the office,” says Gagné, who is more than happy to oblige.

Check out the Be Moved By Art initiative in the stairwells of Concordia's John Molson School of Business (MB) Building. 

The David O'Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise will host its last summer stroll of the year on Wednesday, August 31 from 1:30 to 3:00pm, weather permitting. Those interested in participating are welcome to contact Stéfanie Kibsey in advance or meet the group at 1:30pm on Wednesday in the lobby of the John Molson School of Business (MB) Building. 



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