Loyola International College took in its first students a decade ago. In the ensuing years, the college has educated three Faculty of Arts and Science valedictorians, while about a third of its graduates have continued on to law school or graduate studies. Many remain in contact with the college and each other via social media.
On September 15, we will celebrate the college’s high achievements and its 10th anniversary with a dinner in the beautifully refurbished Loyola Jesuit Hall and Conference Centre on the Loyola Campus.
From its inception, the program offered undergraduate students an international awareness while maintaining a humanities and social science presence on the Loyola Campus. It also provided a space for international and Canadian students to work together in small classes.
I was among the college’s founding members, along with John Drysdale (sociology), Bill Byers (mathematics), Jim Moore (political science), Bill Bukowski (psychology) and Pamela Bright (theological studies).
We worked to create a unit that would attract excellent students and provide a rich academic experience through the college’s Minor in Diversity and the Contemporary World. This was designed to complement our students’ majors, specializations or honours programs.
We also created an environment where a community of scholars/faculty members and students could meet to discuss work and engage in a lively intellectual conversation.
The friendships and connections that were shaped in this unit testify to our other major goal: to create a community where all feel free to express their ideas and meet each other in ways that transcended academic excellence.
The emphasis on community extends beyond the college and university and embraces volunteering in diverse countries; many of our students have worked with the Concordia Volunteer Abroad Program and other organizations.
The college organizes field trips, events such as film screenings and book launches, lectures and a yearly conference on globalization together with Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y.
We also have a very lively student association that has arranged many splendid get-togethers. A perennial favourite is “Cooking with the Profs,” when students are invited to professor’s homes to cook dinner and talk.
From the start, the college saw itself as an advocate of community and as a green unit.
Over the years, we attracted students such as Jessica Sypher, BA 11, who put in place our vermicompost system and connected us to Sustainable Concordia. This led to even closer relations between the college and students with an interest in sustainability issues.
Thanks to a student initiative and the support of former political science chair Peter Stoett, the faculty created a new Minor in Sustainability Studies. The logical place to house this was Loyola International College, which had a minor that already included some courses that could be shared with the new program.
Loyola Campus also is home to gardens, a small urban farm, a solar house and other green initiatives, further energizing the synergy between the new minor and the original program.
The Minor in Sustainability Studies began in September 2011 and is well on its way to becoming a sought-after program. It has attracted some outstanding new students, many of whom will complete experiential-learning internships in the local community.
Our hope is to supplement the two minors with a research centre that will be known as the Loyola Centre for Sustainability Research and further strengthen the systematic development of sustainability and global studies at Concordia.
The Loyola Centre for Sustainability Research, involving more than 20 arts and science professors, will focus on transdisciplinary approaches (science, policy and values) to the study of biodiversity conservation and climate-change adaptation.
These and many other plans are in an embryonic stage at the college. As a result, and to better reflect its expanded responsibilities and potential, it has been recently renamed the Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability.
We invite alumni to join us at our anniversary event. I look forward to catching up with fellow faculty members, graduates and our outstanding current students.
• Loyola College for Diversity and Sustainability (formerly Loyola International College) 10th anniversary
• “High marks, zero waste” — NOW, June 20, 2011 (features Jessica Sypher)