Alternative Reading Week
Alternative Reading Week (ARW) is a three-day initiative during winter reading week, for students to volunteer in teams to support the needs of different organizations. By participating in ARW, students gain the opportunity to problem solve, work with peers from different disciplines and provide innovative solutions for community organizations’ identified challenges.
Instructor / Program Coordinator(s):
Alysha Ferguson, Manager, Community Engaged Learning, Centre for Student Engagement (CSE), University of Toronto Mississauga
External Partners Faculty & Staff Students
University of Toronto Mississauga
Benefits to Students:
By participating in Alternative Reading Week, student’s learn to problem solve, work with peers from different disciplines and provide innovative solutions for community organizations’ identified challenges. Students can participate in additional leadership roles as Project Leaders who help prepare the project alongside the community organization prior to the reading week, and help recruit and lead the teams throughout the three-day program.
Benefits to External Partners and the Community:
By co-creating an Alternative Reading Week project, community organizations receive innovative, research-based solutions to challenges faced by the organization. Leading up to the week, community organizations work closely with staff and student leaders to explore the project and ensure it can be accomplished by a group of 6-8 students in 3 days.
Benefits to the University:
The Centre for Student Engagement created Alternative Reading Week as a tri-campus initiative to provide students a high impact experience to co-create innovative solutions in a short time frame. The Centre for Student Engagement has partnered with faculty members to align Alternative Reading Week with curricular experiential learning opportunities as students participate in the co-curricular experience, but then complete a course assignment for credit.
Information for Interested Students:
Advice for Faculty and Staff Interested in Creating a Similar Experiential Learning Opportunity:
As a tri-campus initiative, Alternative Reading Week allows staff and faculty from across campus to participate with engaging students and community organizations in unique ways based on goals for their office. It is important that projects are created with multiple themes to provide students from multiple disciplines to be involved and have the chance to explore projects based on skills to develop and previous theoretical knowledge as it can be applied to individual Alternative Reading Week projects.
Students presenting about their experiences with Alternative Reading Week