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Human Rights, Equity & Accessibility

A group of students working together and smiling

Human Rights, Equity & Accessibility

Breaking Barriers: Free Humanities Course Opens Door to Those Who Might Not Consider University

Fresh coffee, good conversation, and an invitation to come together and ignite a love of learning. The final item on that list may not seem to be part of one’s expectation from a next door neighbour, but it’s exactly what Trent University Durham is offering local residents through the new Humanities 101 program.

Accessible education in Durham region                           

“We feel that education and lifelong learning should be accessible to everyone, not only to those who can afford it, or feel comfortable enough to step onto campus,” explains Amber Ashton, manager of Academic Programs and Campus Operations at Trent University Durham. “Our faculty and staff are genuinely proud to share knowledge with our neighbours in the Durham Region.”

Launched in 2014, and offered each fall to approximately 30 community members at Trent’s growing campus in the GTA, the ten-week program reflects the diverse span of Humanities and Social Science programs students can choose to study at Trent University Durham. Topics in the community program range from the history of comics and business management, to journalism in early Canada.

Designed for students facing barriers to post-secondary education, the program provides additional resources to ease the transition, including child care, free parking, transportation and access to the campus library.

“Trent's offering an amazing thing with Humanities 101. I’m glad I participated,” says Lindsay, a 2015 program participant. “I enjoyed the instruction from professors who knew their students were there simply to learn, not vie for grades. I was also glad to learn about post-secondary education opportunities and Trent's specific programs, as it helped me plan for my future education.”

City councillor takes part

To show their support for the growing program, and to enjoy a weekly night out, Oshawa City Councillor Rick Kerr and his wife, Janice, enrolled in the program. Councillor Kerr was keen to experience the course so he could recommend it to other Oshawa agencies.

“The course is an excellent contribution to our community's well-being and development,” says Councillor Kerr. “Humanities 101 provides the opportunity for participants to learn and gain confidence to successfully pursue an education and to advance both intellectually and through employment.”

Part of a network of program organizers and universities across Canada, Trent offers the outreach program to students recommended by various social services agencies in the region. These relationships with many local organizations including the United Way and the Durham Region Employment Network, help Trent University Durham serve as a strong community partner in Durham Region and the GTA. 

An open invitation to learning

Speaking of the impact of the program, Ms. Ashton says: “Students leave the program with a positive perception of Trent. They feel welcome to return to our public lectures, use the library and be involved on campus. As a community partner we want to offer engaging educational opportunities through Humanities 101, our undergraduate programs and local events.” 

Posted on December 30, 2015