In the Quartz article, “Harvard, Yale and other top universities are teaching students a new skill — happiness,” Jenny Anderson highlights several university courses in North America that are addressing questions of belonging and purpose at the undergraduate level. As former students in Kim Samuel’s McGill University seminar, Lessons of Community and Compassion: Overcoming Social Isolation and Building Social Connectedness through Policy and Program Development, we are thrilled to see this class recognized for its innovative approaches in post-secondary education. From climate change to forced migration and multidimensional poverty, we were exposed to a wide variety of subject areas and were privileged to hear from practitioners in human rights, education, and journalism, to name a few.
Through this course, we gained a unique understanding of the interconnections and linkages between many of the global and local issues that will mark our adult lives. The class also gave us the opportunity to reflect on the areas where we each have the potential to make an impact as individuals, and allowed us to envision new career pathways. Above all, we developed a sense of community and shared purpose to continue to build social connectedness in our personal and professional lives. We hope this article sparks further conversation about how the university classroom can be a place not only for academic learning, but empowerment and social change as well.
– Celine Thomas and Jessica Farber
B.A. 2017, International Development Studies, McGill University