January 22, 2015

Learning through Discovery University

Access to education is a right that many of us take for granted.  At The Ottawa Mission, we meet many people who have had to cut their formal education short due to life circumstances.  Many have not had the opportunity to set or obtain educational goals, whether they are in pursuit of a career, or simply for the joy of learning.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of a program that aims to address this need. Discovery University is made possible by a partnership between The Ottawa Mission, the University of Ottawa, Saint Paul University and First Baptist Church, along with other valued organizations in the community.  Through “DU”, men and women in low income situations can take part in free, non-credit university style courses.  The courses run for 10 weeks in the Fall, and again in the Winter and along with the weekly class, there is also a weekly discussion group.

Discovery University courses focus primarily on the Social Sciences and Humanities fields, with the belief that experiencing these disciplines will empower students to think and engage more critically with their community.  Many students have taken multiple DU courses since the program’s beginnings. One of these students is Jim:“Before I became involved in Discovery University I was unemployed and on Ontario Disability Support Payments.  I was living an isolated existence in my apartment.
One day a neighbor told me about “DU” and gave me some information and an application form for the next course. I was interested, so I applied and was accepted. Since then, I have participated in eight “DU” courses, including ones that have explored Music, Drama, Poetry, Politics, Ethics, Philosophy, and Aboriginal Studies. The courses have provided me with intellectual stimulation and have helped me lead a more organized life. I take better care of my appearance and actions because I want to be at my best when interacting with other people on a regular basis. I have made new friends in the relaxed and mutually respectful community that is  DU.”

This term, Discovery University is offering two courses: Ethics and the Human Person taught by Saint Paul University professor Father Mark Slatter and Digital Photography, taught by University of Ottawa professor Rosalie Favell. Our thanks to everyone involved in this wonderful community program.