Seeking student input for change: Social Sciences
Assistant News Editor
While much of the Social Science course content is interesting and engaging, the applicability of this knowledge in the workforce upon completion of the degree is something of concern to many students in the faculty.
On March 15, the Faculty of Social Sciences held a forum, with the theme: “Understanding Our Difference, Building Our Future.” The theme of the forum was influenced by president Patrick Deane’s Forward With Integrity letter. The programme consisted of two halves: an academic panel and an industry panel. At both, professionals from the field were invited to partake in discussion with faculty and students from the Social Sciences faculty.
The speakers present on the academic panel were: James Benn, department chair of Religious Studies at McMaster, Tina Moffat, associate professor of Anthropology, Greg Flynn, CLA of Political Science, and Sandra Preston, director of Experiential Education and assistant director of Social Work.
Those present on the industrial panel were Mark Chamberlain, member of the Board of Governors, David Admes, president and CEO of Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Rebecca Bentham, executive director of the Hamilton Law Association, Paul Johnson, director of the Neighbourhood Development Strategies in Hamilton, and Denise Doyle, CEO of YWCA Hamilton.
The main objectives of the forum were to recognize the strengths, discuss potential strategies for enhancement of the undergraduate experience within the classroom and in the community. Additionally, it aimed to identify the fundamental skills expected of Social Sciences students upon graduation, with a discussion of how Social Science education can prepare students for the workforce while providing a forum for networking within stakeholders in education.
While the academic panel focused on the strengths of the faculty in relation to others, the industrial panel focused on the skills that are required from graduates.
“What you learn at university is a starting point… it’s a lifelong challenge,” said Chamberlain. “You don’t teach creativity, you don’t teach productivity, you learn them.”
The industrial panel discussed how many of the skills listed as requirements for a job position are often learned on the job through experience. According to Doyle, it is the “responsibility of employers and organizations to talk about who they’re looking to hire.”
Bentham explained that “the majority of jobs aren’t given to applicants,” but are given to people who have connections within the company.
Students need to learn how to properly brand themselves to companies to look appealing and earn the career of their dreams.