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I seek to create classrooms that reflect a truly engaged university, a space in which teaching, learning and research are informed by community engagement and a commitment to democratic problem solving.

“If men [sic] define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.”

– William Isaac Thomas & Dorothy Swaine Thomas, The child in America (1928)

Teaching and Mentoring Overview

My approach to mentorship is to work with students in the writing and research process. For example for some students, it is the first time they have had to write their own grant. I support that process by sharing my grant-writing experience and providing feedback to the student on their grant applications. Grant writing brings clarity, which is extremely important, not least because it conditions subsequent decisions about thesis objectives, course enrolment and job prospects. Where possible I also aim to co-write a publishable article with graduate students. The intent is to discuss and reflect on research and writing styles as early as possible. I prefer to meet with graduate students fairly regularly and to create expectations for scholarly advancement. I enjoy mentorship and aim to convey the excitement as part of role modeling the job of professor.

Current Courses

EDST 571A: Introduction to Educational Research: Relating Questions, Theories & Methods
The first term of a two-term course that introduces Master’s students to research in/for/about education, where “education” is taken in a broad sense, including discourses and representations of education, schooling, learning and teaching, practices and policies in adult and higher education, K-12 schooling, early childhood education, workplace learning, and informal education. Rather than considering theory separate from research methods, the course considers educational research as a coherent combination of research questions, theoretical perspectives, and research methods. The central question in both terms is: From what theoretical perspectives and with what research methods can educational questions be investigated?

Past Courses


EDST 601: Doctoral Seminar: Education, Knowledge and Teaching

EDST 588: Environmental Education
Defines, conceptualizes, and critiques environmental education and education for sustainability.

EDST 570: Sociology of Education
Examines the role of education in promoting social change by drawing on the discipline of sociology and some its major concepts and theorists.

EDST 520: Perspectives on Adult Education Practice

EDST 516: Learning for Social Change
A theoretical and applied effort to learn about the role of learning in promoting social change in the community. The course will cover major theoretical concepts (e.g., social movement learning, community, and collective behaviour) and major theorists (e.g., Bourdieu, Hall, Joas, and Giddens).

HKIN 574: Health Promotion
Health promotion is defined, conceptualized, and linked to physical activity.

INDS 565: Case Study Research
Students discuss the epistemological and ontological underpinnings of case study and cross-case analysis and debate central issues concerning the value of case study research.

MEM 550: Research Methods (at Royal Roads University)
Covers research methods – surveys, interviews, and statistics. As part of the course, students write portions of the methods section of their thesis.


ASTU 400: Urban Sustainability
Urban sustainability is explored through the building of an urban trail via collaborative learning and group projects.

DIAL 390, 391 and 392: Semester in Dialogue – Focus on Sustainability (at Simon Fraser University)
Students engage in dialogue about leadership in sustainability within a global context and amidst complex local issues, including class projects (public dialogue).

EDST 451: Issues and Frameworks in Adult Education

EDST 314: Social Issues in Education
Raises awareness of the deeper social issues that often underlie the challenges of contemporary schooling and discusses orientations and strategies to address them.

EOSC 448: The Art and Practice of Sustainability
An interdisciplinary approach to peer learning is applied to explore the definition of sustainability through workshops with community.

HKIN 261: Health and Society
Students analyze the concept of health and trace the evolution of health care in Canada. Health promotion models are introduced.

SOCI 420: Sociology of the Environment
Students explore development, environment, and conservation as concepts while considering community, indigenous knowledge, and activism as solutions.

SOCI 360: Qualitative Methods
Students link method and theory through first-hand experience with collecting data. Inquiry is grounded in the qualitative methods literature.

SOCI 350: Social Theory
Covers major theorists and theories of sociology and explores the origins of social theory and how theory informs social research and activism.

SOCI 320: Sociology of Development
Outlines the historical, political, economic, cultural, and sociological backdrop of world inequality, and explores the concepts of modernization, development, and globalization.

SOCI 315: Sociology of Leisure
Covers the social impact of leisure, the historical and social roots of work-leisure, and theoretical approaches to leisure.

SOCI 100: Introductory Sociology
Through critical thinking, students learn the major concepts and theoretical constructs of human social activity.


1. Titles of PhD Dissertations Supervised (since 2010):

Current: Derom, Inge. Hosting and leveraging sport events to increase physical activity: The Tour of Flanders as a case study of both an elite and mass participation event and specific event setting.

Current: Munoz, Marissa. Borderland-Mestizaje and the Water Pedagogies of the Rio Grande. (with Jo-Anne Naslund.)

Current: Pentifallo, Caitlin. Evaluating the social housing legacy of Vancouver 2010: Beyond the Olympic Games Impact (OGI) study.

Current: van Luijk, Nicolien. The International Olympic Committee and the United Nations: Examining a partnership of sport and international development. (with Brian Wilson.)

2. Titles of MA Theses Supervised (since 2010):

Current: Gillard, Spring. Going mobile: The sustainability tour as unique experiential pedagogical vehicle that enhances application of learning.

Current: Lim, Stephanie. Vancouver’s local food movement and questions of social inclusion and exclusion.

Current: Straka, Timothy. Learning Capital: An Adaptive Education prototype for Canada’s National Capital Region.

2012: Brin, Elizabeth. Becoming and being: International graduate student experience and identity formation in the context of multiculturalism and internationalization.

2010: DeLisio, Amanda. Mandating action: High school students’ perceptions of a school-based physical activity policy.

(3) Titles of MEd Graduating Papers Supervised (since 2010):

2013: Grave, Jeske. A dire message from the last frontier: Educating for just and eco-resilient communities.

2013: Mallett, Catherine. Northern holistic outdoor educational adult program: A proposal.

2011: Chow, Stella. Taking advantage of the great outdoors:Exploring the benefits of teacher participation in outdoor education at the intermediate grade levels.

2011: Proctor, David. How is museum learning based on the “Campus Calgary/Open Minds” model such a valid approach to creating high quality learning?


Toward a pragmatist-inspired redesign of education

This project integrates local experiments into the very fabric of the school system, so that successful ideas can be disseminated to new contexts, and other schools can avoid repeating previously unsuccessful experiments to the detriment of students. This thought experiment begins with an attachment to the existing institutional structure of education. This attachment, which we call the Epistemic Division, is designed to generate and maintain a rigorous knowledge base for educational practice through scientific research in classrooms across the school system, from primary to postsecondary. The new structure will serve to supplement and buttress the existing institution rather than to replace it, while leaving much of contemporary education intact. In addition to structural transformation, our proposal calls for new professional standards and daily routines in teaching and administration. If these proposals can plausibly be implemented in the real world, the cumulative changes will be substantial and encompassing.

Learning City – Academic Programming

Dates: 2004 – 2005
Funded by: 1) VP-Research, University of British Columbia ($25,500 + $1,683); 2) Western Economic Diversification Canada ($30,000); and 3) Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, University of British Columbia ($15,750)
Amount: $72,933 (total)

The Learning City project created undergraduate and graduate academic programming on urban sustainability and involved students and instructors from four post-secondary schools in the city of Vancouver, Canada. The Learning City Classroom engaged students in sustainability efforts among local community groups using the pedagogy of community service learning. Community partners involved in the Learning City include community members, politicians, bureaucrats, and members of non-governmental organizations. The partners determined the issues and concerns that exist in relation to a concrete problem or project regarding the sustainability of the region (e.g., construction of an urban trail or green buildings).

Designing Research Tools to Evaluate Sustainability Academic Programming

Dates: 2005
Funded by: Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, University of British Columbia
Amount: $12,000
Principal Investigators: Rob VanWynsberghe, Janet Moore, Meg Holden

The Learning City classrooms were evaluated for learning using tools such as surveys, video reflections, and interviews. The results are published in:

VanWynsberghe, R., & Moore, J. (2008). Envisioning the classroom as a social movement organization. Policy Futures in Education 6(3), 298-311.


Video – Action and Awareness Course

Dates: 2004
Funded by: President’s Office, University of British Columbia
Amount: $2,500
Principal Investigators: Rob VanWynsberghe, Janet Moore

The Learning City’s undergraduate course was professionally videotaped and edited for dissemination purposes. The intended audience were administrators and interested others from the four post-secondary institutions involved.

Transdisciplinary Course on Sustainability

Dates: 2002 – 2004
Funded by: Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, University of British Columbia
Amount: $40,000
Principal Investigator: Kurt Grimm
Co-Investigators: Rob VanWynsberghe, Janet Moore, George Spiegelman

This design of this innovative transdisciplinary course, The Science and Practice of Sustainability, integrated educational, scientific, social scientific, and planning literatures. The course was open to all undergraduate students at UBC.


Sustainability 101 Course for Downtown Eastside

Dates: 2002
Funded by: Vancouver Agreement
Amount: $20,000
Principal Investigators: Rob VanWynsberghe, Andrew Sharp

This continuing education course titled Building a Climate Change Curriculum was offered for free to citizens of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside as an extension of the UBC Humanities 101 initiative. The course contributed to a larger effort by students to create an educational storefront in the area.


Community Service Learning Database for Introductory Sociology Course

Dates: 2001
Funded by: Instructional Support and Information Technology, University of British Columbia
Amount: $3,000
Principal Investigator: Rob VanWynsberghe

This funding was used for programming services that enabled the PI to build a database of sustainability organizations. Students entered relevant information as a community service-learning requirement in an Introduction to Sociology course (SOCI 100). Eighty students were involved.

Building a Climate Change Curriculum

Dates: 2001
Funded by: Environment Canada (Science Horizons)
Amount: $36,000
Principal Investigator: Rob VanWynsberghe

This funding enabled the development of a curriculum on climate change that included guest lecturers (e.g., Guy Dauncey) and information from diverse sources (e.g., online, Environment Canada, etc.). The course materials were later revised for use in a continuing education course on Intercultural Communication.

Current Courses
Teaching and Mentoring
Past Courses
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