KPU undergrads hold their own in academia

Thu, Jul 28, 2016

Victoria, B.C. – Fourth-year English students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) were the only undergraduates at the recent Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria.

A premiere academic conference, the DHSI colloquium has been held annually since 2009. Initially open only to graduate students, it has become an opportunity for scholars at all levels to present their research and other projects within an engaging, collegial atmosphere. Submissions are peer-reviewed, with participants subsequently invited to contribute to proceedings published in an open-access journal, Digital Humanities Quarterly.

Presentations take the form of brief, high-impact demonstrations reflecting the diverse, dynamic and exciting research taking place in academia.

“I was on the lookout for a field study activity that would allow my summer ENGL 4300 service learning students to showcase their practicums as works in progress,” explains instructor Greg Chan. “UVic’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) colloquium was just that opportunity.”

Chan lauded students Jennifer Wiens, Heather Evans and James Hospedales for not only writing successful student-led research grants to fund their participation in this co-curricular activity, but also for doing KPU proud as the sole team of undergraduate presenters at the colloquium.

Their project was a poster presentation showcasing the students’ ongoing projects for their ENG 4300 Writing and Persuasion Beyond the Classroom course, which combines physical computing with rhetorical theory.

As summer learners, each student is in the process of completing a 12-hour, community-based practicum in which he or she is authoring content and assisting in the development of a digital object using open-source software. Projects include the design of a website and social media presence for the KPU criminology department’s Social Justice Centre; the production of a promotional video for KDocs, KPU’s official documentary film festival; and the management and marketing of the KDocs outreach program in its visits this summer to Guildford Park Secondary and Pathways Aboriginal Centre.

“They held their own in the company of graduate students and faculty," added Chan. "Although I was the faculty presenter on the team, my proudest moment came when I realized that Jennifer, James, and Heather didn’t need me as back-up – they had it all under control.”

Chan gave special thanks to the Faculty of Arts and dean Diane Purvey for supporting the experience.

Student quotes

James Hospedales, Surrey
“Our English 4300 class has given us the opportunity to take the skills we learn in a classroom setting and apply them to experiences in the real world. Participating in the DHSI colloquium gave us the chance to show other universities the kind of service-learning classes that KPU supports. As we were the only undergraduate group presenting this year, we were unsure of what to expect, but we found a lot of enthusiasm for what we were doing from other participants. Overall, participating in the DHSI colloquium proved to be an invaluable experience.”

Heather Evans, Langley
“The DHSI field study trip was very valuable experience!  In preparation for the trip, we were able to gain experience with writing grant applications and the digital creation of posters and pamphlets. The presentation served as a great opportunity to share what we have learned about rhetoric and digital computing with other digital humanists.”

Jennifer Wiens, Surrey
“Leading a poster presentation at the DHSI 2016 was a privilege. From planning and administrating the trip details to creating the poster infographic and learning new software, this field-study enabled me to tangibly and creatively engage in my Bachelor of Arts degree in English at KPU. I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced the advantages of service learning and team work.”

A photo of instructor Greg Chan and students is available for download from Flickr.

About English 4300
An atypical course offering, English 4300 is the only service learning/digital humanities course offered by KPU’s Faculty of Arts. As an experimental iteration, it is showcasing how a liberal arts course—or even an entire program—can be both theoretical and practical. The English department aims to develop a digital humanities stream of undergraduate courses as a follow up to this experimental run.

About Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at

Media contact:
Corry Anderson-Fennell
Manager, Media and Communications
t: 604.599.2840
c: 604.828.5232

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