In 1912, the University of Alberta was a young institution under the Presidency of Henry Marshall Tory, who charged his protégé, a young A.E. Ottewell, with the task of “bringing the University to the people.”
101 years later, the Faculty of Extension galvanizes its legacy under the mandate:
To create opportunities for lifelong learning in response to the needs of individuals and society by engaging the university and communities in learning, discovery, and citizenship.
What once was traveling libraries, “magic lantern” shows, and free public lectures in far-flung rural Alberta is today a multi-faceted, research-driven agent of community engagement, locally, nationally, and internationally.
The Faculty of Extension now delivers over 700 courses to 8500 students (more than 25% of whom hail from outside Canada annually).
Our students benefit from the expertise of more than 300 contractual instructors, whose real-world experience dovetails with the research performed by our 18 professoriate members. This research, principally in the areas of communication, social sciences, linguistics, community development, and non-traditional learning, has established Extension as a world leader in the Scholarship of Engagement (an academic domain that ties our historical mission with the vision for the future of the University of Alberta at large).
Dean of Extension, Dr. Katy Campbell, describes the Scholarship of Engagement as follows:
In the 21st century, the communities we engage reach far beyond not only the campus and province to a much larger global “community of communities,” but they are far more diverse in their cultures, perspectives, needs, and issues than those that our predecessors addressed. We recognize, as the University pursues and advances this process of community-university engagement, that Extension has unique perspectives, ongoing expertise, and a special role to play in informing and advancing that process.
Extension students, our partners in learning, benefit by earning credentials, completing studies in their preferred schedules and delivery, advancing their careers, and enriching their lives. Beyond this, their commitment to continued education benefits their communities by synthesizing new ideas and increasing productivity and innovation in a knowledge-based economy.