How Are We Different?

Past Exchange Programs

The SPSC department has a long-standing history of exchange programs with other institutions around the world. These exchanges were a way to promote SPSC and Douglas College, and to also create opportunities for students beyond the classroom.

“…[W]e [the faculty] tried to be really proactive. It’s really easy to just go and do your job and go home. [But] [w]e tried to do those extra things [exchange programs].”

gert, on starting exchange programs

Exchange with Hungary

The SPSC department’s first exchange program – a teaching exchange – took place in the 90s with the Hungarian University of Physical Education. The idea, proposed by Gert, was greenlit by the College with SPSC instructor Zefo Bernath to spearhead the exchange.

With the exchange approved, Zefo traveled to Budapest to teach the students at the University. True to the practical model representative of the SPSC department, he taught a total of four lessons in a mixed gymnasium-classroom setting – two lessons in the classroom and two lessons in the gym. Students learned about practical performance, and also gained new ideas for creative forms of teaching and grouping that differed from their own.

“[The] [p]ractical sessions that were happening – that was really exciting; that was a success.”

Zefo, on the practical performance lessons

The SPSC department’s second exchange program occurred in 1999 with Shanghai Normal University. This collaboration was also a teaching exchange. SPSC faculty members Zefo Bernath and Alison Gill travelled to Shanghai to teach the University’s students, but also to demonstrate new teaching methods for their PE instructors. As the Coaching Diploma had just been established in the years prior, the University was interested in learning the methods practiced by the Diploma.

The course content taught involved performance courses, such as gymnastics, softball, field hockey, and dance. Zefo and Alison taught the students through translation; the active nature of the content helped with the delivery, since it could be demonstrated through skills and movement. Faculty from Douglas’ Therapeutic Recreation program (who also participated in the exchange) taught concepts of inclusion and disability, which Shanghai Normal was also looking to learn and improve.

The exchange program occurred for consecutive years, and Shanghai Normal was proactive in learning and improving throughout its duration. The instructors established friendly relationships with the SPSC faculty, and adapted to whatever needs and observations that came up.

“They actually approached us [at the end of the first year’s visit] and said: ‘Okay, before you leave, could you please make a list of things we need to make sure to set up before the next visit?’ And that was very powerful for them, and helpful for us.”

Zefo, on shanghai normal’s efforts to improve and accommodate
Exchange with Shanghai Normal University, 1999

At the end of the teaching exchange, the SPSC department had successfully shared its curriculum and approach – especially that of the Coaching Diploma – with the University’s instructors, who could then take the material and run on their own.

The partnership with Shanghai Normal was also rekindled more recently, when Lara Duke became SPSC Chair in 2016. She went to Shanghai Normal in the springs of 2017, 18, and 19 for recruiting trips (for students to come to Douglas) and to work with the University’s faculty and students. Expanding beyond just the faculty going over to teach (as they had done in the 90s), Douglas had several semesters where students from Shanghai Normal came over to study SPSC and English at the College. The SPSC department also hosted a site and study tour in the fall of 2016 for students from Shanghai Normal.

On the Shanghai exchange program, Lara recalls a comment by another faculty member that shows the merits of intercultural learning at its peak:

“Having taught all these students from China…I will never go back and teach my [mostly] domestic classes the same again because of what I learned here.”

SPSC faculty, on the effects of the shanghai exchange

Exchange with Shanghai

Read more about recent exchange opportunities offered by the department here.