Director of Academic Programs, University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus
Christine McWebb is director of academic programs at the University of Waterloo's Stratford campus. Though her training is in Medieval French literature, Christine's main focus in the past few years has been on creating and running two interdisciplinary programs in digital media at Stratford.
The programs, at the undergraduate and graduate level, combine fine arts, humanities, and technology to address challenges in the real world of business. Students work closely with industry partners such as Google, banks, retailers, arts organizations, and nonprofit companies to create user-friendly interfaces between people and their electronic devices.
Unlike most such programs, which live in business schools, Waterloo's programs are based in the arts and humanities and draw heavily on humanistic disciplines. "Things like visual literacy—how to really read signs and images, how to analyze signs and images," Christine says. "And also the creative side."
This experience gives Christine a valuable perspective on the importance of connecting education to the wider world, bringing students into direct contact with the ways their learning will be applied in real life.
Christine's vision of education in 2030 emphasizes depth of analysis and understanding. "What I would really like to see is an increase in readings of a longer nature – more literature – and to really ask the students to engage critically with longer texts," she says. At the same time, she warns against the risks of overspecialization and hopes that education will stress flexibility and integrated learning.
In her spare time, Christine loves to travel, especially to Europe. And also, she adds, "I am an avid reader, that's kind of self-evident."