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Edmund Pries is an associate professor in Laurier’s Global Studies and Religion and Culture programs, the coordinator of the university’s Social Entrepreneurship Option and Community Engagement Option and the academic director of C3 Innovation Labs. For over 15 years, Pries has used his position at Laurier to create and facilitate transformational experiences for students, on campus and in communities. According to Pries, transformation through teaching requires the professor to assist the student in reflecting on the intellectual growth experience – and to guide the learning process.
“I always seek to improve the student learning experience and work towards a dynamic classroom with a positive student-professor learning relationship,” says Pries. “Teaching lies at the very foundation of the university’s mission. Everything else we do is built upon it.”
I cherish variety in my teaching because I have diverse academic interests and find such diversity personally enriching. I enjoy teaching peace and conflict studies and international law-related courses where, as a class, we use current events to try to understand what works and what does not – and why – and how to create legal structures to reduce violence and conflict. At the same time, I like teaching religion and culture course, like “Ancient Christian Cultures”, because it allows me to tell stories and storytelling is one of my favourite pedagogical tools. Similarly, I also relish guiding and mentoring students who are learning experientially in courses focused on community engagement and social entrepreneurship. In these courses, some students work in urban placements and others are required to create and launch their own social venture.
I am perpetually inspired and motivated by the enthusiasm of my students to learn, to develop new ideas and to tackle the world’s most complex challenges. Current global issues – the climate crisis, war and conflict, homelessness, growing socio-economic disparity and a host of other challenges – propel me into a classroom of students, where together we can dissect and discuss problems and seek solutions. It is these students that give me hope. Their enthusiasm ignites my own desire to learn and understand and inspires me to contribute the best I can give to the professor-student learning relationship – and to explore with them the possibilities for a transformed global society.
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