This past winter, students from Niagara College’s School of Justice and Fitness experienced an enhanced diverse learning environment thanks to the College’s partnership with New College Lanarkshire (NCL), located in Scotland, United Kingdom.
Both NC and NCL students participated in a virtual class, taught by NC School of Justice and Fitness Professor John Bauer, to learn about the topic of eyewitness misidentification.
“Internationalization in academic and other institutions is growing,” said Bauer. “The ease of creating opportunities such as these class audits has never been so effortless. They are an excellent precursor to fostering relationships with other institutions. Additionally, in a globalized society, international collaboration programs help instructors, students and institutions gain valuable contacts that promote success through curriculum development and collaborative programs.”
The students from NCL are currently studying in NCL’s Certificate of Preparation for Police Examination and Recruitment (COPPER) program, managed by NCL’s Academic Leader in the Department of Humanities, John Gould. He explained how class material was distributed in advance of the class to give students more time to digest the associated comments and insight on the day, and to consider questions.
“Niagara College’s talk was a rare opportunity to hear from a subject expert in the field from over 3,000 miles away,” said Gould. “In the remote working era, we haven’t had as much opportunity as before to bring in guest speakers, so we’re very grateful to harness the capabilities of digital learning. Consequently, John’s guest lecture was one of the class’ highlights of the academic year.”
Both NC and NCL students were able to benefit from the experience as it offered the opportunity to learn from one another and expand their understanding of the industry in a global context, further preparing them to become world-ready graduates.
“I always want what is best for the students and to provide them with an engaging learning experience,” said Gould. “Looking at the broader macro environment of education in Scotland today, we were delighted to work with our new Canadian partners. In the post Brexit era, United Kingdom institutions will be gradually building more working relationships with educational institutions outside the European Union. Besides, Scots have a natural affinity with Canada. As well as the Scottish diaspora from the colonial era, we’re also aware that, geologically, North America and Scotland even used to be physically joined together millions of years ago!”
When reflecting on his motivation to become involved in this initiative, Bauer shared that he was employed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in various capacities prior to his employment as a professor of justice studies at Niagara College. One of his responsibilities was to provide training in immigration law to both seasoned CBSA officers, new recruits and other law enforcement professionals. He found addressing the latter group to be very rewarding.
“The participants often constructively questioned legal procedures, especially regarding controversial issues,” explained Bauer. “That type of interchange often brought in ideas and opinions that may not have been addressed from officers within our own agency. I thought that engaging with students from one of NC’s global partners who are in a similar justice studies program would likewise bring in new perspectives and supplement understanding of other forms of law.”
Bauer referenced the opportunity he had to discuss the issue of wrongful convictions in Canada with one of the NCL instructors.
“He discussed how political pressure in the UK may have played a factor in issues of some miscarriages of justice,” he shared. “It was an excellent discussion on how Canada and the UK dealt with one of the most egregious failures of the criminal justice system.”
Gould also felt that the experience was beneficial on a personal level. “It was rewarding working with John and discussing good practice such as how to better engage the learners online,” said Gould. “The topic was very intriguing. Social sciences staff generally have a strong sense of social justice, so it’s important to understand how flaws in eyewitness testimonies can have catastrophic consequences.”
As Canada’s leading global college, NC has many partnerships around the world and New College Lanarkshire is one of the latest partners to join this global network.
New College Lanakshire
With more than 10,000 students enrolled, New College Lanarkshire is one of the largest colleges in Scotland and has campuses in Cumbernauld, Motherwell, Coatbridge, Kirkintilloch, Hamilton and Broadwood.
On March 11, 2021, Niagara College signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the goal of allowing students, faculty and staff the opportunity to benefit from best practices in both Scotland and Canada’s applied education system.