Teaching What's Important: Educating Students for Today and Tomorrow

Description: A one-day symposium for McGill instructors, focusing on strategies inside and outside the classroom.

Highlights from the symposium »


  • Registration begins at 8:30. Coffee and tea will be served.
  • Morning session (9:00am-12:30pm)
    • Opening panel: Aspirations for undergraduate education: What's the most important thing for students to learn at McGill?
      Moderated by Bruce Lennox, Dean, Faculty of Science
      • Ken Dryden, Professor of Practice, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

      • Elena Bennett, Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resource Sciences & McGill School of Environment

      • Alan Chen, Undergraduate student, Interfaculty Program in Sustainability, Science and Society

    • Professor-student showcaseHighlights from inside and outside the classroom
      To highlight the work already being done at McGill, pairs of students and professors will reflect on a meaningful instructional experience they have shared and provide examples of how their aspirations are being translated into real educational experiences, inside and outside the classroom.

  • Networking lunch, provided (12:30-1:30pm): an opportunity to meet colleagues from across the university and exchange ideas
  • Afternoon session (1:30-4:00pm)
    • ​Teaching lab: Interactive session for faculty members interested in developing their own strategies for promoting meaningful student learning 
      • Presentation by Teaching and Learning Services of guidelines for assignment and activity design

      • Individual and group work on assignments and activities (including identification of meaningful learning outcomes and relevant pedagogical strategy)

Opening Panel

Bruce LennoxPhoto: Owen Egan

Bruce Lennox

Dean, Faculty of Science

R.B. Lennox (Tomlinson Professor of Chemistry) started at McGill in 1987 after completing his BSc., MSc., and PhD (Chemistry) at the University of Toronto and an NSERC PDF at Imperial College, London. Lennox’s research focuses on the design and synthesis of nanomaterials, with applications in biophysical devices, ‘smart’ nanocomposites, and biosensors. Lennox has had a career--‐long interest in teaching and learning innovations in Organic Chemistry, Advanced Materials, and Nanoscience. He was awarded the Faculty of Science Leo Yaffe Teaching Award. His courses emphasize making interdisciplinary connections, the development of a student’s ‘scientific (chemical) intuition’, and making the connections between theoretical and experimental aspects of science. He is particularly dedicated to providing undergraduates with research experience. Prior to his current position of Dean of Science, Lennox served as Director of Graduate Studies for 5 years, Chair of the Dept. of Chemistry for 11 years.

Ken DrydenPhoto: Owen Egan

Ken Dryden

Professor of Practice, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada

Ken Dryden was a Member of Parliament and was Minister of Social Development in the Martin government.  He played goal for the Montreal Canadiens during the 1970s, during which time the team won six Stanley Cups, and was a member of Team Canada 1972.  He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, and is the author of six books, including The Game and, most recently, Becoming Canada.  He teaches at McGill, Calgary, Ryerson and Saskatchewan universities.  He and his wife, Lynda, live in Toronto and have two children.

Elena Bennett
Personal photo

Elena Bennett

Associate Professor, Department of Natural Resource Sciences & McGill School of Environment

Dr. Elena Bennett received her BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1994, earned her MSc in Land Resources in 1999 (U. Wisconsin) and her PhD in Limnology and Marine Sciences in 2002 (U. Wisconsin). She is respected as an expert in ecosystem services (benefits that people obtain from nature) and is co-chair of the international project ecoSERVICES, which aims to set the research agenda for ecosystem services for the coming decade.  She has received over $2 million in grants to support her research, and published over 75 peer-reviewed articles on her work. Dr. Bennett was a Leopold Leadership Fellow (2012), and received training from this group in leadership and communication, and was recently named a Trottier Public Policy Professor (2013-2014).  She won the Macdonald Campus Award for (Undergraduate) Teaching Excellence in 2012 and the Carrie M. Derick Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision in 2013.

Alan ChenPhoto: Manli Que

Alan Chen

Undergraduate student, Interfaculty Program in Sustainability, Science and Society

Alan works as the Director for the McGill Spaces Project, a collaborative placemaking organization that seeks to reimagine underused campus spaces on McGill's downtown campus and transform them into vibrant community engagement hubs. While pursuing an honours degree in Sustainability and Urban Systems at McGill, Alan also sits as a member of the McGill Sustainability Projects Fund Working Group which works to assess sustainability project funding applications. Alan is an infectiously enthusiastic individual that delights in complexity and nurtures an earnest intent to create positive change. He is profoundly passionate about sustainability and its intersections with urban design, social innovation, and their roles together in building strong communities.

Professor-Student Showcase




Caroline Begg

Caroline Begg

Caroline Begg, Ph.D.is a Faculty Lecturer in the Department of Plant Science and Director of Stage (FMT). Her main interest is in ecological agriculture; other research interests include the relationships between spatial patterns of crop and soil parameters in agricultural fields. Dr Begg conducts research on food security on the island of Montreal and on ecological agriculture practices focusing on soil and crop management. She is the mentor to two Macdonald campus clubs; the Macdonald Student-Run Ecological Garden (MSEG), and the Farm-to-School group. The student groups have received the McGill Office for Sustainability Catalyst Award (2012 and 2014). Caroline teaches several courses including Agro-Ecosystems Field Course (AGRI 215), Principles of Ecological Agriculture (AGRI 340), Ecosystem Management (ENVB 415) and others.

Valérie Toupin-Dubé

Valérie Toupin-Dubé is a U4 student in Agriculture and Environment, specialized in ecological agriculture and professional agrology. She is from from Oka, Quebec, and is deeply passionate about ecological agriculture and alternative teaching in science using agriculture, following the footsteps of her great-grandfather, who was a teacher at the Oka Abbaye in the 1900s.

From 2013 to 2014, she was a key leader in developing The Macdonald Student run-Ecological Garden (MSEG), which earned her the Gold Key award, helping to create a sustainable garden. In 2014, she has developed the Farm to School (FTS) program in the summer, supervised by Caroline Begg. The FTS summer program is for children, volunteer youth, and intellectually challenged students. For all her dedication towards community building and student leadership, she won the Gretta Chambers Award in 2015.

Valérie Toupin-Dubé

Marta Cerruti

Marta Cerruti

Marta Cerruti is Associate Professor at McGill University, in the Department of Mining and Materials Engineering. Since 2011, she is Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Bio-synthetic interfaces. Her research focuses on understanding and controlling the interactions occurring between material surfaces and biomolecules or cells. She has received numerous awards, among which the 2014 Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation (ISSNAF). She has an h-index of 15 and 46 papers published on journals including Nanoscale, Biomaterials, and Advanced Materials, two book chapters, and reported two inventions, one of which has now been deposited as a provisional patent application. Her excellent recognition is testified by the numerous invited talks she has given at Universities from all over the world, international meetings, and symposia and meetings that she has organized. She has been member of NSERC and HSF selection committees and is routinely invited to review NSERC grants, as well as grants from Italy and France. Her research and opinions have been featured on popular media such as the Journal de Montreal (2013) and Canadian Business (2014).

Richard Church

Richard is a U4 Materials Engineering Student from Calgary, AB. He began his time at McGill as a U0 in the General Engineering Program before choosing to join the Materials Program at the end of his first year. During his time in the program he has gathered industrial working experience at Pratt & Whitney Canada and has performed research in the fields of thermodynamic optimization and advanced materials development as part of the Materials Engineering CO-OP program. He is currently finishing his last CO-OP project developing graphene oxide composites under the guidance of Professor Marta Cerruti, and will graduate following the Winter 2016 semester.

Richard Church

Andre Costopoulos

André Costopoulos

As McGill’s Dean of Students, Dr. Costopoulos facilitates the exchange, development and dissemination of best practices in a number of priority areas: academic advising and mentoring; academic integrity and the responsible conduct of research; the ongoing revision and evolution of the Code of Student Conduct; diversity in the classroom and on campus; the integration of students from under-represented communities at McGill; and the promotion of a community centered on learning. Professor Costopoulos has been a member of the Department of Anthropology at McGill since 2003.  He studies human adaptation to environmental change in the North in the past 6000 years and the application of evolutionary theory and computer simulation methods to the study of human evolution. He led a major international collaborative research project during the International Polar Year, has co-edited a collection on the state of the art of computer simulation in Archaeology, and has published articles and book chapters on northern prehistory, cultural evolution and environmental change, among other subjects.

Rachel van Vliet

Rachel van Vliet is a second year Anthropology student at McGill University. She intends to complete a double minor in Natural History and Biology for Arts Students in order to go on to study Biological Anthropology. She is particularly interested in this branch of anthropology, with a focus on cetacean and primate behaviour as well as the evolution of cooperation.

Rachel van Vliet

Patricia Hewlin

Patricia Hewlin

Professor Hewlin primarily teaches Leadership and Leadership Practicum, which is an applied course in which students work 8 hours and week for social sector organizations in Montreal. Professor Hewlin also conducts research on how members and leaders engage in authentic expression, as well as factors that impede authenticity in every day work interactions. Her research centers on employee silence, and the degree to which members suppress personal values and pretend to embrace those of the organization, a behavior she has termed as “creating facades of conformity”. Her research interests also span to gaining insight on leadership dynamics in the workplace.

Sarah Devine

Sarah Devine is honored to share her experience with Professor Hewlin’s “Playing to Your Strengths” assignment as part of the Professor-Student showcase. She is currently in her final year as an undergraduate student at the Desautels Faculty of Management, and in May will receive a Bachelor of Commerce degree with concentrations in International Business and Organizational Behavior. Sarah is the President and Co-Founder of the MUS OB/HR Network, and is also a Peer Ambassador for Desautels Career Services.  Sarah plans to pursue a career in Human Resources when she returns home to the United States upon graduation.

Sarah Devine

Kwong Li

Kwong Li

Upon graduation in 1990 from the McGill Faculty of Dentistry, Dr. Li has devoted his full time practice to providing dental care to medically and/or physically compromised Individuals. Using specially designed portable units, Dr. Li and his team are able to provide on-site dental care within various long term care centers within the greater Montreal region.

Since its inception,  Dr. Li has been a volunteer within the McGill Dental Outreach Program and helps direct the community mobile clinics portion of the program. His duties involve overseeing the functioning of the equipment, as well as instruction and supervision of the dental students during the clinics. 

Ryan Siciliano

I am currently a second year dental student at McGill. I have previously completed a B.Sc (physiology and math, 2012) and a B.A. (computer science, 2014) at McGill. During this time I have been involved in many different community initiatives, but the McGill Dental Outreach has been the most personally rewarding and stimulating. I was born in Montreal, but I grew up in Whitby, Ontario. During the winter I snowboard and play hockey and during the summer I enjoy soccer and biking. My favorite year-round past time is playing squash.

Ryan Siciliano




McGill University is on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabeg nations. We acknowledge and thank the diverse Indigenous people whose footsteps have marked this territory on which peoples of the world now gather.