With the start of the new academic year less than two months away, the excitement and energy is quickly growing. Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with many incoming KPE undergraduate students who will be joining our Faculty for the first time this fall. It was wonderful to connect with so many of you, and with some current students and faculty members who joined me in speaking with you. It was great to have such an interactive group of participants at our online session, and to have the opportunity to respond to your questions about what the university experience will be like this fall. The purpose of this communication is to further update all KPE undergraduate and graduate students on our preparations.
The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education has an amazing team of course instructors, whose capabilities are now being amplified with the integration of education technology specialists added to the Faculty over the last few months and weeks. And so, while we may not be able to all meet together on campus, don’t expect the course work will involve simply watching lectures online. We are at our most creative right now, preparing dynamic and innovative approaches for online teaching aligned with the high-quality educational standards that are a hallmark of the University of Toronto.
Our Bachelor of Kinesiology program will offer new courses and areas of concentration (certificates) that reflect the breadth and depth of the field of kinesiology and its growing relevance for global health. We are pleased to offer students a new optional Certificate in Physical Activity Instruction. This joins the Certificate in Global Kinesiology and Physical Education, launched this past year.
The following new elective courses are expanding the wealth of course options in our undergraduate calendar: Critical Sport Policy and Praxis, Innovations in Mobile Health, Injury and Orthopedic Biomechanics, Physical Culture and Poverty, Digital Activism, Sport and Social Movements, Minority Health: Theories and Research, Sports Law, Psychology of Body Image, Lifestyle Toxicity and Chronic Disease, Instrumentation and Signal Processing, Clinical Biomechanics of Low-Back Disorders, and Individual Differences in Multisensory Integration and Sensorimotor Functions. And new course additions to our graduate program calendar include Lifestyle Toxicity and Chronic Disease, Decolonizing Sport Studies, and Developing and Reviewing Research Protocols.
The Faculty will ensure that all KPE courses have a remote option available in the fall term, as needed. Hopefully everyone is now familiar with the terms “synchronous” (course content delivered online in real time) and “asynchronous” (course content delivered online and available for study at the convenience of the student). Accommodation will be provided to international students and students with approved accommodation requests who are unable to attend required synchronous and/or in-person sessions. The majority of synchronous courses will also include asynchronous components, in addition to the required readings, assignments and assessments.
Decisions about the framework for the delivery of winter term courses will be made and shared by late October.
Existing student support services will be available remotely, e.g., academic advising, counselling services, and the Health Science Writing Centre. In addition, technical support will be available to assist students in accessing and using technology for engaging in their academic courses.
It was gratifying to read the results of a recent survey of our current students and alumni, in which they described our Faculty as collegial, active, inclusive, connected, collaborative, close knit and “a family”. I think these attributes are more valuable than ever as we plan for the fall term, and our faculty and staff are working hard to ensure that our class engagement and connections among students and instructors will continue to set us apart from our peers.
That is why I am especially pleased to announce the launch this fall of a new initiative that will provide opportunities for KPE students to build connections with one another and with our professors and staff. This new program, KINections, includes four elements: student experience, career exploration, health and wellness, and mentorship by a KPE professor (organized for all incoming KPE students). There will be an intentional focus on equity, diversity and inclusion across all four elements. Undergraduate year 1 and year 2 online synchronous course activities will occur primarily Tuesdays through Thursdays (with some labs on Fridays) but Mondays and most Fridays will remain open for students to participate in the many different co-curricular KINections activities and events. KINections may be able to occur on campus (in keeping with Public Health guidelines) and many activities will also be accessible remotely for those who are not able to join us on campus. Watch for more details to be shared in August!
Like KPE, all divisions of the university are working hard to finalize fall plans for teaching, research and co-curricular activities. University of Toronto President Meric Gertler recently shared an update about the university’s preparations for the fall term. And the university’s very large sport and recreation division, operated by KPE, is also busy preparing a tremendous schedule of in-person and remote opportunities for students to be active and to build community. From aquatics to strength training and meditation to group fitness, whether at-home, in the gym or out on our fields, they really do offer something for everyone. Given one of the key themes of kinesiology, the benefits of regular physical activity and exercise, I encourage you to also “walk the talk” and take advantage of those opportunities!
In the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education we are committed to the provision of opportunity for personal and academic discovery, learning, work, improving health and for having fun. I have no doubt that this fall, while unlike any in our history in some ways, will also be one that we will celebrate for the effectiveness of the knowledge that we generate, teach and learn, for the connections we build, and for the creativity and innovation we demonstrate in doing so!
Ira Jacobs, dean of KPE