Students propose internship credits

Isabelle Duchaine, ArtSci ’14, to lobby politics department

By Chloe Sobel

Assistant News Editor

Political studies students are pushing for external political work to be recognized by the University.

At Tuesday’s Political Studies Undergraduate Committee meeting, Isabelle Duchaine, Co-Chair of the politics Department Student Council, outlined her proposal for a POLS internship course.

The course would allow outside internships to be counted as academic work. A faculty member whose specialization is relevant to the internship would be assigned to oversee the student’s work. At the end of the term, the student would submit an assignment detailing what they did throughout their internship.

The course would be graded on a pass or fail basis.

If implemented, political studies would follow in the footsteps of many other equivalent programs in Canada, including those at University of Waterloo,

University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

The department of global development studies has a similar work-study program, and FILM 395 also allows students to receive official credit for internships.

“It is rare for students to propose the addition of courses at Queen’s,” Duchaine, ArtSci ’14, said.

“It’s usually quite a long process, so in that sense it can be very intimidating, and there’s a lot of bureaucracy surrounding it,” she said.

She added the course has been approved by the Political Studies Undergraduate Committee, and now will need the approval of the political studies department, after which it will be finalized by the Faculty of Arts and Science.

Because of how long this process takes, Duchaine said she doesn’t foresee the course — if approved — beginning until

sometime in 2015.

“The people I’ve spoken to at the department of political studies as well as the Faculty of Arts and Science have been very supportive of the idea,” she said.

Many universities in Ontario have equivalent internship programs.

“There’s a provincial impetus to implement more of these courses,” she said.

“It’s a direction that Queen’s has pointed out in their Strategic Enrolment Management Group that they really want to move in.”

Duchaine said she was inspired to propose the course based on personal experience working full-time for the AMS, as well as the experiences of others.

“I dropped a 400-level seminar on political communications because I was spending … the entire month of March, when I was supposed to be having class, in Toronto meeting with MPPs,” Duchaine said.

“I can see how relevant some of the material in class is … when you’re in a meeting and you’re like, oh my gosh, that’s just like what we talked about in this reading that I did.”

Before the next Undergraduate Committee meeting on Feb. 21, where she will make the draft proposal, Duchaine said she will gather the stories of current students and alumni, asking about their internship experiences.

She will also develop the learning hours — courses are required to have 120 to 140 learning hours, including class time, assignments, and readings — and consult professors.

“The students are asking for it in a way that I don’t think they would have 10 or 15 years ago,” Duchaine said.

“There’s so many more students attending university, you kind of need something to differentiate you.”

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