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Member Showcase

Welcome to the CUPE 3908 Unit 1 Member Showcase page!

Our contract faculty members are involved with diverse academic work inside and outside of the classroom. Our members are not only committed to teaching, but as academics they are also committed researchers who must stay competitive in the sector. 

Know a CUPE 3908 member who you think should be profiled? 
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José Miguel García Ramírez, Modern Languages and Literatures

Each year Trent gives out two awards for excellence in teaching to CUPE members, one to a Unit 1 member, the CUPE 3908 Award for Excellence in Teaching, and one to a Unit 2 member, the Trent University Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance. 

José Miguel García Ramírez, the CUPE 3908 Award for Excellence in Teaching 2012 winner, is an instructor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Trent University. With a background in Psychology, Ramirez has been devoted to finding innovative ways to promote the interaction between students and faculty in the field of Spanish language. As a linguist and a language educator myself, I have been impressed with Ramírez’s dedication to language teaching. Therefore, I invited him to share with us his experience as a university instructor and his teaching philosophy. 

-- Shaoling Wang, Communications Officer, 2013

Writing a few lines about university life would normally mean talking about teaching and research, but what about emotions. What do we knowabout the emotions that are transmitted when we teach, regardless of our mood? What do we know about the effect of the emotions that we feelevery day in the classroom? Obviously, the knowledge that we transmit is important, but equally important is the way we transmit thisknowledge and the emotions play an important role in student motivation, being key in achieving satisfaction and efficiency of teaching. But theroots of knowledge are in the Humanities, in Philosophy. What would the university be without Humanities, without Philosophy, withoutSocratic thinking?

So when I was asked to write about my life at the university, what I teach and research, I decided to write about what I feel and think within theuniversity. It is rewarding to teach and also to present the results of research that I have conducted which, however insignificant, transmitsatisfaction and expectations of achievement. Such expectations engage students and motivate them to overcome barriers or solve problems,helping them to develop their creativity, critical thinking and social consciousness.

There are also moments that are not pleasant. One such moment for me was when I read the report of the external evaluation of the Departmentof Modern Languages and Literatures. To be honest, I felt sad; projects and initiatives that time and effort were devoted to, were not recognizedand certain areas were not even mentioned.

Despite this report, I still believe that external evaluations are positive and hope that the next report includes all the data, analyzes them andconcludes with a constructive, impartial proposal that helps us to improve the university and takes into account all those who dedicate theirlives to teaching and research. For me teaching is a profession that I live with enthusiasm.

Suresh Kandaswamy, Environmental and Resource Studies

Suresh Kandaswamy is by day the Program Manager at the Kawartha Heritage Conservancy, a small but active non-profit organization that works to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the Kawarthas. Two years ago, on the recommendation of Environmental and Resource Studies professor Stephen Hill, Suresh was approached by the ERST Department at Trent to teach a course in natural resource economics and project planning. With his two Master’s degrees, work experiences in business, environmental consulting and the non-profit sector, as well as his certification as a Project Management Professional, Suresh was offered the position to teach the course. And so Suresh became a member of CUPE 3908, one of many members dedicated to sharing their spec- ialized knowledge and experience through teaching at Trent.

Grateful for the opportunity to share his skills and knowledge, Suresh is also well-attuned to the realities of contract teaching. “I enjoy teaching and it is wonderful to be able to share my knowledge and experience with students. I try to combine both theory and practice in my teaching. I also learn a lot from teaching. It is challenging for sure but it also enhances my own skill set and knowledge. I almost view contract teaching like a hobby because you cannot make a living doing contract teaching alone. The amount of time required during the initial years to deve- lop the course, prepare lectures and assignments, and mark assignments can be quite a lot, which could result in a very low per hour rate. But once you have developed the course, it becomes a matter of  making it more effective based on student feedback and your own teaching experience.”

Suresh thinks there is significant potential for project managers to incorporate and advance principles of sustainable development through the projects they manage. “Many project managers are not conscious about incorporating environmentally friendly aspects into their projects. There are many ways to make projects green. For example, you can reduce project travel thereby reducing carbon emissions, or when making a purchasing decision, you can ensure that the products you buy are  environmentally friendly or the company you are dealing with has environmentally sustainable policies.” Suresh hopes to not only incorporate his vision for a more holistic approach to project management into his professional work but also be able to convey this to future project managers through his teaching.


Mark Dickinson, Canadian Studies

"Up Close on Lyric Ecology: An Appreciation of the Work of Jan Zwicky"

- Interview between John Rose (former CUPE 3908 President) and Mark Dickinson, 201

 I'm sitting with Frost Centre grad and Canadian Studies sessional instructor Mark Dickinson on a warm and leafy patio in early June. Over beer and snacks we're talking about Lyric Ecology, a compilation of twenty-five original essays that he co-edited with Clare Goulet, a course instructor in the English Department at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.

 Lyric Ecology, he explains, began as a panel presentation at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at York University in 2006. At the time, there were no published studies of Zwicky, this despite her having won a Governor General's Award for Songs for Relinquishing the Earth in 1999 and earned a double nomination for that same award in two categories (literature and philosophy) in 2004.

"Jan Zwicky is a rare combination of musician, philosopher and poet," he says. Her books,  many of them written in collage format, don't just open up new space for poetic and philosophical modes of thinking, but reinvent the very logic of the medium of print."

The book quickly grew from a handful of contributors to include writings from some of the finest poets and thinkers in the country, including Robert Bringhurst, Dennis Lee, Tim Lilburn adn Anne Simpson.

When I ask Dickinson what he finds personally compelling in Zwicky's work, he talks about the time he worked as a student caretaker of the Windy Pines Conference Centre, a property that the university owns in the Haliburton Highlands. This is when he first read  Zwicky's 1992 masterwork, Lyric Philosophy, and also where one of its core lessons was pressed home.

"I was lying down after lunch one day when I heard some scratching at the screen door. When I got up to see what it was, I was face to face with a large black bear."

This rendezvous in the woods was fitting, he says, because Zwicky's works revolve around the question fo just how much space we ought to cede to other forms of life.

"Who gets to live where, and according to what rules? By what rights and assumptions do we place ourselves over other nonhuman beings?"

These are some of the questions that Dickinson puts to his students in Canada: The Land (CAST 2040Y), which he'll be returning to teach this September. This class was for thirty-five years one of the university's flagship courses until Professor John Wadland's retirement in 2007. Dickinson, who apprenticed under Wadland as one of his teaching assistants in the last two years of his tenure, re-launched the course last year and was a finalist for a CUPE teaching award. He also teaches at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto.

Please check the link below to read more about Lyric Ecology and buy the book.

All royalties go towards offsetting the environmental impact of producing the book to make the process carbon neutral.

Last modified: 23-Feb-13

Seed Planting and Elections

03/26/19: Join us for a members meeting and seed planting!