Welcome to the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University.
For over twenty years, Lakehead University has been collaborating with the University of Windsor and Brock University to offer a unique doctoral program that builds on our shared expertise and the particular strengths of each of our faculties. Over the past year we have delivered the program online, and in the interest of health and safety, will remain in the virtual realm over the coming Summer Session.
The decision to stay online will be disappointing to many people involved in the program, and understandably so. Education is built on the relationships that develop between people as they work together to understand, and then challenge, the ideas and practices that underpin contemporary education. Having made the decision to stay online, however, it is important to recognize that the online skills we have developed over recent months will serve us well, allowing us to navigate the learning journey together.
The work that you are undertaking this Summer is important, for the simple reason that ideas are important. Ideas also have the annoying habit of being perplexing, as Lewis Carroll so eloquently described in Alice in Wonderland:
‘It seems very pretty,’ she said when she had finished it, ‘but it’s rather hard to understand!’ (You see, she didn’t like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) ‘Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas – only I don’t exactly know what they are!
As Alice experienced, the ideas you ponder and explore will be complex, diverse, historical, contradictory, and controversial; this is what makes them interesting. In pursuing such ideas we help shape the future; a future that will need to be increasingly responsive to the needs of people, communities, societies, and crucially, the natural world. Doctoral studies open opportunities to ask difficult questions – even if we do not know exactly what our specific questions are at the moment. Doctoral studies provide the tools needed to develop and answer those questions – even as we sometimes have to admit that we can’t make it out at all. Finally, doctoral studies will spur further collaboration and inquiry – generating new knowledge, practices, and relationships as we build networks across disciplines, the province, and the world.
So, wherever you are, welcome to the Joint PhD Summer Sessions. Enjoy the time together with your peers and instructors. Do your best to nurture friendships and collegial partnerships that will spur curiosity and provide ongoing support for this Session and for the years ahead. Most important of all, look after yourself and your loved ones over the coming months.