Aryan Azmi


Master's of Public Health, 2nd Year (Graduating)

Course: SPH 504 (Fall 2021) with Instructors Rebecca Gokiert & Pieter de Vos

Who was your community partner and can you describe the project objectives? 

The project was with the City of Edmonton. This project was part of a City of Edmonton initiative called Engaged Edmonton. Engaged Edmonton is The City’s virtual arm of engagement assessment, which is used after the City has an information session about a public project. As part of Engaged Edmonton, feedback from the attendees are sought and then that feedback is analyzed, and shared with the project partners so that they can have an idea of what the public opinion was of their project and presentation. The City used to conduct most of its engagement assessment in person. But ever since COVID, it’s all been online. The problem was, before things went online, online engagement assessment was a smaller portion of The City’s evaluation and collection protocols. But now because of COVID, they wanted us to look at their online tool for Engaged Edmonton and see how we can make it more meaningful.

What was your biggest takeaway from your CSL placement? 

For me, the biggest takeaway was learning how to navigate competing visions for the same project. In the beginning of the placement, it was not very clear what direction this project was going to go where both us as the students working on the project and The City had different visions and ideas for the project and we had to come to a collaborative agreement as to how we would want to proceed. This process was extremely helpful in the long run because as soon as we realized what needed to be done, the rest of the work just fell into place. Consequently, these days I put a lot of effort in the beginning of my project to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page before moving forward with tasks.

How can you apply any newly gained knowledge/skills to your future endeavours (courses/employment/volunteering)?

From a career standpoint, sometimes you’ll get to work with people that have over 20 or 30 years of experience in a certain area. As a student or recent graduate, this would mean that some of these folks may not take you as seriously as they should. While understandable, getting involved with projects like this gives you valuable real-world knowledge that can bridge some of this gap in experience. I think CSL projects definitely give you a leg up in your career because you’ll have that extra bit of hands-on experience. Also, I think projects like this give you some confidence where you can say to yourself; “Okay, I’ve done this before, it’s not that scary.”

What are some of the ways that COVID-19 has affected your community partner or your placement? 

This project was ultimately about a virtual tool. So, at the end of the day, a shift to a virtual setting because of COVID-19 didn’t really change much about it. COVID-19 has, however, changed the amount of participation the City of Edmonton was getting in general. When meetings were in person, just due the fact that they were in person, a lot more people were inclined to fill out the forms for their participation just because they were there. Whereas when events are online, people will say they'll fill out the feedback forms and then they end up not doing so. That’s just the natural apathy that can happen when people are not actually present in person. This COVID-related decline in participation was one of the challenges that we’re having, and that’s something that we tried to work into the measurement tools that we created for the City.