Engage Edmonton

Engage Edmonton is a service learning program for students who live in residence. We plan to offer service learning opportunities at least once a month, as well as various educational social justice events throughout the year through partnership with various initiatives both on campus and in the greater Edmonton community. Some of the issues we have explored in the past include houselessness, poverty, food insecurity, Indigenous-Canada relations, climate justice, and more.

Service learning

Service learning is an approach to learning that emerges from active engagement with the community, with the ultimate goal of working towards positive social change. Although volunteering and service learning both involve community service, service learning has a stronger focus on the intentional learning outcomes associated with that community service. A key aspect of service learning is reciprocity, which emphasizes that service placements should be mutually beneficial for students and campus/community partners.

Examples of past service learning activities students have engaged in through this program include sorting clothing donations, serving meals, packing food hampers, and other activities at various local not-for-profit organizations. Past virtual service learning activities include hosting an afterschool program for youth living in poverty and creating holiday cards for houseless seniors.

Social activism

Engage Edmonton’s social activism programming is geared towards those passionate about tackling local and global issues through raising awareness of it, increasing engagement, and facilitating education; this is a program designed for individuals who want to create real social change in the world around them.

Social activism programs and events might include documentary screenings, panel discussions, attending protests, and participating in letter writing campaigns for various social justice causes.

Engage Edmonton program

What makes the Engage Edmonton program unique is that we are a low-commitment program that boasts a high diversity of service learning opportunities. Students do not have to sign up to participate in every program offered throughout the year. Instead, they are able to sign up for as many - or as few! - events as they are interested in and able to attend. Engage Edmonton also works with dozens of local local not-for-profit organizations to provide a variety of service learning opportunities throughout the year.

Alternative Reading Week

Alternative Reading Weeks are week-long, immersive service learning programs that take place each semester during Reading Week. This year, Fall Alternative Reading Week will span Monday, November 7 - Thursday, November 10, 2022, whereas Winter Alternative Reading Week will span Tuesday, February 21 - Friday, February 24, 2023.

Throughout the program, students will participate in service learning opportunities, classroom lessons, and reflection activities centered around a different theme each semester. The theme for Fall Alternative Reading Week is Urban Poverty. Winter Alternative Reading Week’s theme is Youth Empowerment.

By participating in Alternative Reading Week, students will:

  • Evaluate their identities, values, and roles in relation to social issues and social justice in the Edmonton community;
  • Analyze stereotypes and stigma as it occurs on both an individual-level and on a societal-level in relation to the theme;
  • Apply leadership skills such as teamwork and values-based action to connect with their peers and others in the community;
  • Develop a sense of citizenship and recognize the role that individuals have in creating positive social change in their communities.

This is a competitive program, and only ten students are selected each semester. Applications open in late September/early October fall Fall Alternative Reading Week, and in early/mid January for Winter Alternative Reading Week.

Here’s an example of a past Alternative Reading Week schedule: Winter 2020 Alternative Reading Week Schedule.

Getting involved

Check out the Engage Edmonton website for the most up-to-date information on our Engage Edmonton program and Alternative Reading Week! This website is also where you can find all of the sign-up sheets for upcoming Engage Edmonton programs, and application forms for Alternative Reading Week.

NOTE: This website will be updated as we finalize details for the program. Please check back periodically!

Residents can also keep an eye on Expedition: Connect on eClass for announcements on upcoming Engage Edmonton programs and Alternative Reading Week.


Interested in learning more?

The Engage Edmonton program is facilitated through the support of Residence Life’s Diversity and Inclusion Intern. The Diversity and Inclusion Intern coordinates and leads the Engage Edmonton programs, Alternative Reading Week, and also serves as a great resource for students looking to organize service learning opportunities or social activism events for their communities.

If you have any questions about Engage Edmonton, Alternative Reading Week, or about organizing a service learning opportunity, please contact the Diversity and Inclusion Intern at slintern@ualberta.ca.