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The Benefits of Having a Practitioner-in-residence

There’s something refreshing about learning from an expert in your academic field. In 2015, Laurier’s political science department introduced a practitioner-in-residence appointment, designed to bring the knowledge and life experience of a dynamic career into the classroom.

Dr. John Milloy, former Ontario Minister of Training Colleges & Universities, Member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener Centre, and former senior advisor to Prime Minister Jean Chretien is Laurier’s first practitioner-in-residence. While in this role, John also serves as a professor of public ethics and co-director of the Centre of Public Ethics at the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

John’s role as practitioner-in-residence allows him to provide insightful public lectures, develop and execute practical politics workshops for the Laurier community, mentor students, and speak with authority on a variety of topics as a guest lecturer. John provides political science students with lessons uniquely informed from his years in public life. This practical experience provides an additional level of depth to academic instruction extremely valuable for students interested in pursuing careers in politics or civil service.

Last year I had the opportunity to take Canadian Questions, a cross-registered course which included graduate and undergraduate level students offered as part of the Global Citizenship and Masters of Theology programs. John’s course examined critical issues such as climate change, arms deals, the economy and pipelines, and challenged his students to explore not only the public responses, but also that of faith-based groups. This course encouraged students to conduct their own research, learn more about faith-based groups within Canada, and develop a proposed solution to their assigned topic. John incorporated experts from a variety of fields to participate during the presentations of student research.  Throughout the course John also shared several of the demands of a political career.  As a person of faith, John often sought compromises between public policy and his personal beliefs, a poignant example of how to approach politics with integrity, and represent a variety of perspectives and opinions. His own personal story allows for student to better understand the demands that come with life in the public service.

Perhaps one of the most important things John has done since he came to Laurier is connect the Seminary and the Department of Political Science. This partnership allows students from both disciplines to learn more about each field of study, and witness the benefits of collaboration

A practitioner-in-residence enhances the educational experience of students. I’ll be honest, it was refreshing to have a professor who was not an academic with a traditional background. It was also refreshing to learn from somebody who has actively worked in a field which interests me. John's role as practitioner-in-residence is without a doubt a benefit to students in both the Seminary and the political science department. I would challenge schools across Ontario to engage in similar partnerships which enhance the academic experience, and provide unique mentorship opportunities.