Building Community at Athabasca University

At times, a sense of connection to fellow students—or the university itself—may feel like an impossibility in AU’s digital sphere.  Although this style of asynchronous, accessible, flexible—and open—learning works well for many students’ busy and diverse lives, a sense of community is increasingly becoming sought after in today’s isolated world.  Throughout my years at AU, I have slowly learned how to connect with fellow learners, tutors, and faculty in creative ways perhaps as a result of—not despite—this online space.  If you permit me, I would like to share them with you.

  • Join Unofficial Athabasca University Social Media Groups – These types of groups are great for networking and obtaining advice from fellow students on favourite courses, study tips, and more. At times, you may see calls for in-person meet ups study groups, as well as online options for rural, remote, and Covid-conscious learners.
  • Get Involved in Writing for The Voice Magazine – Our editor, Karl, is always looking for new writers to share their diverse views with fellow students.  Perhaps you would like to contribute a one-time article, you have a great idea for a new weekly column, or you would just like to chat some ideas through.  Please get in touch; no experience is required.  Getting involved in the student paper is a great way to meet fellow learners and develop your writing skills.  And if you are still not sure about penning that next feature article, please feel free to reach out to me anytime if you would like your story featured in an upcoming Minds We Meet interview—where The Voice Magazine features the AU journeys of readers like you.
  • Inquire about AU Research OpportunitiesAU “researchers often hire research assistants to help further their academic research.” Applying for an AU research position is a great way to get involved on the university level, connect with AU tutors and faculty, as well as build one’s resume for future career opportunities and graduate level courses.
  • Attend AU Events and Webinars – Periodically, AU will offer various events, such as town halls, writing forums, and research presentations. AU’s The Hub is great way to keep up-to-date with the latest news and offerings.
  • Enter Competitions – Events, such as research competitions on the national and international scale, are advertised on Athabasca University’s website and official social media channels. In addition, the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Union (AUGSA) puts on a yearly graduate student research conference yearly, which is often also open to undergraduates.
  • Join the Undergraduate or Graduate Student Unions – For those students who would like to advocate for fellow students, join committees, volunteer periodically, or attend events, the Athabasca University Students’ Union (AUSU) and the Athabasca University Graduate Students’ Union (AUGSA) are an option. (Full disclosure, this writer is a part of AUSU).
  • Connect with Nukskatowin – Indigenous students at AU may be interested in connecting with Nukskahtowin, a centre for Indigenous learners, which lists programs, courses, resources, and faculty. There are also periodic events provided for students.
  • Check Out AU Press – For students who would like to learn more about the latest available academic work, be sure to review what is being published by AU Press, a publisher “committed to making research and scholarship freely accessible through the publication of books and journals in open access.”
  • Visit Athabasca Campus – Finally, for students in the region, visiting the AU campus to feel an increased connection to our institution is also a possibility. Many students will have this opportunity soon, during June convocation, although an accessible hybrid online option is also available.

How have you found community at AU?