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Principal Fortier, panellists talk student involvement in QI

Opportunities for student engagement in the Quartier de l’Innovation (QI) development project were a topic of a Nov. 6 webcast that allowed professors, alumni, and students to pose questions to a panel of experts on the project.

Launched in May 2013, the QI is an initiative that aims to turn Griffintown, a Montreal neighborhood, into a hub of research and innovation. Panellists at the event included McGill Principal Suzanne Fortier and three other representatives from École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) and McGill.

McGill Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) Rose Goldstein said students have contributed to the QI from its beginning and will continue to be an important factor in the development of the project. For example, last month’s Community Engagement Day events included activities to inform students about the QI project and the Griffintown neighbourhood.

According to Goldstein, certain QI projects will offer more opportunities for student engagement—for example, the Montreal Creativity Hub facilitates meetings between professionals, companies, and professors with a focus on generating innovative ideas and management strategies.

However, some students questioned the ability for them to become involved in QI due to travel limitations. Justin Leung, a McGill student, drew attention to the physical distance between the QI and the university.

“What different strategies, procedures, or different projects will McGill be undertaking in order bridge that gap?” Leung asked.

According to Fortier, the distance between the campuses is not necessarily a disadvantage.

“The challenge is because we’re not quite in an environment that is totally familiar to us,” Fortier said. “That distance from the McGill campus to the QI in fact can be a real opportunity, a real advantage, because we are going to get out of our campus and into this quartier [….] We want to offer our students this opportunity to learn outside of campus.”

As part of its initiative to promote creative solutions, the QI has already brought artists from the Montreal community together with small businesses and students to contribute to its goal to infuse the arts and creativity into all sectors of the project.

“Students are already involved and this is a platform where anyone can come­—including students—to use creativity tools to solve problems,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein also spoke on a project named the Centre for Culture and the Arts, which is led by Will Straw, an art history professor at McGill. According to Goldstein, the project aims to bring artists together with other artists, students, and creative small businesses, to develop creative solutions to issues businesses may face.

“So they’ll be looking at kind of a creativity hub—an urban culture hub where artists will also come together with other actors in the area to problem solve and to work with our students,” Goldstein said.

Fortier said the QI will be integrated into student life and academic curricula by implementing it as a learning platform.

“There will be a whole spectrum of activities, from research projects to bringing what students learn in the classroom into practice in the QI,” Fortier said. “Let’s make it as dynamic as possible.”

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