Faculty Involvement

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Add an Experiential Element to the Classroom

Faculty members can become involved in Experiential Education (EE) in a number of ways:

  • Identify one of your promising students and encourage them to apply for an Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA). Assist by supervising/mentoring them through the research process.
  • Incorporate an experiential placement or project into a course with Academic Placements, allowing your students the opportunity to gain practical experience linked to the theories learned in class, while contributing to the community around them.
  • Apply for the In-Course Experience Fund which provides financial support to help you build Experiential Education (EE) activities into your courses (see below for more information).
  • Support an eager student applying for a Student Experience Fund by mentoring them through their learning experience, providing guidance in writing their learning plan, and/or writing a letter of support for their experience.

Important Information

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Faculty can share input and expertise

  • Share your input and expertise with us by sitting on one of our committees:
    • Experiential Education Governing Council (EEGC)– help determine the direction of experiential learning in Social Sciences through this faculty and student committee that meets twice
      per academic year.
    • Undergraduate Student Research Award Review Committee– review a selection
      of USRA applications each year in February.
    • Student Experience Fund Review Committee– review applications several times
      over the year to allocate funds for student experiential learning opportunities.
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Undergraduate Student Research Award

The McMaster Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are intended to cultivate and support research partnerships between undergraduate students and faculty members. The award provides you with an opportunity to receive funds to cover research-based activity during the Fall/Winter or Summer Term.


Learn More about URSA

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Academic Placements or Community-Engaged Education

Community-engaged experiences may be placement-based (where students attend weekly) or project-based (where students connect with the host organization for mentorship in the project but may not visit the organization regularly).


They engage individual or groups of students in unpaid, community-based/volunteer placements or projects that directly relate to a specific academic course and are negotiated between the host organization and EE to find opportunities that are mutually beneficial in fulfilling the needs of the organization and the course objectives.


Academic placements and projects provide students an opportunity to:

  • Enrich the classroom experience by allowing them to be an active participant in learning
  • Apply classroom learning to practical, hands-on experiences
  • Learn more about and contribute to the community around them
  • Expand their network of contacts and build their resume


How to Get Started

To best support you and your students, we ask that all faculty/instructors who wish to explore community-engaged education placements or projects (with the support of CEE) for the academic year, please email Ruthanne Talbot at talbotr@mcmaster.ca by the following dates:

  • Monday, June 11 (for classes commencing September)
  • Monday, October 1 (for classes commencing January)

Courses do not need to be fully planned to submit this form, but we do need to know who may be interested in working with us in the coming terms to allow enough time for planning and outreach. If you are in the exploratory stages of planning and would like to meet to discuss options before completing this form, please email Ruthanne Talbot at talbotr@mcmaster.ca by the above dates.


Community-engagement supports on campus

Community-Engaged Education in Courses

Office of Community Engagement
Field Trips
  • McMaster’s Human Resources Services determines all health and safety requirements for field trips, including the RMM 801 form. Visit the McMaster HR website for the most accurate, up-to-date information.
Questions regarding Academic Placements? Contact:

Ruthanne Talbot

Experiential Program Manager


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In Course Experience Fund

The Faculty of Social Sciences’ new In-Course Experience Fund supports instructors in building experiential education (EE) activities into their undergraduate social sciences courses. It can also support chairs/directors in building EE into their departments/programs. Beginning Spring 2021, funding will be available by application to instructors, chairs and directors for Spring/Summer, Fall, and Winter courses each budget year.


Each instructor can typically apply for up to $1000 per semester of In-Course Experience Funding, with the possibility of greater amounts on a case-by-case basis.

Departments may collectively request greater amounts for departmental or multi-course initiatives. (The amount available in each semester will depend on demand and on take-up to date during the budget year.)


This funding builds on the past success of the Student Experience Fund, which supports individual students (or groups) to offset costs associated with activities such as attending or presenting at conferences, volunteering abroad, or similar experiences.


Purpose of the In-Course Experience Fund

The In-Course Experience Fund allows instructors, faculty members, or departments/schools in the Faculty of Social Sciences an opportunity to request funding to support academic elements in the following categories within the ambit of careers and experiential education:


  • Work-integrated learning: experiences in a workplace or simulated workplace.
  • Community-engaged learning: experiences involving partners external to the Faculty.
  • Hands-on learning: experiences focused on practical techniques, tools and application.
  • Career development: aimed at career exploration, planning or preparation.
  • Skill development: experiences fostering transferable skills beyond core academic skills.

Ideas that you may consider building into your undergraduate social sciences course include:

  • Virtual immersive or interactive experiences.
  • A virtual workshop/conference/symposium/talk.
  • An honorarium for a virtual guest speaker/trainer.
  • Virtual tours.
  • Community-engaged learning experience.
  • Other similar experiential ideas.

This is not an exhaustive list. The experiential learning support team are open to other ideas you may have.


Funds are available to reimburse the following costs:

  • Cost of materials or supplies.
  • Software or website licenses.
  • Cost of marketing and promotions for the activity.
  • Admission fees associated with attendance at an activity or event (virtual experience, museum or site tour, workshop, simulation, etc.).
  • A taxable honorarium for a partner, such as a guest speaker or trainer – arranged in coordination with Social Sciences Finances and McMaster Human Resources, via a process that requires the partner’s social insurance number.
  • A non-taxable thank-you gift for a virtual guest speaker/trainer.
  • Payment of an invoice for service to a virtual guest speaker/trainer operating as part of a registered business.
    Small-to-medium technology purchases.

Funds are not available for reimbursing the following:

  • Temporary/casual staff, RA positions or TA positions; staffing resources are determined in consultation between Chairs and Directors and the Dean’s Office.
  • Medium-to-large technology purchases. Any such larger technology requests may need to be referred to the Information Technology team.


How to Make a Request

Applications can be submitted by email. Please include the following information:

  1. What is the Course Code and Course Name?
  2. How many students total are enrolled/will be impacted?
  3. Will the experience be a required or optional part of the course?
  4. Will students from outside of the course be invited to participate? If so, who?
  5. What proportion of the participating students are expected to be Social Sciences students?
  6. Can you please provide a brief explanation of the experience?
  7. Into which of the categories (listed above) does the experience fit?
  8. What is the total cost with an estimated breakdown (typically up to $1000)? See Guide for Payments information below.
  9. Who from the department/program will provide administrative support?
  10. How will students be asked to reflect on the experience?

Please review the Guide for Payments before submitting your application to ensure you are aware of how payments are to be made to guest speakers and other outside supports you may request. You may wish to inform partners in advance of tax implications and whether their Social Insurance Number (SIN) is needed.


To request funding

Please email your application information to Ruthanne Talbot, Experiential Program Manager, at talbotr@mcmaster.ca and copy your Chair/Director.


Questions about the funding

Please email your questions to Mark Busser, Manager, Careers & Experiential Education at bussermp@mcmaster.ca.

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Student Experience Fund

The Student Experience Fund is designed to provide financial support for students to participate in experiential learning opportunities that allow them to engage in practical applications of theories learned through their Social Sciences education.


Student Eligibility

Activities offered through Experiential Education (EE) are available to students who meet our EE eligibility requirements. Additionally, students who have already received two (2) Student Experience Grants are not eligible to apply for or receive funding.


The activities associated with the grant can occur up until August 31 of the current academic year, except for students in their final year, who can only apply for funds if the experience will conclude prior to the completion of their degree requirements (e.g., Students whose final academic term ends April 30, can only apply if their experience will be completed by April 30 of that year).


Eligible Activities

All experiences must include a hands-on, experiential element where the student is actively participating in or contributing to an activity.

Funding has been granted in the past to some of the following types of activities:

  • Presenting at conferences
  • Attending conferences (Students must clearly articulate the hands-on components of the conference. The conference cannot simply be for knowledge acquisition.)
  • Local, national, and international extra-curricular learning opportunities such as volunteering abroad, experiences while on academic exchange, etc.
  • Faculty-supervised, non-credit, independent research or fieldwork (Funding is not intended to support volunteer research assistant positions for faculty members)
  • Ideas to enhance student-driven departmental initiatives (Must include a letter of support from the Department Chair/Director)
  • Ideas to work with community partners on community-based initiatives (Must include a letter of support from the community partner)
Deadline Dates

Applications will be accepted at the following deadlines:

  • TBD for 2022-2023

Applications must be submitted before 4PM on the deadline date. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.


For complete information about the Student Experience Fund, including application information, view the Student Experience Fund Student Information document.

Contact Us

Ruthanne Talbot Headshot

Ruthanne Talbot

Mark Busser

Mark Busser