Orientation & Retreat


The Graduate Affairs Committee, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Teaching Support Center, and the Geograd Society organize welcome and orientation activities for the incoming student cohort the week of Labour Day. Some of this is specific to Teaching Assistants while the rest applies to all new graduate students. The latter will include information on such things as: departmental offices, departmental resources, and health and safety. Some of this is self-directed (e.g., contact the Graduate Administrator to obtain office space and keys, activate computer and print accounts, get details about how to obtain ID card) while the rest involves both a meeting with your entire cohort and a full department casual "meet and greet". On the third Friday of term the cohort of incoming students goes on a Graduate Retreat (see below).

Geography's Orientation Day activities, Retreat, and Health and Safety session are mandatory for all new GeoGrad students. The Teaching Support Center's TA day is highly recommended for those of you who will be teaching assistants.

Orientation Itinerary 2023

Day and Time Location Item Who
Aug 30-Sept 2 (Wed-Sat)

International Student Orientation Day
International and Exchange Student Centre. 
International & Exchange students

School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies - check here for upcoming events

new & continuing grads
Day 1
Sept 1 (Fri)


SSC 1004

Welcome Message Grad Chair
(Godwin Arku)

new grads
12:15-12:30 SSC 1004 Health and Safety
(Erika Hill)
new grads
12:30-12:45 SSC 1004 Cartography
(Karen Van Kerkoerle)
new grads
12:45-1:15 SSC 1004 Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) new grads
1:15-1:45 SSC 1004 Graduate Teaching Assistants' Union -PSAC 610 new grads
1:45-2:00 SSC 1004 Centre for Teaching & Learning new grads
2:00-2:15 SSC 1004 Let's Talk Science new grads
2:15-2:30 SSC 1004 Health and Wellness new grads
2:30-2:45 SSC 1004 Mitacs new grads
Day 2
Sept 8 (Fri)


SSC 1004

Dr. Katrina Moser, Department Chair


Drs. James Voogt and Cortney Golkar-Dakin - GEOG 9998 - Debates in Geographic Thought

new grads
1:00-1:15 SSC 1004

Collaborative Program Specialization Information

Migration & Ethnic Relations
(Teresa Abada)

new grads
1:15-1:30 SSC 1004 Environment and Sustainability
(Paul Mensink)
new grads
1:30-1:45 SSC 1004 Hazards Risks and Resilience
(Craig Miller)
new grads
1:45-2:00 SSC 1004 Institute for Earth & Space Exploration
new grads
2:00-2:15 SSC 1004 Own Your Future
(Julie Jonkhans, SGPS)
new grads
2:15-3:00 SSC 1004 GeoGrad Society Co-Presidents new grads
3:00-4:00 SSC 1004 Meet and Greet all
Sept 5 (Tues) grad classes and undergrad classes start - make contact with instructor for whom you are the TA.
Check your course outline for start dates.
Sept 6 (Wed)
online TA Day - Centre for Teaching and Learning - graduate student teaching assistant workshop all TA's

Retreat Itinerary 2023

This year we will hold a one-day retreat at Stevenson Childrens Camp on Friday, September 15
In addition to the various departmental meetings and campus activities, all new students participate in a subsidized retreat where additional familiarization, briefing and program preparation are undertaken in an informal setting. The retreat is also meant to help students get to know their cohort of peers - which is typically 20-25 students - and to explore issues about being a grad student (at UWO). The Graduate Affairs Committee representatives and the new students are transported by arranged travel. Lunch is provided; participation is mandatory.  There is a $10 fee for the Retreat.

In accordance with Western policies, this is a mask friendly event.  You are permitted to wear a face mask at any part you like, but masking will not be mandatory.

Before We Go:

  1. FOOD ISSUES The event is catered, so notify the Graduate Administrator about any dietary issues or food allergies (by Sept 8).
  2. FEE The subsidy for this trip is substantial (thanks to a generous anonymous donor) leaving a balance to be paid by the student to the Graduate Administrator.
  3. WAIVER All students are required to sign a waiver. Return your completed waiver to the Graduate Administrator (by Sept 11).

What to bring:

  • face mask (optional)
  • appropriate clothing (could be cold, warm, wet or dry outside)
  • reusable coffee "travel" mug / water bottle
  • frisbee, soccer ball, volleyball (for free time)
  • bug repellent / sunscreen / hat (we will likely be outdoors)
  • clipboard and/ or note book, pens etc., for note taking
  • a positive attitude

There are three types of sessions – focus groups, team challenges and role-playing—each of which will generate student-centered discussions. Students will remain on the same team for all team challenges, but the groups will be mixed up for the other sessions.

The name(s) in bold—Arku, Metson, and/ or Johnson—will initiate and lead the event. Three of your senior peers will also join us, John Hutchenreuther, a first year PhD student, Reyhane Javanmard and Kavanagh Lambert, second year Master's students, and will assist us and participate in and/ or lead various sessions.