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 second weekend 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 2020

Day and Time Location Item Who
Sept 1 (Tues)
ZOOM International Student Orientation Day
International and Exchange Student Centre - Q/A Session for New Students - Registration is open!
International & Exchange students

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

new & continuing grads
Sept 3 (Thurs)

Welcome Message Grad Chair & Department Chair
(Jeff Hopkins & Jamie Voogt)

Debates in Geographic Thought
(Peter Ashmore & Jeff Hopkins)

new grads
12:15-12:30 ZOOM Health and Safety
(Erika Hill)
new grads
12:30-12:45 ZOOM Cartography
(Karen Van Kerkoerle)
new grads
12:45-1:15 ZOOM Society of Graduate Students (SOGS) new grads
1:15-1:45 ZOOM Graduate Teaching Assistants' Union -PSAC 610 new grads
1:45-2:00 ZOOM Centre for Teaching & Learning new grads
2:00-2:15 ZOOM Let's Talk About Science new grads
2:15-2:30 ZOOM Wellness and Wellbeing Education, Western Student Experience new grads
2:30-2:45 ZOOM Mitacs
(Katie Facecchia)
new grads
Sept 4 (Fri)
ZOOM Environment and Sustainability Collaborative Program Information
(Paul Mensink)
new grads
1:15-1:30 ZOOM Global Health Systems in Africa
(Nassisse Solomon)
new grads
1:30-1:45 ZOOM Hazards Risk and Resilience
(Craig Miller)
new grads
1:45-2:00 ZOOM Migration & Ethnic Relations
(Michael Hann)
new grads
2:00-2:15 ZOOM Planetary Science and Exploration
(Tabetha Sheppard)
new grads
2:15-2:30 ZOOM Own Your Future
(Julie Jonkhans, SGPS)
new grads
2:30-3:00 ZOOM GeoGrad Society Co-Presidents
(Sara Wilson & Jody Yu)
new grads
Sept 8 (Tues)
TA Day - Centre for Teaching and Learning - graduate student teaching assistant workshop all TA's
Sept 8 (Tues) grad classes and undergrad classes start - make contact with instructor for whom you are the TA.
Check your course outline for start dates.

Retreat Itinerary 2020

This year's retreat will operate a little differently than in previous years. This year we will hold four-one hour zoom sessions during the weeks of September 14 and 21. The italicized name in the title is the session leader.

Tuesday, September 15 - 9:00-10:00
Session #1: Grad School Goals & Concerns

(Prof. Voogt & Hopkins, with Carelle Mang-Benza (PhD Candidate) & Jack McIlraith (MSc Candidate)
Ice breaker Exercise:  Two Truths and One Lie (Grad Student)
Focus Groups:

  • What do you want from your graduate degree?
  • What are your concerns and expectations?

Wednesday, September 16 - 9:00-10:00
Session #2: Strategies for Achieving Goals

(Prof. Hopkins & Voogt, with Carelle Mang-Benza (PhD Candidate) & Austin Stastny (MSc Candidate)
Focus Groups
Topics to be based on goals and concerns identified in the first session, possibly including:

  • Publishing as a grad student
  • Career networking
  • Developing as an educator

Friday, September 18 - 9:00-10:00
Session #3: Strategies for Social Interaction

(Prof. Hopkins & Voogt, with Carelle Mang-Benza (PhD Candidate) & Austin Stastny (MSc Candidate)
(Two Grad Students)
Focus Groups

  • Interacting with your supervisor, peers, undergraduates
           (e.g. Role-playing exercise)
  • Health and well-being
  • Addressing harassment and conflict resolution (explicit this year
           (e.g. Various professional conflict scenarios delivered
                    Group discussion about potential resolutions)

Wednesday, September 23 - 9:00-10:00
Session #4: Research and Funding

(Prof. Voogt, with Vanessa Ambtman-Smith (PhD Candidate) & Austin Stastny (MSc Candidate)
Focus Groups

  • Program requirements
  • Funding and scholarships
  • Time management