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Dr. Roberta Bondar

Sheridan's Creative Campus Series Welcomes Dr. Roberta Bondar

Nov 5, 2018
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On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, Sheridan welcomed Dr. Roberta Bondar, astronaut, physician, photographer, and the first Canadian woman and neurologist to fly in space to Sheridan. Dr. Bondar was the keynote speaker at Sheridan Creates, a Conference of Scholars, Creators and Innovators, held at the Davis Campus in Brampton. Sheridan Creates is part of the Creative Campus Series, sponsored by TD Bank Group.

Dr. Bondar delivered an inspiring keynote address that focused on the theme “New Horizons,” in which she encouraged the audience to live in the present moment, and to focus on making a better future for themselves and others. She cautioned against believing those who say that nothing new can be created.

Dr. Bondar talked about three components of optimizing learning experiences, which she called the “trilogy of learning” – the technology-based, digital experience, the in-person experience, and the in-work experience. “All three combine to optimize learning relationships, so this is what you need for creativity, in my view.”

She also spoke of the need to think globally. “When you are considering anything you do in life, online, anything else, it has a global impact. We need to allow people to reach out globally,” she said. “We also need to really consider encouraging people to become global citizens, because this is part of thinking ahead. This is part of becoming engaged in the future. If we don’t know what’s going on in other cultures, if we decide not to look at the news, if we decide to remain in a silo, and encourage students not to think globally, then we are not going to be able to optimize their learning experience.”

She spoke about the Core Skills for Innovation identified through research: technical; collaboration; communication; critical thinking; information management; creativity; and problem solving.

She contrasted these with five Contextual skills (or soft skills):  ethical awareness, cultural awareness, flexibility, self-discovery, and life-long learning, and says that these skills must not be overshadowed by the core skills. “We’re so interested in looking at core skills that are more technically based, that we forget about the ones that allow us to be more creative, that allow us to reach beyond what is that technically that we can do,” says Dr. Bondar.

Dr. Bondar also spoke about her foundation, which helps connect people to nature through photography, showing a photograph of an ice shelf before it started to show cracks, and said that educating people on global warming has to become personal to them. “These kinds of images really combine what we hope people will be able to do with education, that is to combine the art, science and technology to have a global impact.” She also talked about a few initiatives that her foundation is undertaking, such as trying to save endangered species such as the whooping crane, and photographing the lesser flamingo in Africa.

Dr. Bondar shared how her perception of the earth changed when she saw it from space. “It’s not just taking pretty pictures of the earth, it’s a deep understanding that it is a planet and that beyond planet earth, there’s this life sucking black, and stars that don’t twinkle because we’re so far above the atmosphere. It’s a different view of earth, a different view of life, it’s a different perspective of who we are, and where we are,” she said. “Looking at the new perspective, it was life changing, and this is what you want education to be.”

Talking about the trilogy of education, she said “There shouldn’t be one student who leaves Sheridan who hasn’t changed …you just want it to be in a positive direction. You want them to feel that the time they have spent here has been time well spent, that they have gained so much, that they have learned so much, that they have become different, that they can measure it somehow.” Following the keynote address was a Q & A session.

The Creative Campus Series first launched in 2015, featuring distinguished speakers from a range of disciplinary and professional backgrounds. Sheridan Creates is an event that celebrates Sheridan’s outstanding scholarly, research, and creative activities (SRCA). In addition to Dr. Bondar’s keynote presentation, this year’s Sheridan Creates event—the third of its kind at Sheridan—featured 29 concurrent presentations and workshops focused on SRCA projects across a variety of topics.

Pictured top right: Dr. Roberta Bondar.


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