The realistic life plans #1 and #2 are going to have to wait longer. This is a companion to the fanciful Life Plan #3. First, the context…
I went out to Hats Off Day on Saturday. It’s the Burnaby Heights festival-thing. They close Hastings from Gamma to Boundary and have your general civic festivities: a parade, car show, local merchants, etc.
What I didn’t get many pictures of were the PR booths. These are pretty common anywhere there is a gathers. They are used by groups that want to get the word out one way or the other: BC Hydro Powersmart, local politicians, emergency preparedness, and so on. I did get a picture of the kids activity that Parks Canada had: kids put down forts and trading posts on the map and then they were told why it was/wasn’t a good place for one.
While I was out there, fresh off the SFU Open House, I started to think about the University’s public outreach activities. Or more to the point, our lack of them. Core premise to the line of thought here: the vast majority of the University’s budget comes out of the public purse in one way or another. (Sorry, but your tuition dollars are only like a third of the cost of your education.) The public should feel involved in what we do.
This brings us to Life Plan #4. It involves getting job that doesn’t actually exist: SFU Outreach Coordinator. The job would be to put together a roadshow that could go around to these things and show the community what we do, and subtly attempt to convince them that it’s important.
Many faculty members already do school visits (for their kids classes or whatever) and this might be a way to support those a little too. Presumably, this would also be the point person for the Open House.
If it was me, I’d put together a list of a dozen or two faculty members that had demos that could be taken out (either by them or their grad students) and would be understandable down to about 8 years old. There were a bunch of these at the Open House; it shouldn’t be too hard to find them. If there’s an understandable open question at the end of the demo, all the better.
At each community festival we can get to, take one or two research demos, preferably with faculty/grads who are actually part of that community. I’d pair that with some kind of “what SFU does” posters to give people an idea of what a university is actually for. We’d probably need swag or a prize draw to get people to the table too.
So there’s Life Plan #4: I want a job that doesn’t exist, paid for out of a budget that doesn’t exist, to do something that isn’t done.