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Psychology, ESL students collaborate on community art project

PhotoVoice art project asks: What does it mean to be a young person in 2016?
By: Will Sloan
November 23, 2016

The third annual PhotoVoice event takes place in the SLC amphitheatre on November 23.

What does it mean to be a young person in 2016? Students from Ryerson’s Social Psychology course and the ESL Foundation Program will explore this question in the third-annual PhotoVoice event.

The community-based art project asks students to take a photograph in response to a question, and then write a narrative that explains the photo. Students will display their work at the Student Learning Centre (SLC) amphitheatre on November 23.

“If you look across the photos, there are specific themes that emerge,” said David Day, psychology professor. “These students didn’t collaborate on their projects—they independently went out to take a photo and then wrote the narrative—and yet, the issues that they deal with are collapsed into a number of key themes: stress; the uncertainty of the future; and who am I as a person?”

The partnership between Social Psychology and ESL students adds depth and scope to the images. “Both sets of students happen to be Ryerson students, but given the nature of our university and the immense diversity that these two groups bring, I wanted to have students understand the many contexts in which youths are living their lives, even within the same geographic space,” said Reena Tandon, service learning coordinator at the Faculty of Arts.

For Tandon, the project offers a unique experiential learning opportunity. “At the ESL Foundation, the goals of that program are for students to learn language: the written form, the conversational form, and develop confidence. But it’s also a bridging program. With this project, they get to learn and think outside of any written academic format.

“It gave them the opportunity to think freely in the language that they’re trying to learn, and express in a way that is different from their other courses.”

PhotoVoice is a collaborative initiative with David Day’s Social Psychology seminar and Community Engaged Learning and Teaching. It takes place at the SLC today (November 23), 1-7 p.m.