Western University GeographyWestern Social Science

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 (marked in light blue). The Teaching Support Center's TA day is highly recommended for those of you who will be teaching assistants.

Orientation Itinerary 2016

Day and TimeLocationItemWho
Sept 1 (Thurs)
UCC 146 ITA Day - Teaching Support Centre - International graduate teaching assistant workshop International TA's
Sept 5 (Mon)
NCB 101 International Student Orientation Day
International and Exchange Student Centre - Reception and Orientation Program
International & Exchange students
Sept 6-16 Graduate Administrator - submit signed waiver for Retreat (see below)
- notify about food restrictions
new grads
Sept 7 (Wed)
HSB 40 TA Day - Teaching Support Centre - graduate student teaching assistant workshop all TA's
Sept 8 (Thurs)
Alumni Hall School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies graduate student orientation new grads
Sept 8 (Thurs)
SSC 1302

Welcome Message Grad Chair & Chair
(Jeff Hopkins) & (Isaac Luginaah)

Debates in Geographic Thought - brief
(P. Ashmore & B. Dodson)

new grads
12:30-12:45 SSC 1302 Health and Safety
Erika Hill)
new grads
12:45-13:00 SSC 1302 Cartography
(Karen Van Kerkoerle)
new grads
13:00-13:30 SSC 1302

Society of Graduate Students

new grads
13:30-14:00 SSC 1302 Graduate Teaching Assistants' Union
(GTA Union)
new grads

SSC 1302

Teaching Support Centre
(Dr. Beth Hundey)
new grads
14:15-14:30 SSC 1302 Environment and Sustainability Program Information Session
(Desmond Moser)
new Geog/EnvSus grads
14:30-14:45 SSC 1302 Let's Talk About Science
new grads
15:00 SSC 2322 Scavenger Hunt - meet outside main office
deadline identify dietary restrictions for Retreat (below)
new grads
16:15-18:30 TBD Pizza Meet & Greet all grads
Sept 9 (Fri)
SSC 1004 GeoGrad Society Co-Presidents
(Evan Cleave & Lydia Osei)
new grads
14:00-15:00 SSC 1004 Ice-breaker introduction
(Jeff Hopkins)
new grads
16:00-18:00 off site Meet and greet all faculty/grads
18:30-20:30 off site Dinner all grads
20:30 off site Night out all grads
Sept 12 (Mon) grad classes and undergrad classes start - make contact with instructor for whom you are the TA all
Sept 12-16
(Mon - Fri; 9-3)

To make an appointment email: kvankerk@uwo.ca
SSC 2217 Karen V. will take your photo for the geograd webpage new grads
TBA Migration and Ethnic Relations (MER) program information session new grads interested in MER
Sept 16-17
9:30 Fri -
12:00 Sat
Meet at loading dock - SSC Grad Retreat (See below) new grads


In addition to the various departmental meetings and campus activities, all new students participate in a subsidized weekend 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 travel by van and typically stay at least one night. Meals are provided; participation is mandatory.
There is a $25 fee for the Retreat.

Setup of the CAMP - details to follow

Before We Go

    1. FOOD ISSUES The weekend is catered, so notify the Graduate Administrator about any dietary issues or food allergies (by Sept 12).
    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. This will be communicated after the Retreat.
    3. WAIVER All students are required to sign a waiver. Return your completed waiver to the Graduate Administrator (by Sept 14).
    4. PROVIDE INPUT - Please answer this anonymous survey (seven questions). It asks you to tell us your major questions and concerns about your graduate studies at Western. The responses will help the development of our retreat program.

What to Bring
In addition to the usual clothes, toiletries (plus towel) and personal items you normally take on an overnight trip, some suggestions.
We are staying in heated buildings.

      • warm sleeping bag (mattresses provided). There are no sheets, blankets or pillows.
      • pillow
      • warm sleepwear
      • earplugs? (shared rooms)
      • indoor shoes; outdoor shoes/boots (weather permitted)
      • reusable coffee "travel" mug
      • frisbee, soccer ball, volleyball (for free time)
      • keep reading...

Often a fire is lit in the outdoor pit ...

      • flashlight
      • bug repellent
      • warm jacket and pants

We will be outdoors some of the time ...

      • good hiking shoes for walks (i.e. NOT flip-flops, sandals - which are otherwise fine for inside)
      • rain wear and/or umbrella
      • water bottle
      • snacks
      • keep reading...

You will want to make some notes...

      • clipboard and/or field book pens etc.

Faculty Facilitators 2016

Jeff Hopkins (Grad Chair)
Carol Hunsberger
Jamie Voogt

Retreat Itinerary 2016 

There are two main types of sessions - team challenges and discussions. You will remain on the same team for all team challenges, but the groups will be mixed up for the discussion sessions.

Day and TimeLocationItemComments
Sept 16-17
Stevenson Children's Camp Department of Geography graduate student retreat see above and below
Detailed Itinerary
10:00 depart Social Science (loading dock area, parking lot - Social Science)
10:30 arrive Stevenson Children's Camp
10:45 Welcome & Itinerary - (TBD)
Team Challenge Session - (TBD)
Discussion Session - Degree and Program - (TBD)
  • what do you want from your graduate degree?
  • general concerns and expectations for an M/A/Sc and PhD degree
Discussion - Social Relations Introduction (TBD)
  • health and wellness (TBD)
  • supervisor to grad student relationships (TBD)
  • graduate student peer relations (TBD)
  • interacting with undergraduate students (TBD)
Role Playing Preparation - Introduction (TBD)
free time
Role Playing / Discussion - Presentations
  • see above
free time (bonfire, cards, games, chat...)
9:00 Team Challenge Session - (TBD)
9:30 Discussion - Research and Funding
  • program requirements (TBD)
  • funding and scholarships (TBD)
  • time management (TBD)
11:00 clean-up
11:30 depart for UWO
12:00 UWO