Thompson Rivers University

Political science class gets international exposure

February 9, 2016

Students testing out training modules in the Community Based Enterprise Development (C-BED) program in the Phillipines. (Photo cred C-BED).

The old adage that entrepreneurs are born and not made is being challenged by a political science class whose partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO) could have lasting implications for small businesses worldwide.

Dr. Robert Hanlon’s experiential learning class has set a precedent amongst Canadian institutions while working on a project for the ILO to develop low-cost training modules for marginalized populations.

“We are the first university in Canada to be involved in a project like this with the ILO,” said Hanlon, a Political Studies faculty member. “It’s a great opportunity for upper-level students in the arts to gain international exposure and experience that will make a real-world impact.”

The class worked in small groups to draft easy-to-implement training programs dealing with negotiation and conflict resolution that will be used to help entrepreneurs and small business owners in low-capacity settings to improve their enterprises.

Students also got the opportunity to work alongside mediator Darren Hotte of New Solutions Mediation in Vancouver, who specializes in conflict resolution. Hotte oversaw the project drafts and helped provide feedback and direction to the students via Skype.

“This project is really cutting edge and outstanding,” said Hotte. “It says a lot about TRU for getting involved with a project of this scale that will have long-lasting social benefit. I was really impressed by the students’ creativity and quality of work.”

The training modules will be rolled out by the ILO in March and used in the Philippines this spring. The modules are self-led exercises that will be used primarily by community-based enterprises that can’t afford training.

“It was super cool getting to work on something that wasn’t just another school assignment,” said Daniel Cavani, fourth-year Bachelor of Arts student. “The best part was actually handing in the finished product and knowing that my group had done something important in the grand scheme of things. This was by far the most exciting project I’ve ever worked on.”

More information

Dr. Robert Hanlon
Department of Philosophy, History and Politics
Thompson Rivers University

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