Community Building and Collaboration

by Jessica Riddell

Our four institutions – St Francis Xavier, Acadia, Mount Allison, and Bishop’s University – share a common vision and set of shared values. We are all committed to outstanding teaching, exceptional hands-on research experiences, collaborating closely with students, and creating unique opportunities to contribute to communities at home and around the world. Students who graduate from our four institutions are uniquely equipped to navigate a complex global landscape as citizens and leaders dedicated to the values of a just, civil society.

All four universities take great pride in fostering close-knit communities with small class sizes and a residential focus (90% of students live within 1km of campus). Maple League institutions are primarily undergraduate institutions and 70-80% of courses are taught by full-time faculty. The four universities are economic and cultural drivers for regional communities, each with their own distinct eco-systems and socio-linguistic communities. History and tradition abound – institutions were founded between 1839 and 1853 – and yet we offer degrees that are increasingly relevant: our 21st century liberal education focuses on critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

The national trend to massify undergraduate education – where students are treated as consumers or as data points on a spreadsheet – is alarming. Provincial funding models across Canada have led to an increasingly homogenized landscape of higher education, so much so that Ontario has almost entirely phased out primarily undergraduate institutions. In contrast, our Maple League universities individualize undergraduate education – where students are treated as producers and collaborators in their own learning journeys – with a holistic approach to learning within the classroom and beyond. We believe that diversity of institutions as a key contributor to a vibrant ecosystem of higher education in Canada. And we believe that a liberal education is the best way forward.

We must focus our energy on the things that set us apart – and in every endeavour we must be able to answer two fundamental questions:

  • What can we do together that we cannot do on our own?
  • How does working together enhance what we do do on our own?

The Maple League universities are uniquely positioned to become leaders in undergraduate teaching and experiential learning in Canada and internationally. Connecting people from different disciplines and backgrounds – to create new communities and strengthen existing ones – is one of the foundational strengths of the Maple League. Together I am confident we can imagine new ways of collaborating, of being, and of knowing. As one of our Maple League student leaders so eloquently exclaimed: “The Maple League is more than a consortium of universities: it is a movement.”

Learn more about the Maple League mission, vision and values. As you are inspired by the potential of the consortium, please feel encouraged to connect with me directly and share your thoughts. You can reach me at – I look forward to hearing from you.


Racial Justice Symposium at Mount Allison

Date: October 26, 2019
Location: Bishop's University
On the weekend of October 25-27th, students and faculty from the Maple League of Universities took to the stage in Bishop's University's Bandeen Hall to deliver a series of inspiring and engaging TEDx talks on the theme of 'The Maple League equips us to navigate uncertain times'. We invite you to watch our peers and colleagues in action - simply click the image to view each talk. 

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The enduring value of a humanities degree

The Maple League’s Executive Director, Dr. Jessica Riddell, shared her hope for the future of the humanities on the CBC Sunday Edition, February 16, and the crucial role quality undergraduate […]

Maple League Funding Spotlight – Accessibility and Preservation of Audiovisual Materials

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Richard (Acadia)Co-Investigators: Margaret Vail (St. FX), Anne LePage (Mount Allison), Sarah Heath (Bishop’s) In early September 2019 at a series of town halls, the Maple League launched […]

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