A partnership to INSPiRE

December 15, 2008

The Interdisciplinary Network for Scholarship in Professions' Research in Education (INSPiRE) is up and running. Co-directors Dr. Anne Kinsella, field leader of the Health Professional Education Field of the Graduate program in the Faculty of Health sciences, and Professor Allan Pitman, Faculty of Education, hosted the launch of the network on Thursday, October 16, in the Community Room of the Faculty of Education, the host faculty for the partnership.

The aim of this interdisciplinary initiative is to foster an intellectual community and interdisciplinary network for the scholarship of professional education. The initiative creates opportunities for researchers and graduate students across fields to interact and exchange knowledge.

The project aims to: (i) create opportunities to interact across disciplines, (ii) identify scholars and graduate students in the field through the development of a virtual network and community of practice, and (iii) build capacity for researchers and graduate students to advance knowledge and contribute to the scholarship of professional education.

The interdisciplinary initiative is funded by the Provost's office, and involves a collaboration between the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. The initiative will receive $91,400 over three years. Dr. Gerry White spoke to the assembled group at the October 16th launch, on behalf of the Provost's Office, indicating that the university envisions this as an interdisciplinary initiative with much promise. Dean Julia O'Sullivan spoke on behalf of Education, Dean Jim Weese of Health Sciences represented his faculty, and Dr. Mark Goldzsmidt spoke on behalf of Dean Carol Herbert from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry; each indicated the respective support and excitement from their faculties.

"This is a collaborative venture," said Professor Allan Pitman, "to build on the research on professional education underway in three faculties: the Faculties of Education, Health Sciences and the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry." Members are initiating efforts to invoke more cross faculty participation in seminars, events and other scholarly activities. "This is capacity building for scholarly work on the practice of professional education, across faculties," said Professor Pitman, "All of us will learn from each other and build a richer, broader understanding of research in professional teaching."

Membership in INSPiRE will eventually be open to all interested faculty, graduate students, and community members, at Western and beyond. Members of the governance council include the directors and representation from the 3 faculties: Dr. Kathy Hibbert, Dr. Bob MacMillan, Dr. Mark Goldzsmidt, Dr. Carole Orchard, Dr. Doreen Bartlett, Dr. Sandy DeLuca, Dr. Kevin Wamsley, Dr. Jeff Nisker, Dr. Teresa Van Deven, Dr. Ken Kirkwood.

Current projects underway involve developing a web-based community of practice, sponsoring an interdisciplinary conference in the area of health professional education (, sponsoring a book symposium on phronesis and the development of professional knowledge (May 2009), creating opportunities for interdisciplinary exchange through symposiums, and visiting scholars. Watch for invitations to join INSPiRE in 2009!