Looking at poverty from new perspectives: PowerED™ and the Justice Sector Constellation partner to digitally uplift course
Poverty affects millions of Canadians. According to the Canadian Poverty Institute, income inequality is growing and recent estimates indicate over 14 per cent of Canadians suffer from low income.
Many more live precariously from paycheque to paycheque and are at risk of falling into poverty. Research has found a strong link between multiple unresolved legal problems and social exclusion, poverty, and disadvantage.
In response to this reality, in 2012, the Justice Sector Constellation was formed. The Constellation seeks to intervene at the intersection of poverty and the legal system so that everyone facing a legal issue can access the justice sector resources and services they need. One of their strategic priorities is to educate and engage justice sector and other community stakeholders on the relationship between poverty and the legal system.
To advance this priority, the Constellation wanted to develop an interactive, online educational module that could be incorporated into post-secondary courses in a variety of disciplines. The goal was to sensitize participants to the issues that arise at the intersection of poverty and the legal system, to better equip them to serve their clients and communities.
This is where the partnership between PowerED™ and the Justice Sector Constellation was born.
Using best practices in instructional design, PowerED™ worked with the Constellation to enrich and uplift content typically provided in a classroom setting into an online course. Doing this enabled the desire to expand the reach of this module across Canada.
The result of that partnership was an engaging and interactive online offering of Poverty and the Law: Expanding Perspectives.
“The Constellation has all this wonderful content and knowledge. PowerED™ is proud to work with the Constellation to be that missing puzzle piece and to provide our capacity and experience to build an online course to enable the Constellation broader reach.”– Jessica Scott, Director, PowerED™
“The Module is a natural extension of the work being done by the Constellation to effect systemic change. The Constellation’s vision is that the Module will both inform participants on the issues that arise at the intersection of poverty and the legal system, and inspire them to take action, benefitting both the direct audience of students and working professionals and, ultimately, those they serve,” said Janice Pasay, Co-Chair, Justice Sector Constellation.
Since its launch earlier this year, over 250 people have taken the module, with positive reviews from educators in post-secondary institutions, students and the public. The module is being used in various faculties and departments at a number of Canadian institutions including Ambrose University, Bow Valley College, Mount Royal University, St. Mary’s University and the University of Calgary. Content from the module has been incorporated into the bar admission course for Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, and the module has also been approved for continuing professional development credits with several Canada law societies and the Alberta College of Social Workers.
Excitingly, the module is also now being offered at Athabasca University in the LGST 230: Canadian Legal System course.
“AU’s course Canadian Legal System introduces students to the structures, processes and professions involved in administering law in Canada. It encourages students to have a critical perspective on the law and to appreciate when our legal system does not live up to our ideals of justice. One of the critiques presented in the course is the lack of access to justice for many in Canada,” said Archie Zariski, Canadian Legal Systems Professor.
“Poverty is one of the main causes of this serious problem and the module Poverty and the Law: Expanding Perspectives demonstrates the connection between socio-economic and cultural factors and the failure of our legal system to address the needs of many in our society. Including this module in the course reinforces the proposition that our legal system may be a good one by many standards, but certainly needs to be improved in delivering justice to all.”– Archie Zariski, Canadian Legal Systems Professor
To support educators in employing the module in their courses, an Instructor’s Resource was also commissioned. Both the Module and the Instructor’s Resource are available for free, thanks to funding from the Catalyst Fund of Enough for All, Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy.
“We were excited to digitally uplift such rich and meaningful content. The Justice Sector Constellation had a clear vision of what it wanted to communicate to a spectrum of learners. It was really impactful to bring this content to life in a digital space, and empower learners to reflect on real-world issues that are so prevalent right now”– Cynthia Lambertson-Poon, PowerED™ Course Production Coordinator
Because of the partnership between the Constellation and PowerED’s expertise, the Constellation has been able to include the Poverty and the Law course content in university, college, and professional development courses across Canada.
Visit the Justice Sector Constellation website to learn more about Poverty and the Law: Expanding Perspectives.