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Mentorship in Higher Education

Our 2021 theme, mentorship in higher education, reflects one of the most current topics in higher education across the Canadian and international postsecondary landscapes. 

A great mentor often sees more potential within us than we see in ourselves. An engaged mentee can reinvigorate our practice with new questions and perspectives. There is both an art and science to engaging in meaningful mentoring relationships across the many roles and disciplines in higher education (Johnson, 2016).

Mentorship is relational, and it prioritizes people by creating a safe, inclusive and respectful culture of learning and growth. It can foster positive, mutually beneficial relationships that support development and growth through self-exploration, reflection, intellectual intrigue and identity formation (Lunsford & Baker, 2016). These relationships, both formal and informal, are found throughout the academy between teaching colleagues, instructors and students, and researchers and scholars.  

They positively impact skill development, job performance, career satisfaction, pride and personal satisfaction (Eby, Allen, Evans, Ng & DuBois, 2008). When mentorship is interwoven into the campus culture, it supports the development of teaching, research, supervision and leadership practices, and ultimately improves student experiences (Grimes & White, 2015).

The 2021 University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching invites faculty, instructors, administrators, librarians, staff, students and postdoctoral scholars to explore mentorship in higher education and the scholarship, approaches, practices and issues surrounding it.


This year’s conference theme will explore multiple aspects of mentorship:

  • How does mentoring cultivate an inclusive academic community?
  • What skills are needed to develop mentoring networks, to ask meaningful questions and to facilitate dialogue?
  • How can we harness the power of positive mentoring to improve the student experience, as well as our research and teaching communities?
  • What are the qualities and characteristics of effective mentorship?
  • What do meaningful mentorships conversations and relationships look like?
  • How can mentorship help improve supervision practices (of graduate students, postdoctoral scholars and undergraduate students)?
  • How can mentorship be used by academic leaders to support career advancement and development?
  • How can mentorship promote equity, diversity and inclusion?
  • What does mentorship look like according to the perspectives, histories and worldviews of Indigenous peoples?
  • How can mentorship unleash innovation and entrepreneurship?
  • How can the impact of mentorship be assessed?
  • What does mentorship look like through the eyes of a student?


Eby, L. T., Allen, T. D., Evans, S. C., Ng, T., & DuBois, D.L. (2008). Does mentoring matter? A multidisciplinary meta-analysis comparing mentored and non-mentored individuals.  Journal of Vocational Behavior, 72(2), 254-267.

Grimes, C., & White, H.B. (2015). Passing the baton: Mentoring for adoption of active-learning pedagogies by research-active junior faculty. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 43(5), 345-357.

Johnson, W.B. (2016) On being a mentor: A guide for higher education faculty. Routledge, New York, NY.

Lunsford, L.G., & Baker, V. (2015). Great mentoring in graduate school: A quick start guide for protégés. Occasional Paper Series No. 4. Council of Graduate Schools.