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Summer Wellness Series

During the summer months, the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning and the Campus Mental Health Strategy present a series of wellness webinars featuring UCalgary experts. Two sessions in July and August offer insights and discussion on pertinent themes in mental health in teaching and learning, incorporating practical mental health support in each session. Registration is free and open to everyone from UCalgary and beyond!

Reflecting on Well-Being and Assessment Practices Using an Ethics-of-Care Lens

Presenter: Roxanne Ross, director, Student Success Centre

Date: Thursday, July 21, 2022

Time: 12 – 1 p.m.

This session explored the potential relationship between well-being and assessment practices, reflecting on the primary role that assessing student academic performance plays within the lives of students and course instructors.

Considering recent scholarship on well-being and student assessment, this session drew on a qualitative study involving post-secondary students’ perceptions of pedagogical stances and teaching practices that support their well-being.

As we reflect on a period of intense change in assessment practices necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we consider how applying an ethics-of-care framework to assessment practices can support student and instructor well-being.

Learning outcomes: 

  • Reflect on the potential impact of assessment decisions on course instructors’ well-being
  • Articulate how assessment practices may enhance or hinder student well-being
  • Apply an ethics-of-care framework to how we engage in assessment processes and practices

This session was moderated by Dr. Cheryl Jeffs, EdD, educational development consultant, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning.

Roxanne Ross is the director of UCalgary’s Student Success Centre. Her role involves working collaboratively to support the development and delivery of learning, writing and advising services for undergraduate and graduate students. Her previous professional work includes being co-ordinator of Writing Support Services at Carleton University as well as teaching post-secondary English for Academic Purposes (EAP).  She holds a Master of Applied Language Studies from Carleton and is currently an EdD candidate in the Werklund School of Education.

Cheryl Jeffs, EdD, is an educational development consultant and academic staff at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, University of Calgary. Her commitment to excellence in teaching and learning is through a range of research-informed educational programs and initiatives, consultations, and collaborative projects. With a diverse background in professional and educational development in BC and Alberta, Cheryl’s research interests include the teaching dossier, formative feedback, and graduate student and postdoctoral scholar teaching development.

Embedding Well-Being into Post-Secondary Organizational Culture


  • Dr. Sandra Davidson, PhD, dean, Faculty of Nursing
  • Dr. Dianne Gereluk, PhD, dean, Werklund School of Education
  • Dr. Kimberly Johnston, PhD, associate dean, Schulich School of Engineering

Date: Monday, Aug. 22, 2022

Time: 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Working in a post-secondary setting can be rewarding, but it is not without challenges. Ongoing fiscal restraints and the global pandemic have led to more fatigue, stress and anxiety across higher education, presenting challenges to our individual and collective well-being and morale.

To promote flourishing and support the well-being of students, staff, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars, it is increasingly necessary for academic units to meaningfully embed well-being into culture and structure. However, creating, advocating for and sustaining a culture of well-being can be difficult.

In this session, the deans of the Faculty of Nursing and Werklund School of Education, and the associate dean (mental health) of the Schulich School of Engineering will discuss how they have worked to intentionally embed well-being into their workplace culture, policies, programs and practices. They will openly discuss the challenges, barriers and resistance they have faced and worked to overcome, and also explore how to re-engage a scholarly community disrupted by COVID-19.

Learning outcomes: 

  • Examine and critique well-being practices in various academic cultures
  • Explore individual roles in contributing to the collective responsibility of well-being for students, staff, faculty and postdoctoral scholars
  • Identify one practice you can action to contribute to strengthen a culture of well-being, from varying organizational levels

This session will be moderated by Dr. Andrew Szeto, PhD, director, Campus Mental Health Strategy.

An acknowledged Canadian nurse leader in entrepreneurial thought and creative innovation, Dr. Sandra Davidson, PhD, was appointed dean of UCalgary Nursing in August 2018. She is originally from Lethbridge and, after establishing herself clinically as a bedside nurse, moved on to an academic career in the United States before returning to Canada and the University of Alberta, where she served as associate dean of undergraduate programs. She currently teaches leadership in the graduate certificate program and researches in the area of teaching and learning as well as simulation, among others.

A former teacher with the Edmonton Public School Board, Dr. Dianne Gereluk, PhD is dean and professor at the Werklund School of Education at the UCalgary. Her research examines educational policy and practice related to politically contested and controversial issues in education. In her current role as dean, Dr. Gereluk has renewed the Werklund School’s commitment to championing all dimensions of child wellbeing. The newly launched Centre for Wellbeing in Education marks the beginning of the next phase of this ongoing pursuit. Ensuring K-12 students thrive in their schools, in their homes and in their communities is at the core of her teaching and learning philosophy.

Dr. Kimberly Johnston, PhD is the Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning; Academic and Planning) for the Schulich School of Engineering and joined the leadership team in 2018. Dr. Johnston became an academic after completing her PhD in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary in 2017 where she focused her research on the phase behaviour of bitumen solvent systems. Dr. Johnston worked in industry after completing her BSc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Calgary in 2005. She advanced her career with Devon Canada, moving from field engineer to production engineer to reservoir simulation engineer between 2005 and 2011. Today, Dr. Johnston is focused on engineering education innovation and advancing mental health during the engineering education process.

As the Director of the Campus Mental Health Strategy, Dr. Andrew Szeto, PhD is responsible for guiding the implementation of its 28 recommendations. He is a Principal Investigator at the Mental Health Commission of Canada and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at UCalgary. He also conducts research that examines the stigma of mental illness and works on the development and evaluation of workplace mental illness anti-stigma training and mental health promotion programs.

Past webinars (2021)

Living under a sustained global pandemic has affected us in diverse and sometimes traumatizing ways. Yet, we cannot simply leave past trauma and present-day stressors 'at the door' when we arrive on campus. Instead, we must recognize ways in which our practices support or impede resilience in our learning and working spaces. This session explores how a 'trauma-informed' approach supports students and educators both during and post-pandemic.

Learning outcomes:  

  • Articulate how both stress and trauma responses may affect learning and work
  • Distinguish between saviourism and stewardship when describing relationships between individual and community well-being
  • Apply Venet’s four-priorities model to identify opportunities for trauma-informed practices in our classrooms and broader campus spaces
  • Explain connections between equity and trauma-informed practices in higher education spaces

Facilitator: Dr. Yuen-ying Carpenter, PhD

This webinar will explore the challenges in mental health on post-secondary campuses related to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Dr. Smith, vice-provost of UCalgary’s EDI office and invited panelists will present and discuss research, strategies, and practices in this space, as well as highlight opportunities, and bring forward recommendations. A Q&A with webinar participants will follow.

Learning outcomes:

  • Explore intersectionality as it relates to equity, diversity, inclusion and mental health and well-being in a postsecondary context
  • Explore and discuss the impacts of COVID-19 through the lens of EDI, mental health and well-being in a postsecondary context
  • Understand culturally relevant mental health services and any current barriers to receiving services

Facilitator: Dr. Malinda Smith, PhD, and invited panelists: Kome Odoko, Dr. Bukola Salami, PhD, and Dr. Gregor Wolbring, PhD

This webinar will explore the current challenges related to mental health on postsecondary campuses in the context of COVID-19. Drawing on his clinical expertise and research evidence-base, Dr. Dobson will engage in thoughtful discussion of how we can support ourselves and our community as we enter a new academic year. He will also identify and discuss navigation of community and campus mental health resources. Finally, Dr. Dobson will answer questions related to mental health and wellbeing within the context of COVID-19 from webinar participants.

Learning outcomes:

  • Summarize any learnings since the beginning of the pandemic in terms of mental health
  • Understand the mental health issues that might arise as we return to campus
  • Identify with participants how to incorporate self-care strategies, and find campus and community resources to support mental health
  • Discuss how we can support loved ones and our communities that have been isolated, or otherwise in distress over the past year and a half

Facilitator: Dr. Keith Dobson, PhD

Past webinars (2020)

Facilitated by: Dr. Glory Ovie, PhD

We have all been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic and our anxiety and stress levels increased. We are teaching, learning and working remotely from home with our daily routines and lives disrupted. It is important to manage our disrupted lives by practicing self-care to enhance our well-being. Self-care is a deliberate action taken in order to enhance our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Self-care manages stress and paves the way for kind, compassionate engagement with the world around you. This webinar aims to discuss different strategies for self-care and have participants develop a personalized self-care plan.

Learning outcomes:

  • Explore the importance of self-care and crisis response
  • Practice some evidence-based strategies for self-care that can enhance their well-being
  • Develop a self-care plan

Facilitated by: Dr. Jennifer Thannhauser, PhD

It is inevitable that we will all experience adversity at some point in our lives. COVID-19 is a shared adversity that we are all learning to navigate. We will discover how resiliency refers to our capacity to adapt or bounce back in the face of such adversity. Resiliency also captures a community’s capacity to provide the appropriate supports and resources to community members that help them successfully navigate through difficult times. The intention of this webinar is to provide participants intentional time to reflect on their own resilience and develop a personalized plan for enhancing one’s resilience.

Learning outcomes:

  • Explore several personal and social factors associated with resiliency
  • Practice evidence-based strategies to enhance personal resiliency
  • Engage in self-reflection activities and apply the concepts discussed 

Facilitated by: Dr. Jacqueline Smith, PhD

Stress and struggles are inevitable and often manageable. However, what about those days when you feel rattled, anxious and unbalanced? We will explore principles of emotional regulation that enhance our ability to successfully handle life’s stressors and adapt to change and difficult times. A general sense of well-being can be realized in the physical, social, occupational, spiritual, financial, and environmental aspects of our lives. This session will increase awareness of how to maintain a sense of emotional wellness and contentment through intentional daily practices, relaxation techniques, resilience skills and lifestyle modifications.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify four principles associated with emotional wellness
  • List four practices that support emotional regulation
  • Understand how neuroplasticity can create new pathways in our brain

Facilitator: Dr. Linda Carlson, PhD

In this webinar, Dr. Linda Carlson (professor in the Faculty of Medicine and co-author of The Art and Science of Mindfulness) will discuss the ways in which mindfulness can be used as a coping strategy to help reduce stress as we work through the COVID-19 pandemic. She will define mindfulness, give research-based examples of how it can reduce stress and change your brain, and guide you through several mindfulness practices that can be beneficial in your everyday professional and personal lives, and especially during times of crisis. 

Learning Outcomes:

  • Gain an introductory understanding of the roots, definition and benefits of mindfulness
  • Utilize practical skills in cultivating present moment awareness to build resilience, compassion, and empathy
  • Discover several mindfulness-based applications to use at work and at home for personal wellbeing