ULethbridge students benefit from unique WIL partnership between Prentice Institute and City of Lethbridge

Since the beginning of the Fall 2022 semester, eight University of Lethbridge students participated in five applied studies projects as part of an emerging Work Integrated Learning (WIL) partnership between the City of Lethbridge and the University of Lethbridge’s Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy.

The projects focused on a range of topics, which include formulating inclusive engagement processes for urban design projects, conducting a gap analysis of the City’s heritage program to assess the representation of the community’s diversity, supporting the development of project management tools for upcoming urban revitalization initiatives, researching the history of the Warehouse District as part of the City’s ongoing long-range planning work in that neighbourhood, and researching best practices for inclusive urban planning and policy making. 

The students worked under the supervision of two City staff from the Opportunity Lethbridge and Planning and Design departments and benefited from the academic supervision of six Prentice Institute research affiliates and University faculty. 

“There is an impressive knowledge base that exists in Lethbridge that the City of Lethbridge is excited to tap into through WIL projects such as the ones being showcased today,” says Perry Stein, Partner Services Manager with the City.  “Working with post-secondary students and faculty allows us to access this knowledge not only to enhance our day-to-day work, but to get a better handle on the talent in the community. We hope that students will gain valuable skills working with us and see us as an employer of choice once they graduate.” 

The students shared the following feedback about their experience participating in the applied studies projects:

  • It allowed for the development of skills beyond the classroom, such as public speaking and a better understanding of government processes.
  • The opportunity aided their ability to translate academic skills to business and policy work, working on tight deadlines and imagining possible career opportunities. 
  • Students gained confidence with current skills and their ability to learn new competencies, including networking and working on a team.
  • The applied studies validated how valuable their academic studies are in the workplace. 
  • It challenged students to think about how academic work might translate to a hands-on setting.

"The Prentice Institute seeks to provide an ongoing platform through which City staff, faculty and University students can collaborate to address pressing issues in our city.  Other cities in Canada, such as Kamloops, Vancouver and Toronto are benefiting tremendously from collaborations of this sort with universities, and in the process training the next generation of urban planners, policymakers and innovators. Universities, in turn, fulfill the potential to contribute directly, through their academic and research capacity, to their immediate communities,” says Andrea Cuéllar, Associate Director of the Prentice Institute. “We are aware, however, that access to WIL opportunities can be inequitable. Hence, jointly with the City, we provide student compensation to cover course registration and other costs, since ideally there should be no barriers to participating in these valuable opportunities.”

An event was held Thursday, Apr. 20, 2023 to showcase the completed student projects from the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 semesters. 

The City of Lethbridge, Prentice Institute and University of Lethbridge look forward to continuing to partner with students and faculty on future applied studies projects and to develop a broader WIL relationship. 

For a more detailed overview of the students and projects, click here.