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October 31, 2011

(Halifax, NS) One of Australia’s top educators will be in Halifax this week to talk about how she’s collaborating with an Oscar-winning actress to create a greater focus on arts in the general school curriculum.

Robyn Ewing, Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts at the University of Sydney will be a guest speaker at Mount Saint Vincent University this week as part of the Mount’s “Literacies as Ways of Knowing” series. The series has been organized by the school’s Faculty of Education and Research Offices in partnership with a number of community groups.

Ewing helped to establish the successful “School Drama” initiative in Australia. It involves working alongside teachers to model the use of drama strategies to enhance student learning outcomes. The Sydney Theatre Company (STC), headed up by Artistic Directors Andrew Upton and Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, developed the School Drama program in partnership with the University of Sydney in 2009. From the initial involvement in five inner city disadvantaged schools, the STC now funds six actors to work with teachers in 18 Sydney schools across all sectors.  

Overview of Events:

Making the Case for the Arts in Schools – Tuesday, November 1, 5-7p.m., Seton Auditorium A
Robyn Ewing of The University of Sydney, Australia, will present a review of the research related to the value of the arts for learning in schools. Susan Walsh, Mount Saint Vincent University, will offer her thoughts in response to Dr. Ewing's presentation and the audience will have a chance to offer comments and raise questions.

Making Way for the Arts in Schools - Thursday, November 3, 5-7p.m., Faculty Lounge (Reception to follow)
Jane Baskwill, Shannon LeBlanc, and Diana MacLean, all of whom are literacy educators and all of whom have taught in public schools and who work with public school teachers, will offer their thoughts on some of the obstacles to integrating the arts for learning and share ways of overcoming these obstacles that they've found effective in their own teaching practices. They will be joined by Robyn Ewing who will speak to her own experiences of working with the arts and arts groups in schools. Again, members of the audience will have the opportunity to contribute through their comments and questions.

About the Series
Launched in early September 2011, Literacies as Ways of Knowing is a series of speakers, workshop and public events that address the question ‘How do we read the world?’ All sessions are open to the public and are free of charge. For more information on the series and upcoming events, visit www.msvu.ca/literacy 

Links to Ewing’s work:
Robyn Ewing’s Bio: http://fdp.edsw.usyd.edu.au/users/58
Background on School Drama Initiative:(http://sydney.edu.au/news/edsw/880.html?newscategoryid=226&newsstoryid=7962)
Background on Sydney Story Factory: http://www.sydneystoryfactory.org.au/

About Mount Saint Vincent University
A leader in flexible education, applied research, and a personalized approach to education, Mount Saint Vincent University is nationally recognized among undergraduate universities in Canada for our success in Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grants and for having one of the lowest student-to-professor ratios. The Mount is committed to providing the best university experience for all members of our community and to developing thoughtful, engaged citizens who make a positive impact on their world. For additional information about the University, visit msvu.ca.

For more information:
Jo-Anne Peckham
Mount Saint Vincent University
p. 902.457.6308