Bagels with Ben builds community among undergraduate students

Watching students file in for class, Dr. Benjamin Cheung, a lecturer in the department of psychology at UBC, knows how it feels to sit in their place. An alumnus of UBC Psychology’s undergraduate and graduate programs, Dr. Cheung, created Bagels with Ben, a fun and social activity to engage and include students who might otherwise feel lost in the masses.
The weekly casual gathering brings undergraduate students out to the former Niche Café in the Beaty Biodiversity Museum for interesting conversation, company, and of course—bagels. The idea came from Dr. Catherine Rawn’s ‘Teaching of Psychology’ graduate seminar, where a faculty member from another institution was discussed for taking similar steps towards student engagement and wellbeing.

“What I wanted to do was create an opportunity, create an environment in which people can come together, chat in a very low stakes casual environment,” says Dr. Cheung. “Chat, eat food, and just get to know each other, and start building that sense of community among students within the same class, even students across different sections of the same course.”

Why bagels you may ask? Well the answer is simple. “It had to start with B,” says Dr. Cheung. “And brunch doesn’t really work because sometimes they’re in the afternoon. Baguettes are a little too unwieldy for these situations, and bananas seems lame. Bagels are a good compromise between all these different options, so I went with bagels.”
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