Waterloo Unlimited is built upon four cornerstones that provide the framework for everything we do.
Learn more about each of the cornerstones below.
At Waterloo Unlimited, just as in university, some of the best learning happens over lunch or a game of football. Waterloo Unlimited programs go beyond the "9 to 3" classroom, developing a strong and supportive "community of scholars" by integrating mealtimes, evenings and recreation into the Unlimited experience.
There's nothing like learning, working and eating under a common roof for building respect, tolerance, and friendship. Some of the most interesting and valuable discussions are shared in the evenings, over meals, and on the soccer field.
Lasting friendships are built when students find themselves in a supportive environment of like-minded peers.
Our focus on community also gives students unprecedented access to the Unlimited staff. It's one thing to take a psychology class in the afternoon; it's another to talk about brain lateralization at snack time with the professor.
At Waterloo Unlimited, we model the collegiality of a healthy academic community every day. We want you to thrive socially as well as academically. It's not just sharing some lectures. It's about sharing life; for a weekend, a week, or beyond.
Do we want to work with smart people? Sure. But a university campus is chock-a-block with smart people. And somewhere, right now, some of them are saying, "Will this be on the midterm?" and "That's good enough for government work" and "What does this have to do with getting a job?"
Extrinsic motivation is externally imposed: studying merely to get good marks, taking a job solely for the money, doing volunteer work because it will look good on your résumé.
Intrinsic motivation is self-imposed: doing something because it actually appeals to you. You initiate projects because you want to know. You follow up on assignments even after you've delivered the paper. You schlep drywall at Habitat for Humanity because it's got to be done, because somebody's got to do it, and because you feel great at the end of a build.
The crucial point about intrinsic motivation is that you can't instill it with rewards. You can't create it with gold stars, diplomas, or motivational plaques—in fact, those things can get in the way, diverting people into the chase for brownie points rather than what truly interests them. Intrinsic motivation comes from within and, to a lesser extent, from peers. Since you can't manufacture intrinsic motivation, the best you can do is identify it and facilitate it.
The most important thing we can offer intrinsically motivated people is time with others who take pursuits and passions seriously. Waterloo Unlimited is such a place, where learning is beloved, aspirations are admirable, and life—as the saying goes—is not a spectator sport.
At Waterloo Unlimited, we don't believe that it is enough to provide you with a one-time enrichment "event". We want to give our students the skills to become self-enriching.
The mark of an Unlimited participant should be a passion for learning and a pursuit of knowledge that doesn't stop once you get back to "regular life." Granted, the passion is much easier to sustain in the context of a dynamic enrichment program, but we want to equip you to be a lifelong learner wherever you find yourself.
Unlimited enrichment means offering you a place to learn and practice the sorts of intellectual skills that transcend disciplines. We want you to learn how to seek out, evaluate and interpret original sources for yourself. We want you to ask great questions, and seek open-ended answers.
We want you to take increasing responsibility for your own learning, to figure out how to make the most of your strengths, and to customize your classroom experience to accommodate your weaknesses. We want you to make the most of every class, and we want you to elevate the level of discussion in every seminar you attend.
In short, we want you to treat your own education as a creative problem to be studied, and solved, as many times as necessary. That's why, at Unlimited, we spend time each day focusing on building various "skills"—written and oral communication, navigating a university library, idea generation and problem solving—tools that you can take with you whether you pursue rocket science or rock 'n' roll.
You don't want to be pigeonholed in a single discipline. Neither do we.
As we say here at Waterloo Unlimited: "This isn't science camp, or art camp, or leadership camp—this is everything camp!" This is where the humanities and the sciences meet and merge. This is where pole-vaulters and poets collaborate with geometers and geographers. This is where we celebrate the fabulous diversity of human interests and excellence.
Each Unlimited experience revolves around a trans-disciplinary theme, such as vision, design, water, simplicity or strings. The themes draw on all faculties across campus, bringing together students, staff and professors from different disciplines for a grand exploration of both commonalities and "the differences that make a difference."
Why offer themed teaching? Innovative solutions and groundbreaking research happen where disciplines—and researchers—cross boundaries. The themed framework of Waterloo Unlimited starts at the intersection of academic disciplines, to the benefit of the student participants, the teaching faculty, and the university as a whole. Themes give us focus without narrowing our scope.
Themed teaching promotes an open-ended learning experience that touches—and triggers—leading-edge research and discourse. It develops students' higher-order academic skills, skills that generalize across all disciplines, such as analysis, synthesis, communication, and collaboration.
Finally, we think themed teaching is fun. A university where the academics are having fun will inevitably attract exceptional—we might even say Unlimited—faculty, staff and students. And that makes us happy.
The Story of Waterloo Unlimited
Waterloo Unlimited Director Ed Jernigan gave a public talk in May 2016 in celebration of Unlimited's 10th anniversary entitled, “Changing the Change Makers: The Story of Waterloo Unlimited”. He explains the creation of Waterloo Unlimited and the importance of the four cornerstones in the program.