Learning Ensemble is a set of web-based teaching resources that allow educators from across professional, undergraduate, and graduate programs to insert critical perspectives on mental health into online or in-class teaching. An offspring of the Madness Canada website, Learning Ensemble’s first teaching units were drawn from research done for the After the Asylum project, a national Canadian study of the shift away from institutional to community mental health. Community experts, people with experience of mental health difficulties, provided a blueprint for Learning Ensemble content and contributed intimate, informed, and nuanced explorations of their lived realities.
Learning Ensemble continues to evolve. In Fall 2019 we relaunched Learning Ensemble with a fresh design look and a new content management system. An arrangement with the translation program at Glendon College, York University, means that we add new French units yearly. With funding support from York University, we are currently moving forward with new content co-created with York University placement students and youth and children from diverse communities in the Greater Toronto region.
As with other Madness Canada projects, the process of developing Learning Ensemble is based on principles of participatory democracy, and high value is placed on the experiential knowledge of people with mental health differences.
As part of Creative Commons we invite users to share and adapt our materials while respecting Learning Ensemble values and principles. We ask users to give us credit, to refrain from making profit on our material, and to distribute Learning Ensemble resources under our original Creative Commons license.
This website is dedicated to our friend and colleague Alex Verkade who died in Vancouver in July 2013 when the first stage of this project was nearing completion.
A person of great wisdom and kindness, who also had a psychiatric diagnosis and history, Alex believed passionately that people like him were fully capable of (in his words), “making a positive contribution to their community by starting consumer-driven alternative service organizations and demonstrating the importance of consumer involvement to mental health and social service workers.” Alex devoted his life to this work: at MPA, West Coast Mental Health Network, Unity Housing, and most recently with the film The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Stories from MPA and these teaching materials.
Alex was a true friend and an invaluable colleague – helpful, smart, articulate, dedicated, hardworking, unassuming. We miss him.
Learning Ensemble Team: Simon Adam, Dana Allen, Lanny Beckman, Laura Buker, Kelsi Cox, Susan Beniston, Sarah de Leeuw, Megan Davies, Lori E., Susan Heximer, Cindy Jiang, Maria Liegghio, Marina Marrow, Ian Milligan, Cat Omura, Gillian Parekh, Kendra Pitt, Diane Purvey, Geoffrey Reaume, David Reville, Margo Robinson, Alexandra Rutherford, Karen Schwartz, Alistair Scott-Turner, Irit Shimrat, Nérée St-Amand, Lisa-Marie Sterr, Sonomi Tanaka, Kathy Teghtsoonian, Marie-Claude Tifault, Deborah Thien, Alex Verkade, Christina Wall, Branwen Willow, Dagmara Woronko.
Project Coordinator: Megan Davies
Research and Technical Assistance: Celeste Billung-Meyer, Emily Charron, Bryn Coates-Davies, Mab Coates-Davies, Julie Cormier, Dominic Dagenais, Martin Desmeules, Majda Drinnan, John Glenhill, Ji-Enn Lee, Nicole Malcolm, Sarah Mughal, Nick Nausbaum, Sarah Phillips, Alex Poutiainen, Jenna Reid, Angela Rooke, Lily Ross-Millard, Mélissa Roy, Nico Rullman, Erin Spinney, Oliver Sutherns, Sonomi Tanaka, Karen Truscott, Ruka Watanabe.
Translation: Quratul Ahmed, Judith Babin, Alexandra De Paiva Guimaraes, Marilyne Gour, Jazzmine Kosmal, Joadith Leung, Marian Mendoza-Perez, Meriem Mili, Jasmine Moutsatsos, Khrystyna Skira, Audrey Tavares, Véronique Widner.
Thank you: Sanja Begic, Kevin Breit, Ralph Buckley, Pat Capponi, Carleton University, Colin Coates, Lucy Costa, Louis Dionne, Chris Dooley, Douglas College, Erika Dyck, Lisa Endersby, George Brown College, Jennifer Green, Charles Peter Heit, Gabrielle Houle, Kathy Kendall, Eugene LeBlanc, Claudia Malacrida, Roberto Perin, Re-imagining Long-term Residential Care Project, Bob Rose, Pam Shearar, Jim Struthers, les étudiant(e)s de l’Université d’Ottawa et de l’Université de Carleton, Université d’Ottawa, l’Université de Victoria, Tania Willard, Victor Willis, Jayne Whyte, Natalie Wood, Université York University.
Funding: Learning Ensemble has been funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, York University Faculty Association, York University, Thompson Rivers University, and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. The History in Practice webpages are hosted by York University.