In this blog series, “Where are they now?”, alumni can reflect on their academic, social and physical journey through Quest’s undergraduate education. We have been asking some Quest alumna to write a few words about Quest, their experience, and where it has taken them. Here are some insightful words from recent graduate Andrew Luba:
“Hi, I’m Andrew. I graduated from Quest in 2015. My life goal is to make people happy. I think most people are happy when they have fun, they can express themselves, nobody takes advantage of them, they can trust their community, others in society respect them, and they have some feeling of equality with the people around them – essentially, when they have real opportunity to live a fulfilling life.
Quest attracted me because it was somewhere I thought I would really learn to think. Other universities promised knowledge; Quest promised critical engagement with the world around me. It empowered me to explore and investigate for myself.
My Question was, “how does understanding human behaviour lead to socially innovative policy?” Now, I usually say I studied Choice Architecture, which is exploring how we can design people’s decisions to maximize the probability of a certain outcomes. We might decide as a community that we want more people to plant trees in their front yard. Then we’d have to figure out how to increase individual treeplanting without removing people’s freedom to not plant a tree if they really disagree with the idea.
For my Keystone, I wrote a novella exploring how we might design a fictional utopic/dystopic society that uses choice architecture, and then how that design would affect the people actually living within that society. I hope the story left readers thinking about whether this sort of designed society encourages or coerces certain behaviours, and whether that, even as a concept, is ethical.
There are too many favourite moments at Quest to possibly recall them all. I guess some of my favourite moments included feeling super excited to go to class almost every day, playing sports with friends in the evenings, walking around residence saying hi to everyone because you actually know everyone, falling in love, feeling fully enthralled sitting there with my jaw dropped open as I was sucked in by talented musicians at open mic, and strolling through the woods to go swimming with wild salmon. Those are a few, but I could just keep on writing.
I’m now studying a Masters of Design in Strategic Foresight & Innovation at OCAD University in Toronto. It sounds complicated, but I’ll try to clear the fog. In our program, we focus on human-centred design to tackle the world’s wicked problems (climate change, healthcare, poverty, etc.). We try to understand current systems and situations using information available to us. We recognize patterns, and we make best guesses at possible, probable, and preferable futures (What are a few possibilities of what the healthcare system will look like in twenty years? What do we think it will really look like? What do we want it to look like?). Then, using design thinking, we try to engage in problem finding and problem solving that will bring about the future within which we want to live. I really chose this path because I felt it was a continuation of Quest in some ways. I could continue thinking critically, and I could try to improve people’s lives while I was at it.
The benefits of going to a small liberal arts & sciences university like Quest are extensive. Most of them relate to engagement – you engage with critical thought, your community, fellow students, professors, the academic world, the non-academic world, the natural environment, and more with a depth I never thought possible. When I speak to many undergraduate students at my current university, their day involves finishing up work and going home as soon as possible. At Quest, our work was play, and the university was home.”