Top Ten

November 23, 2016

McMaster to launch degree combining engineering and health sciences

McMaster University will be launching a new Integrated Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences Program in September 2017. McMaster states that the program is the first of its kind in Canada. Students will take a common first year before entering either the Bachelor of Engineering and Biomedical Engineering or the Honours Bachelor of Health Sciences in Health, Engineering Science and Entrepreneurship degree program. Program Co-director Hubert de Bruin states that “students who graduate from the IBEHS program will not only have the ability to analyze complex health care problems, but also to develop unique, effective solutions and take them to the marketplace.” McMaster

UAlberta to vote on tuition increase for international students

The University of Alberta is reportedly considering an increase of roughly 3% for foreign student tuition that will produce an extra $2.4M in annual revenue. The Edmonton Journal reports that the school’s board of directors will vote on whether to approve the application of its Academic Price Index, a formula developed with the university and student bodies in order to help narrow the gap between operating expenditure and revenue. The increase has faced criticism from the school’s Graduate Students’ Association, yet UAlberta Vice-Provost Lisa Collins replies that the change is “an inflationary increase that is absolutely reasonable in the circumstances.” Edmonton Journal

Lessons learned during a year off from academia

“In the spring of 2015, I resolved to stop being an adjunct professor,” writes Darcy Upton in a reflection on five lessons that she learned while taking a break from academic life. Upton describes lessons such as how academic experience can be an asset in a nonacademic job role, rather than a liability; how academia could hamper creativity; and a reflection on the toxicity that can exist within the academy as well as in the world outside. “I would encourage any grad student or adjunct who is struggling in academe to take a year to explore life on the outside,” advises Upton. “You may find the strength and resolve to leave higher education forever -- or to return to it with renewed self-confidence and vigor.” Inside Higher Ed

Dal offers minor in African-Canadian history

 “The marginalized study of African-Canadian history and culture has taken centre stage at Dalhousie University this fall,” writes Katie Ingram for Maclean’s. The university has introduced a new minor in black and African diaspora studies that will reportedly offer a contemporary and historic view of black history in Canada. “It’s still a submerged area of study,” says program creator Afua Cooper. “Frankly speaking, I would say people in the university system haven’t seen black studies as something worthy of scholarly inquiry.” Cooper adds that the minor is particularly topical following the advent of Black Lives Matter, and says she hopes that the program draws interests from students and the community. The minor will reportedly require three courses and electives totaling 12 credit hours. Maclean’s | Dal (Program Description)

Okanagan’s Vernon Campus to build new trades facility with $6.2M investment

Okanagan College's Vernon Campus has received $6.2M from the Canadian and British Columbian governments to create a new trades training centre. The funding will support the construction of the 1,250 square-metre Trades Training Centre, which aims to address a shortage of available trades training shops in the region. The centre will include facilities such as multi-purpose trades shop and a dedicated welding shop, as well as supporting Aboriginal and Women in Trades Training programs. “This investment in the future of trades training in Vernon will create meaningful opportunities for the people of this region for decades to come,” said Okanagan President Jim Hamilton. BC

MRU introduces fall term reading week to support mental health, academic success

Mount Royal University has announced that it will offer students an extra week of support beyond the classroom by adding a fall term reading week starting in October 2017. The Students’ Association of Mount Royal University applauded the decision to move forward with the fall term reading week, after two years of a successful pilot project that included an additional pair of “reading days” in November. “Initiatives like this show our institution’s dedication to putting students’ mental health first and addressing needs that have existed for a long time,” said Robert Nelson, Vice-President Academic at the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University. “We feel strongly that the timing of this break will be extremely beneficial to students’ mental health and well-being,” added MRU President David Docherty. MRU | CBC

New TRU law course will get students to design legal apps

A professor at Thompson Rivers University has developed a new course that will teach students to use technology to increase the public’s access to legal knowledge. The course, titled Designing Legal Expert Systems: Apps for Access to Justice, is reportedly one of the first of its kind in Canada. Creator Katie Sykes says that students of the course will aid non-profit “client” organizations to develop a new type of app based on the problems the groups are looking to solve and the users they are looking to support. “Students will make a tangible, meaningful impact by developing a platform that allows quick and convenient access to legal information in language that is easy to understand,” said Sykes. TRU

Algonquin, Cambrian partner on researching PSE barriers for Indigenous students

Algonquin College and Cambrian College have partnered to work with Indigenous communities to research the barriers facing Indigenous students at either institution. The Indigenous Student Performance Success Program will strive to identify the factors that are more likely to help or hinder Indigenous students looking to pursue PSE at either school. “Our joint focus will be especially useful in terms of understanding student success, which is critical in terms of making plans for the future for all of our campuses,” said Algonquin President Cheryl Jensen. Cambrian President Bill Best added that the colleges “have been collaborating and sharing best practices in attracting and supporting Indigenous students from diverse regions and communities for some time now. We are pleased to sign an agreement that will formalize our collaboration in support of our shared goals.” Algonquin Cambrian

How the right diversity practices in higher ed can help build a diverse STEM workforce

There is plenty of work to be done in increasing diversity both in the STEM workforce and in postsecondary institutions, write Jennifer C Danek and Marc Nivet, which is “all the more reason, then, for us to redouble our efforts in researching and sharing effective practices for improving campus diversity -- and identifying ineffective practices that we should stop.” Danek and Nivet reflect on a number of successful initiatives, and call for an increased amount of research to better support underrepresented students. In particular, they note that research must identify effective interventions for reducing stereotype threat, develop strategies to help these students access high-impact practices such as internships; and identify pedagogy that can boost student success in gateway courses. Inside Higher Ed

Fanshawe, Chippewa of the Thames First Nation, partner on on-reserve learning

Fanshawe College and the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation are officially celebrating a new partnership between the two groups. Fanshawe and COTT have collaborated to offer a Personal Support Worker program on-reserve this fall, and Fanshawe states that it will begin offering entrepreneurial and small business programs in January 2017. “Partnerships with Canada's educational institutions like the one we have with Fanshawe helps to write a new history of education for First Nations living in their communities,” says Chief Leslee White-eye. “The program is designed to meet community job shortages, while providing quality programming close to home in a supportive learning environment created for the people of Chippewa of the Thames First Nation.” Fanshawe