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Campus Life  

College launches Applied Bachelor of Arts degree

OC Kelowna

New four-year degree focuses on community research and evaluation

Who will be the future change-makers in our communities? Who will help organizations tackle the most pressing social issues we are faced with as a society? The answer might just be the graduates of a new program unlike any before it in the region.

Okanagan College has received provincial approval for its first new degree program in more than 15 years – and its focus couldn’t be timelier.

The Applied Bachelor of Arts: Community Research and Evaluation is a four-year baccalaureate degree based out of the College’s Kelowna campus with some courses offered in Salmon Arm, Vernon and Penticton.

The new degree will provide graduates with employable skills in applied research, as well as an understanding of how the social sciences and liberal arts actively contribute to a culturally diverse, sustainable society.

Graduates will come away with the knowledge and field experience to set them up for success in roles such as program administrators, managers, and analysts in social service agencies, non-profit organizations, community groups, and various levels of government – or as consultants, social policy researchers, and advocates for youth, women, families, minorities and cultural diversity.

“We are elated to be able to offer this new applied degree program,” says Robert Huxtable, Dean of Arts and Foundational Programs for Okanagan College. “And ‘applied’ really is the key word here, as this degree is focused on providing students with advanced, applied research skills suited to practical use in the region. Supervised field experience is a central component of the program.”

“It opens up some really exciting new pathways for students and creates opportunities for the many organizations around us with community research and program evaluation needs,” he adds.

One of those pathways will be a smooth transition to graduate studies for those interested.

Thanks to an innovative partnership with the University of British Columbia Okanagan’s School of Social Work, up to 15 qualifying graduates will be eligible each year to receive guaranteed entry into one of UBCO’s Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate studies programs – and of those 15 seats, five will be held specifically for students who are members of an aboriginal group and identify as a First Nation, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person.

“We look forward to welcoming the first graduating students into the UBC School of Social Work’s two-year MSW program,” says Dr. Edward Taylor, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Health & Social Development at UBC Okanagan. “We have worked closely with the College in the development of this degree, and see the value not only for a Social Work career but for students who choose to prepare for careers related to the program of study provided by the degree.”

The program was developed specifically for the context of B.C.’s Southern Interior. Community organizations across the region have voiced their strong support for the degree and are central in the pathway to applied research and field work opportunities for graduates.

“Community support for this degree has been incredible,” says Huxtable. “The community partners we’ve consulted with have made it very clear they’re experiencing a strong need for skilled social researchers. Students will be interested to know that this is not just a social work pathway. It’s a direct-to-work pathway in many areas related to community research and evaluation where our partners emphasize there is very real demand. The program places senior students in community organizations to develop community-based research questions, leading to supervised research projects that serve the organizations’ needs.” 

“This new degree is yet another example of how the College is responding with innovative programming that is training graduates to meet skills gaps and serve employers in our region’s communities and beyond,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“It also highlights the wonderful partnership between the College and UBC Okanagan, which continues to strengthen and diversify. These synergies are not just good for students, they’re good for the region. We’re very proud of the collaborative approach taken with this degree and are confident it will provide a very meaningful new applied education and training pathway for students.”

Applications opened this past week for the program’s inaugural intake in Fall 2021.

Learn more at okanagan.bc.ca/aba



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