East meets west in new degree

September 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

A new bachelors degree program at Kwantlen could have students looking distinctly eastward for inspiration.

History professor Frank Abbott attended the most recent Kwantlen senate meeting to speak about the creation of a Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies program.

“We started discussing it five years ago,” said Abbott, one of the developers for the new degree.

He and his associates felt that this degree was an obvious one to create, given the demographics of Kwantlen students, and the rise of status of countries such as India and China.

The program combines a number of existing courses in several different faculties, including history, psychology and sociology.

“The courses have been here for years. Why not put it together so you can give students a coherent package?” he asked.

In the program, students will be able to gain an understanding of how Asian culture has developed and works, both outside and inside Canada.

Because the degree is less academically driven, unlike its counterparts at UBC or SFU, Abbott believes the courses will also be beneficial to those outside the program.

Business students, he mentioned, could benefit from gaining a sense of Asian culture, allowing them to be more effective in overseas transactions.

Their goal is to “overcome the cultural ignorance that afflicts many North Americans, by giving our students an insight into these cultures.”

And Abbott and his associates are trying to spread the influence as far as possible.

He hopes that, once it becomes a full-fledged program, opportunities and funding for sending students abroad will be available.

The developer team is also fighting a policy that states all the third- and fourth-year courses would be taught at the Surrey campus.

With the new Skytrain running past it, it would be a bad idea to exclude Richmond campus from the higher-level courses, he said.

By offering couress at both locations, Abbott thinks that Kwantlen can capture those students who make look to other institutions for their education.

While the new degree was passed without opposition at Monday’s Senate meeting, Abbott still has a long way to go to get his program approved.

They’ll need to submit their full proposal, with course outlines and potential teachers, to the senate for approval, which they hope to do at the November meeting.

“We hope it could be ready by next fall,” he said.

In Abbott’s favour is the powerful support it has garnered, as Dave Atkinson, president of Kwantlen and chair of the senate supports the creation of the program.

“When you look at the demographic of Kwantlen campuses, this is a program that is long, long overdue,” he said.