Changes to academic programs

By Nicole Dionne

The 2011­-2012 academic year started off this week with changes, and not just the new students. Several faculties have undergone changes in their curriculum with some programs being suspended and a few more being added. The affected faculties are Kinesiology, Communications and Culture, Social Work, Education and Nursing.

The course-based Master of Kinesiology degree program is currently running with 10 students registered in Fall 2011. These 10 students will complete the MKin degree requirements in December 2011 and convocate June 2012. No new students were admitted to the MKin program for September 2011.

“There were two key faculty members lost who were integral to that program,” said vice president academic Ola Mohajer and a member of the Academic Program Committee, a sub-committee of the General Faculties Council. The Academic Program Committee must approve all changes to curriculum at the University of Calgary.

Kinesiology professor Neil Eves resigned last summer to take up a position at another university while Kinesiology professor David Smith unexpectedly announced that he was going to retire at the end of the 2011 calendar year.

The faculty of Communications is suspending graduate programs as well. The Communication Studies and Culture and Society programs are being reorganized.

“They’re not completely taken off the charts but it’s being looked into to basically create one degree that combines both of them because they’re so overlapping. They’re working on reinstating one combined program,” said Mohajer.

The provincial government mandates that programs are only allowed to be suspended for a maximum of one year and suspensions are only allowed if there is work being done on the program.

“They’re put in place so that the programs can be worked on and be improved,” said Mohajer.

Suspensions are put into effect at the request of the faculty.

“If they decide it is something that they really need time and resources to work on while not administering the program, it will then go to the academic programs committee where that body will decide whether the suspension can happen or whether it is not actually needed,” said Mohajer.

Currently, these suspended programs are not taking incoming students. Students already in these programs will be uneffected by the suspended status of their programs.

Communication and Culture has made note of the changes on its website. However, there is no indication of the changes on the Kinesiology website.

“We’ve been assured that they’ll be able to complete their degrees without any problems,” said Mohajer.

The faculty of education also underwent some changes. Sub-degree specialties were consolidated within graduate programs offered by the faculty, including the educational research master’s program and the steward of the profession doctorate program.

The Bachelor of Social Work curriculum was revised to integrate students transferring from a university background and students entering after completing a social work diploma from a college. Previously, these two groups were treated as separate streams with different curricula.

“They each bring very different learning needs and very different backgrounds,” said dean of social work, Jackie Sieppert. “We have treated those two groups very separately and they have essentially been isolated from one another in terms of the curriculum and course delivery that we offer.”

Due largely to a request from students, the faculty of Social Work implemented a new curriculum that would allow these two groups to interact and learn together. This is the first year in nearly a decade that these two different streams will have an opportunity to learn together.

“By getting them into one classroom we think that’s going to enrich the learning of both groups. That’s really what the new curriculum is about,” said Sieppert.

Another change of program occurred at the U of C’s campus in Qatar.

“There were requests for some sort of early exit program so they could work in the field earlier, because of the demand for nurses, with the option that they can come back and continue their bachelor degree,” said Mohajer.

“It’s a very special kind of program because universities don’t generally offer diplomas, but this one’s special because you can come right back in and then get your rn,” Mohajer added.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained misinformation regarding the Master of Kinesiology program.