UBC TRC; screenshot from ok.ubc.ca

Amidst a year that has already been full of change, UBCO recently announced a complete restructuring of their Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. Students beginning their studies in 2021 under either the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies or the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will automatically be following this significantly transformed set of requirements in order to obtain their degree, and students who started in 2020 will have the option either to switch to the new structure or to remain within the previous structure.

Most significantly, UBCO has done away with the ‘breadth requirements,’ which required students to complete at least 18 credits from two course lists: Social Sciences and Humanities. Instead, students must now choose from two revamped lists: Foundational Requirements and Distribution Requirements. Students must take 21 credits from the Foundational list, which includes the subject areas of Communication, Critical Thinking, Indigenous Content, and Scientific Literacy or Numeracy.

Most notable within this list is the new Indigenous Content requirement, which, according to the course calendar, reinforces UBCO’s “commitment to think beyond the inherited thought processes replicating colonial assumptions of past practices and honour the knowledge, political, and social systems of Indigenous communities, UBC Okanagan requires that students develop a competence in understanding Indigenous ways of knowing.”

Furthermore, Bryce Traister, dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies and acting dean of the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, noted: “by introducing an Indigenous studies requirement, UBCO is joining a small handful of universities in Canada working to realize the promise of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission process through education—an important step in creating lasting change for our communities.”

Additionally notable is that BA students are now only required to take three credits of Scientific Literacy of Numeracy, rather than the previous requirement of six credits. Moreover, from the Distribution list, students must take 12 credits from subject areas including Creativity; Digital Literacy; Power, Diversity, and Cultures; and Sustainability.

Perhaps most noteworthy here is the Sustainability requirement, which, according to the course calendar “will provide students with the knowledge needed to explore the complexities of sustainability and empower them to make informed decisions and take responsible actions for environmental integrity, economic viability, and a just society for present and future generations while respecting social and cultural diversity.”

Overall, the number of credits required for the BA degree has not changed, but what has changed is the University’s outlook on what are the most important skills and knowledge for its students to acquire given our current climate. Traister explained that with this newly structured degree, “graduates will be taught to think critically and creatively, to learn from the past and re-imagine the future—better, greener, safer and more just.” In the midst of the remarkable social and political changes that have occurred over the past year, it seems there is no better time than now to revitalize the way that our youth are educated.

Check out the linked document to see in-depth descriptions of the various degrees and courses offered through the BA program at UBCO.