The Curriculum Challenge allows the public to design a new socially innovative program
Students, faculty and members of the community at large are invited for the first time to create a new graduate certificate program available to Concordia students. The Concordia project under the name of CHNGR welcomes anyone to put forward new ideas for a new program through the community-developed initiative.
CHNGR is a project funded by RECODE, a program of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation which provides the opportunity for students to gain entrepreneurship skills. RECODE provides students with the knowledge to solve social problems to seek progress in our community and the world. Universities are able to apply for financing from RECODE, who picked 18 institutions including Concordia since the program’s establishment in 2014. Concordia announced the $500,000 award in November 2014.
The contest asks groups to submit an idea for a 15-credit graduate certificate that will prepare students to be socially-aware entrepreneurs and social innovators. This program could fuse with new and current courses to provide students with co-operative education. Mauricio Buschinelli, a Concordia ambassador for CHNGR, said there’s a possibility Concordia’s Institute for Co-operative Education could be involved in finding work for students in a new program.
Those wanting to get involved the curriculum challenge must submit their ideas in a two to three page statement in which they address the purpose of their certificate program, the content offered in the curriculum and how the education will be conducted.
“I think that it’s a really hot topic nowadays, a lot of universities are moving towards this model of experiential learning and learning the skills that you need to [produce] social impact,” said Buschinelli.
The six winning ideas will be announced by Feb.1. Each idea will be joined by a mentor to further develop ideas and will receive a $2,000 grant to aid in the development of each plan.
“Concordia has a lot of potential when it comes to the long-term social economy support through academics,” said CHNGR ambassador Ben Prunty. “A graduate certificate is a great move towards achieving that potential.”
Concordia mentors are available to help groups during the development process. The representative mentors at Concordia University include Marguerite Mendell of the School for Community and Public Affairs and Deborah Dysart-Gale of the Centre for Engineering in Society. In the final stage, the Challenge Committee will address these ideas and choose one to be formed into a certificate program available to students at Concordia. This idea will receive $3,000 in additional funding and be available for enrollment in Fall of 2017.
“The competition aspect of this is through the ideas and it’s not the team that will be approved or not to the next stage, it is the idea,” Buschinelli said. “Teams can dissolve and reform to continue moving the idea forward.”
When Buschinelli was asked about the idea his group prepared for the challenge, he said, “[my group] first did a lot of brainstorming around what did we want to include in this graduate certificate … what were the types of skills and themes we want these graduate students to cover and what are the kind of experiences we would like to offer them. We [then] started narrowing down what [this] looks like in a curricular grid and in an experiential component [then] how we can merge them.”
“The nature of what we are trying to accomplish is to create something new that is based on what the community wants and what potential graduates would want,” Buschinelli said. “So it’s being built out of experience of the people who are in the field of social innovation and social entrepreneurship and the people who will be potentially taking this course.”
“I think that this is a unique opportunity to design a certificate program and because Concordia is on board it feels as though this is actually going to happen,” said CHNG project coordinator Nicolas Nadeau. “It’s called a compete to collaborate challenge and people submit their ideas, but the idea is that community will be brought back together with the first pick of ideas and then it will be re-discussed. It’s a collaborative process.”
Ideas for the curriculum challenge should be submitted by Jan. 15, but organizers say it’s not a hard deadline. From the proposed ideas, the final product will be admitted in Fall of 2016 with the plan of offering this certificate program to students in Fall of 2017.
To find out more information and to submit your idea to the curriculum challenge, visit online at www.chngr.ca/en/curriculum-challenge/.