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9 strategic 'first moves'

From experiential learning to more research support, here are Concordia's 2016-17 priorities
October 5, 2016
By Karen McCarthy

Curriculum innovation has been identified as a priority in 2016-17. | Photo by Concordia University Curriculum innovation has been identified as a priority in 2016-17. | Photo by Concordia University

New institutes and think tanks. Summer schools. Curriculum transformation. More experts-in-residence. An Indigenous strategy.

These are just some of the “first moves” Concordia is making this academic year as part of the game plan to design a next-generation university.

The nine first moves are in addition to a number of exciting initiatives already underway, including the Horizon Postdoctoral Fellowships, a proposal to create a new Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering (unique in Quebec and only the second of its kind in Canada), the expansion of the District 3 Innovation Centre (D3), and launch of the Concordia University Press.

“Units across the university undertook extensive planning processes last year. Their input has been fundamental to developing strategies that advance our ambitions to doubling our research, teach for tomorrow, grow smartly, embrace the city, and embrace the world,” says Graham Carr, provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs. “Now it’s time to implement those strategies by supporting new initiatives that will benefit our students as well as our faculty and staff.”

At the September 21 Senate meeting, Carr provided an overview of the nine key initiatives to be launched during the 2016-17 academic year.

Facilitate research

The university will be looking at how it can create the best possible conditions for faculty to win more research grants. “By providing better support, we can continue to make remarkable gains in our research like we’ve done over the past 10 years,” Carr said.

Establish institutes and think tanks

On the heels of the successful launch earlier this year of the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology, Concordia plans to launch new institutes on preventive health and sustainable urbanization, and to unveil new think tanks in areas that address key social and economic challenges. The new Aviation Think Tank at Concordia, which launched on September 26, is one example

“We see these initiatives as opportunities for Concordia to be a research leader and a convenor of public conversations on issues that matter to the community.”

Transform curriculum

Concordia will be hiring two to three curriculum developers in 2016-17 to help faculty members design programs that speak to the needs of next-generation learners.

“Students come to our university because of our programs,” Carr told Senate. “But it’s a very competitive environment. We need the talent to help guide us through the process.”

Develop field and summer schools

What can we do to give our students a short-term, hands-on experience in the city? How can we provide a different kind of experience for our students?

One answer to both questions, said Carr, is to provide students with novel field- and summer-school opportunities. The university will look at offering four to five such schools next summer.

Expand experts/artists-in-residence programs

Building on the success of current initiatives, including the first journalist-in-residence program, the university plans to expand these opportunities.

“We want to attract more experts and artists from outside Concordia to come here and share their expertise, experience and knowledge with our students,” he said.

“The experts in-residence program will complement other initiatives designed to diversify the visibility of our expertise, such as a new Public Scholars Program that foregrounds the work of graduate students in the public sphere.”

Enhance student mobility opportunities

While the Concordia student population is highly international, Carr insists we can do more to provide opportunities for our students and graduates to plug into international networks.

“We live in a globalized world,” he said. “Diversity is the sine qua non of innovation and we want to give our students opportunities to connect internationally through cotutelles, joint programs, and double degrees.”

Launch recruitment and retention initiatives

Recruitment initiatives will focus on creating tailored pathways for particular student segments, beginning with streamlined pathways for CEGEP graduates and new offerings for non-Quebec Canadian and international undergraduate students who have extended credit requirements.

Retention activities will leverage existing services and support to help students succeed, and to graduate.

Develop an Indigenous strategy

Carr pointed out to Senate that Concordia has a lot of people doing exciting work in Indigenous studies, and the university is very well positioned with Quebec’s Indigenous communities.

Still “we can and must do more,” he said, adding that the university will be developing a strategy that takes seriously our institutional responsibilities to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Offer development opportunities for faculty and staff

Providing staff and faculty with professional development opportunities is part of becoming a next-generation university, Carr said. Concordia will work to provide clearer career pathways and ongoing professionalization while fostering creative leadership.

Stay tuned

After outlining the above priorities for 2016-17, Carr emphasized that the nine first moves are just a start.

“We can’t do everything at once,” he said. “We’re getting started in these nine areas, but there’s lots more to come. And there’s nothing preventing anyone from moving on their own ideas that aren’t named on this list.”

Read more about Concordia’s game plan and its first moves.



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