2015 marked 40 years for the Bachelor of Arts Community Studies degree at CBU. Originally founded in 1975 as Problem Centered Studies, the BACS degree has been CBU’s best-kept secret for quite some time. BACS was the first degree program offered at CBU and is based on a small group, self-directed pedagogical approach developed at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
A program designed for those who have interests in and feel passionate about their community, students often take the three or four year degree to pursue careers in areas such as policing, education, social work, child care, community development, recreation and health promotion, journalism, and many other rewarding fields. A BACS degree prepares students to connect with their communities as active citizens.
The BACS degree develops the personal growth of students through various learning communities (virtual, imagined, or interconnected). Students learn through critical thinking and problem-solving, action research, and hands-on experience in the community. BACS focuses on the personal growth of students, and students are encouraged to engage with community members first hand, learning through conversation, interviews, services and action.
Students are enrolled in a series of core Community Studies courses, but also take majors and minors in whatever field they are interested in (conventional options such as history, anthropology or philosophy, but also applied options such as psychology, communication, or sport and human kinetics). Students have the option of day or night courses, online-learning, courses taught in community and specialized courses related to their chosen career such as policing.
Pam Seville, a nearly 28-year facilitator in the degree now retired, feels that the BACS degree produces many thoughtful, creative and “I can do this” graduates. “The BACS degree will continue to evolve as community needs and issues change; small groups of passionate students will continue to make a difference in their communities through their interventions,” says Pam.
For Pam, some highlights over her 28 years of BACS involvement have been the addition of mature students to the cohort and the wealth of experiences they brought, the partnerships formed with NS, PEI, NB, and other community colleges for continued learning, the development of CBU’s first wholly online degree program, and the evolution of the work placement as an integral piece of the degree.
As for the next 40 years of the program, Dr. Pat Maher, Chair of the Department of Community Studies, notes that BACS will continue to evolve, as community issues change and the rest of the educational landscape changes to become more like BACS. “We’ve got to continue to innovate and explore further industry demands and community needs,” he says.
Wherever the next 40 years takes BACS, conscious groups and caring classrooms will continue to be created, and the community at CBU will continue to widen beyond the university through diversity in each BACS students’ unique interests.