A hand draws lightbulbs on a blackboard. One of the bulbs is emphasized, implying it is lit up.

Diverse Approaches to University Programing Drives Innovation

By Roseann O’Reilly Runte

The latest report by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario makes a number of statements which are based on assumptions which should be revised. Research done through networks and collaboration among universities is of very great importance and must be supported as a top priority. Few problems can be solved by researcher working in a single institution. At the same time, researchers in all institutions, large and small, can participate in important work.  For example, the recent Nobel prize in physics was awarded to Dr. Arthur McDonald at Queen’s who worked with SNOlab, a collaborative project supported by teams at several universities including Carleton.

In pursuing a vision of differentiation, the report also examines student access, demand, experience, and graduation outcomes.  The report suggests that the small number of institutions that balance these goals in such a way as to maintain stability and institutional fiscal health should work on distinguishing themselves. The authors of the report seem unaware of how distinct these institutions are and the extraordinary innovations which have occurred in recent years in some universities.

For example, Carleton has revolutionized its curriculum, adding 28 new interdisciplinary programs which do not exist at other Canadian universities, making Carleton grads the ones who will be sought after for the jobs of the future. These degree programs include, for example: Human-Computer Interaction, Photonics and Laser Technology, Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, Indigenous Policy and Administration, African Studies, Communications Engineering and Sustainable Energy and Policy. Unique, joint programs with Algonquin College have been launched with students studying at both institutions at once and getting two degrees simultaneously in a shorter time frame. Every department in the faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers co-op options. The Sprott School of Business offers a minor in Entrepreneurship for every major from Art History to Biology. The new Global and International Studies program takes all students abroad, achieving one of Canada’s goals to increase international educational opportunities. The programs in Health Sciences and Health: Science, Technology and Policy focus on needed fields such as the aging population. The Migration Diaspora Studies is now consulted internationally.

Carleton’s entrepreneurship programs have created more than 100 companies in the last two years, an academic journal in the field is read worldwide, and gained global recognition for the international companies it established in countries ranging from South Africa and Nigeria to India and China. Social enterprise development (1125@Carleton) has fostered the work of faculty who are considered leading researchers in this field.

Interdisciplinary research and teams in cross-disciplines from aerospace and bio-mechanical engineering, to water, energy, transportation and the environment are producing excellent results that have global impact. The university was recently recognized for its leadership in the area of the environment for its combination of research, teaching, student projects and the use of the campus as a living laboratory.

This creative, energetic and successful approach explains why Carleton has achieved an enviable balance between its goals, quality, programs, admissions and budget. The success of these initiatives is reflected in the enrolment, student satisfaction and international recognition Carleton receives. Many other Ontario universities can also claim significant achievements.

Roseann O’Reilly Runte
President, Carleton University