TRU eyes Indigenous studies, criminology programs as visual arts dwindle

TRU eyes new arts programs

Indigenous studies and criminology are among possible new programs being floated for the school of arts at Thompson Rivers University.

Dr. Richard McCutcheon, faculty of arts dean, told TRU's senate four program areas were identified for immediate action by the faculty over the next two years.

“Indigenous studies, counselling psychology, criminology and communication design came out as really significant areas,” he said.

McCutcheon said he believes Indigenous studies is an area the university needs to place a greater focus on, saying that the topic is of interest to many Indigenous students and stakeholders on campus.

“We will, of course, do it as allies, we will listen carefully to what the Indigenous community wishes and we will work together to help make that happen," he said.

“What we did in this plan is create a place so that when we are a part of those conversations, we've already indicated this is a top priority for the faculty of arts."

McCutcheon said that counselling psychology is an area of significant interest across the Kamloops-Thompson school district and Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.

“Post-pandemic there was a bit of a spike of interest in this because people realize that emotional, psychological well-being and health is critical in our society and for students to take an interest in,” he said.

“We also know that the Indigenous community has indicated that the idea of counselling, especially Indigenous led counselling initiatives, is critical. And so we want to partner with them and we can help to support that.”

Counselling psychology was identified as an area with significant growth potential for attracting and increasing domestic student enrolment as well.

A new major and minor in criminology was another area of significant interest to local high school students and the Indigenous community, and is highly conducive to employment prospects across the province.

“This is actually an area of interest across many stakeholders, and the whole point of it is to use a critical analysis of the problems faced by the criminal justice system,” McCutcheon said.

“I think this could be one of the most exciting things we offer, because I think that there's such a need for this in our society right now."

A communication design major was also identified as an area of significant interest, expressed by SD73 and international students who want to pursue careers in digital art and graphic design.

“We usually think of this as digital content development, digital art, in years past we referred to graphic design. It includes all sorts of elements from visual arts that it builds on,” McCutcheon said.

The new major would host a variety of courses already available in TRU's dwindling visual arts program, and would require the expertise of visual arts faculty members to deliver the classes.

“This is a bit of a snapshot of really exciting ideas that I want us to really pay attention to because I want you to be able to imagine the faculty of arts rejuvenated and reimagined in ways that will address the needs of the city, of the region and our own internal needs,” McCutcheon said.

“This is where we are talking about programming that the faculty of arts wants to bring forward, and is bringing forward in some cases, and we want to resource this because we believe in this.”

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