In Laurier’s ongoing pursuit to expand the Brantford campus, the administration took one step further into the process with the addition of two new programs, a Bachelor of Social Work, and Master of Arts in Social Justice and Community Engagement. The additions were officially announced on May 13.

“We would like to continue to grow Brantford comparable to the Waterloo campus,” said Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier Waterloo’s Vice President: Academic & Provost. “These two programs are really a solid foundation building on existing Laurier strengths.”

Starting in the fall semester of 2013, prospective and current undergraduate students will have the opportunity to study in the new BSW. The four-year program, still in development, will offer students a practicum component, much like the one provided under the Concurrent Education program. Robert Basso, an associate professor of Social Work at the Waterloo campus, expanded, stating that the BSW will incorporate Laurier Brantford’s interdisciplinary curriculum, with one particular focus on the relations between the First Nations and European settlers.

“Social Work will draw on the strengths of many diverse courses offered through partner departments such as Psychology, Criminology, Contemporary Studies, Indigenous Studies and others,” Basso commented in an e-mail response.
The Master of Arts in Social Justice and Community Engagement program is only the second graduate program to be offered in Brantford, since its inception. According to MacLatchy, this program is about “understanding when there are inequalities in society, and how they can be rectified through social justice.”

Currently, the Master’s program has only eight students, with the hope that there will be up to 10, along with a total of 18 faculty members from various disciplines to instruct and advise the students.

“This was just a natural fit since it used faculty from all across the Brantford campus,” said Brenda Murphy, the program’s director. “We’re looking to place students with an advisor in many places of [the student’s] interest.”
Much like the BSW, the MA will have practical component as well. Students will be learning theory in the fall, followed by 120 hours of community placement work in the winter term.

“One of the most innovative aspects of the program is that it’s the only social justice program in Canada with community placement,” Brenda Murphy remarked.

Murphy believes that the structure of the program creates a perfect situation, where students can take what they’ve learned in theory courses and apply it directly to the through their placements. Placement also gives the students a chance to help the community, which in turn can benefit both parties.

The addition of the MA will also bring in a larger pool graduate students that can serve as teaching assistants. In recent years, Laurier Brantford’s professors have felt an increase in the need for more teaching assistants, an issue that will be directly addressed with the introduction of the new Master’s program.

“Over time we hope to add more grad programs, which means there will be more grad students to help with assisting professors,” MacLatchy stated.

MacLatchy also feels that the addition of both programs should add an “intellectual vibrancy” to the Brantford community.

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