New KPU program helps students save lives

Wed, Jul 2, 2014

Metro Vancouver, B.C. – If you want to save the world, Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) can teach you how to do it.

KPU will offer the region’s most distinctive credential in non-profit studies this fall, appealing to anyone who is passionate about social change and wants to make a career out of helping others.

“This is a vehicle for people who are altruistic in nature and who want to work in a field or for an organization that aligns with their views and allows them the flexibility to make a difference,” said KPU anthropology instructor Larissa Petrillo.

The 30-credit Certificate in Non-Governmental Organizations and Nonprofit Studies at KPU was six years in the making and follows extensive research and collaboration with the non-profit sector, current and former students, other post-secondary institutions and experts in the field.

The number of non-governmental agencies operating worldwide has been growing since the Second World War, with parallel growth in the labour market. For graduates, that means job opportunities with organizations that serve a broad mandate to address humanitarian, human rights and environmental issues, and problems experienced by marginalized populations and developing nations.

What’s more, Petrillo said, is that these jobs are local and international, allowing grads to work where and with whom they wish.

“This is a movement that changes the world at your doorstep, and moves across borders,” she said.

While the program is likely to resonate most among recent high school graduates – the millennials born after generation X known for their familiarity with communication, media and digital technologies – it is also well suited to mature students making a career change, and international students from countries like India and China, where the number of NGOs has been increasing markedly in recent years.

Petrillo, who specializes in social and cultural change, believes millennials will be attracted to the program by their sense of dissatisfaction with how previous generations have managed the planet, motivated by a desire to fix what’s wrong.

“They see all the negative effects of what others have done and they sense the need for a radical shift to move forward with social change. They are the generation that will get things done.”

The Certificate in Non-Governmental Organizations and Nonprofit Studies is distinct from other programs because it bridges the Faculty of Arts and the School of Business. The program is a deliberate alignment that ensures graduates have knowledge of philanthropy as well as key aspects of financial management and accountability.

The program starts this September. More information is available here.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at


Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist, KPU
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

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