KPU launches two new arts degrees

Mon, Nov 24, 2014

Metro Vancouver, B.C. – A degree dedicated to developing urban communities, and one to fostering intercultural communication within them will be coming to Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).

Next September, KPU will officially launch two new bachelor of arts programs – a major in applied geography, and a minor in language and culture.

“These new degrees complement KPU’s proven commitment to education that matters. They combine training that’s valued in the marketplace of careers with the intellectual and creative rigour of the traditional arts degree,” said KPU’s Dean of Arts Dr. Diane Purvey. “It’s the best of both worlds.”

The major in applied geography aims to enhance our ability to navigate and manage the city spaces where most of the world’s population lives. 

Whether it’s making simple, daily decisions such as how to get from A to B, or addressing more complex questions – where to locate a business or how best to respond to environmental problems – operating effectively in an urban setting requires geographic literacy. And at KPU, students in this flagship geography program will find their education equally as relevant close to home in the South Fraser region as it is around the world.

"I am very excited by this announcement,” said John Rose, chair of the university’s department of geography. “This new degree has been technically crafted to enhance KPU’s polytechnic mandate, providing students with a blended program of instruction in geographic concepts, theories and applied skills development. Graduates will be well-positioned for advanced academic study or employment in a range of public and private sector jobs.” 

As the next generation of urban planners, environmental consultants, marketers and real estate professionals learn how their spatial data handling skills fit into political, economic and social contexts, another cohort of KPU arts students will get an in-depth education in the foundations that ensure meaning and understanding don’t get lost in translation.

“This is wonderful news for our students,” said Olivier Clarinval, chair of KPU’s department of modern languages. “The main goal of our new minor is to help students develop strong communicative and cultural competence to prepare them to live and work in an increasingly global context – one which often requires good intercultural communication skills.”

One of the most unique features of KPU’s minor in language and culture is that it allows students to specialize in not one, but two separate languages, which can also be distinct from one another, as per each student’s choice. This multilingual learning is done while simultaneously developing expertise in linguistics or cultural studies. While students will have options to satisfy their specific areas of interest, such as Sikh culture, Islam in South Asia or gender in China, all will graduate with a trait in common: increased employability.

According to the British Columbia Labour Market Outlook 2010-2020, occupations in arts and culture are among the areas expected to experience the strongest growth in demand out of the more than one million job openings forecasted for B.C. from 2010-2020. A report by the Canadian Council on Learning also found that over half of the 133 Canadian business leaders surveyed found bilingual job-seekers to be more employable than their monolingual competitors, and more than four out of five Canadian companies (63 in total) said they would give preference to potential employees who could speak both English and French.

Be it jobs in geography, or in tourism, communications and education, in positions close or far from home, KPU students will have more options available to them next year, including applied research, co-op and study abroad opportunities.

“We are gearing up to hit the ground – and map the ground, and study the ground – running. We are very excited to soon be able to enroll students in our new program,” said Rose.

“We can’t wait to offer our new minor and finally acknowledge the achievements of our students with an interest in language and culture,” added Clarinval.

Both KPU’s minor in language and culture and major in applied geography will offer courses on the university’s Richmond and Surrey campuses, with the latter offering certain courses at KPU Langley. More information will become available at

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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