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U of S's northern research centre to close, master’s programs facing suspension PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 15:19

The International Centre for Northern Governance and Development masters' program's stop in Montreal Lake in early May during the Centre's last-ever field school in northern Saskatchewan. Photo courtesy @icngd, Facebook.

A centre focused on northern Saskatchewan research will permanently close in less than a month, with six staff losing their jobs and two master’s programs impacted.

The University of Saskatchewan had been looking for options on how to proceed with the centre, called the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development (ICNGD), and delivery of its two master’s programs after the province pulled the centre’s $1.1 million in targeted funding in the March budget.

The centre is comprised of a number of offices and teaching spaces at the U of S, and University vice-provost teaching and learning Patti McDougall said there is no current plan on what will happen with that space once the ICNGD ceases operations on June 15. At this time, it’s unknown whether staff will be able to find other roles in the university, McDougall said.

As for the master’s programs, all current students will be able to finish their degrees. In the future, the Masters of Northern Governance and Development (MNGD) will take no new applications for the 2017-18 academic year, while the Master’s of Governance and Entrepreneurship in Northern and Indigenous Areas (GENI) will continue taking new students in the fall.

However, the days are also numbered for the GENI, which is a joint program with the Arctic University of Norway.

“When we began this initiative with them (the Norwegian University) we had always talked about suspending intake in 18-19 to take stock of and take a look at what was being offered and whether the program was doing what it needed to for the students who were enrolled and for the people graduating and working in the field,” McDougall said.

In both cases, with the MNGD and with GENI, McDougall referred to these end dates as a “pause,” in order to find out whether the content being offered is desirable for northern students. She said, for example, it’s possible there’s a demand for a master’s of business administration in the north.

With current students GENI and MNGD students and those accepted into GENI in the fall, their programming will be absorbed into the Johnson-Shomoya Graduate School of Public Policy and delivered by staff there.

When asked about what will happen with the ICNGD’s current work with New North to create a northern Saskatchewan strategy, McDougall said she is unfamiliar with the project. She said, in general, when commitments have been made to research projects “we will always want to do whatever we can to honour those commitments.”

Overall, she said research being done by the U of S – through ICNGD and other faculties – will be analyzed by ICNGD’s Northern Advisory Board. Currently, she said the university is “assembling an inventory of all of our programming and all of our research and all of what I consider to be outreach, association, network-type activities.”

She said the university still plans to turn to the advisory board, comprised of industry, northern leaders, and others to “give advice on what they see the role to the University of Saskatchewan being going forward" in northern Saskatchewan.

MBC recently did a 3-part series on ICNGD. You can read those stories here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 16:13
 
Green Lake powers up PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Bear   
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 13:04

Solar panels on Green Lake Community Centre.  Photo courtesy Chloe Colitz

The Northern Village of Green Lake is officially going green as of today.

The village is flicking the switch today to start generating its own solar power that will go back into the SaskPower grid.

The community installed 96 solar panels on the roof of the community hall this spring.

The project is the community's first step in an effort to invest in renewable energy in what is hoped to be a larger solar initiative that aims to eventually provide much of the electrical power needs of the village.

"This project has been a wonderful opportunity for our municipality and our community members to be exposed to the positive impact of renewable energy. It is the first renewable energy project in Green Lake but will not be the last," said Northern Village of Green Lake Mayor, Ric Richardson.

Richardson says the community has been looking at renewable energy alternatives for a few years now because of issues with the power grid.  The aging power transmission lines in the northwest part of the province have been susceptible to power failures in the last year.

Richardson says the village is a long ways from the source of the power and there is a lot of distance in between where problems can occur.

He says this project will not be enough to generate enough power for the community, but he says if it is proven that it is an advantage to have it, the village will look at expanding and adding to the system.

“Once we grow it, I think the issue of power reliability will be much stronger by having power generation within the community,” he added.

He says in the future, the village and municipality may look at using some farmland for a solar power farm or use other community buildings for solar panels.  Either way, he says it will help reduce costs to the community.

“In the time that we (the Village of Green Lake) put pen to paper on this project, power costs have increased by 8 percent,” said Richardson.  “And over the next number of years, I expect to see more increases in power.”

In addition to receiving monies from Bullfrog Power, a green energy retailer out of Ontario, Green Lake received funding from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program and a rebate from SaskPower.

In Saskatchewan, Bullfrog Power community projects include solar installations on Saskatoon's Broadway Theatre and The Two Twenty Building in Saskatoon, as well as a partnership with the First Nations Power Authority.

 
Northlands and U of S team up to offer more opportunities for northern students PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dean Bear   
Wednesday, 24 May 2017 10:52

Photo courtesy Northlands College and University of Saskatchewan

Northern students looking to take engineering courses through the University of Saskatchewan may not have to travel so far beginning this fall.

The U of S and Northlands College in La Ronge have signed a memorandum of understanding  (MOU) for the northern college to offer pre-engineering courses starting in September.

The Pre-Engineering and Science (PRES) program is offered by Northlands College in Buffalo Narrows, Creighton, Ile-a-la-Crosse and La Ronge. The 42-week program runs from September to April, and includes high school upgrading, 10 university courses and programming designed to help students successfully transition to the U of S.

"It can be quite challenging for people living in northern Saskatchewan to pursue an education in science or engineering, and since 2014 we’ve been in discussions with Northlands College to figure out how we can help," said Patti McDougall, vice-provost teaching and learning at the U of S. "Though the College of Engineering coordinated this project, I am proud to say that this new PRES program will provide residents of northern Saskatchewan the chance to locally begin science and engineering programming leading to a range of colleges at the U of S."

McDougall said in a news release that the PRES program emerged from the recognition that Indigenous people are underrepresented in science and engineering. The design of the program began with the idea that high school students in northern Saskatchewan need stable access to courses, like pre-calculus and calculus, and may need to be supported in these difficult courses. She said success in these areas can lead to admission into university-level programming in science, technology, engineering and math.

Alongside a supportive math environment, McDougall said other university-level courses will provide students with a foundation in chemistry and physics, which are requirements for post-secondary science and engineering programs.

The class credits obtained through the PRES program will transfer towards multiple diploma and degree-level program requirements at most colleges and universities, which will give students the option to take fewer classes in their first year, helping to ease the transition to college or university, according to Toby Greschner, president and CEO of Northlands College.

The partnership "really makes it a lot smoother for students from the north to begin their careers in the math science world and engineering world and be able to transfer to campuses down south to finish those degrees and also then to get those high end job that we're really working for students to achieve," Greschner said in an interview on Wednesday afternoon.

If a PRES program graduate chooses to attend the U of S, they will have the opportunity to take part in a free two-week university transition program in August, which will provide them with personal supports and program-specific information.

The first cohort of PRES program students starts this September at Northlands College. The college is accepting applications until June 1.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 16:55
 
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