Arts, Engineering dual degree breaks barriers

by Bruce Mason
Staff writer

An innovative new program will provide an opportunity for students to break through traditional barriers by simultaneously pursuing both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Engineering) degree. The program will begin in September.

In the past, students with talents and interests in the two fields had to choose one while they abandoned the other. That all changes with the Faculty of Applied Science and Faculty of Arts initiative.

"Earning two bachelor degrees is not uncommon, but achieving them at the same time is," says Assoc. Prof. Bruce Dunwoody, associate dean of Engineering Student Services.

The combined BA/BASc program allows students to earn the two degrees concurrently in less time than if they were pursued consecutively.

The launch of the combined degree program is directly in line with UBC's commitment to interdisciplinary and student-driven education in the university's Trek 2000 vision.

"This very important initiative will enable students to consider their professional degree work in the context of the social, economic and cultural settings that work serves and on which that work has an impact," says UBC Dean of Arts Shirley Neuman.

Michael Isaacson, dean of UBC's Faculty of Applied Science, was a driving force behind the new program. He was looking for a way to combine the strength of the professional degree in engineering with exposure to liberal arts and humanities.

"Students will better develop their critical thinking abilities and communication skills, while developing a broad base of knowledge and a broad outlook that will serve them, and society, well," he says.

The program wasn't designed to promote any particular career path, but to provide more options for students to explore, says Isaacson.

One member of the committee that created the dual degree has first-hand knowledge of its value and appeal.

Political Science Assoc. Prof. Kathryn Harrison earned degrees in both Engineering and Political Science.

"After completing a master's degree in Chemical Engineering with an emphasis on environmental technologies, I became convinced that many environmental problems are economic and political as well," she says. "I've always been torn between my interest in applied science and the social sciences and would have jumped at the chance to combine them at the undergraduate level."

The student-driven program meets all of the requirements of the two individual degrees by interweaving terms in Arts and Engineering over a five-year period.

Students interested in the combined BA/BASc program may apply for admission to the Dual Degree Board of Studies through either Engineering Student Services at 604-822-6556 or the Arts Advising Office at 604-822-3247.