Thompson Rivers University

Province approves TRU master’s program in justice and rights

  Posted on: May 13, 2022

KAMLOOPS–Thompson Rivers University (TRU) now offers a new Master of Arts in Human Rights and Social Justice.

The university has received government approval for the program, which launches in September.

The 16-month-long program consists of four core components that include Indigenous ways of knowing and a requirement to do hands-on field study work. Up to 30 students will be admitted each year.

TRU Dean of Arts Rick McCutcheon said what makes this program unique is that it combines human rights and social justice, rather than teaching one or the other separately.

“This is the only program of this type in BC and Western Canada that has this kind of blending of human rights and social justice, so students come out with a well-rounded master’s degree,” he said.

“We wanted an umbrella to bring human rights and social justice into dialogue.”

Students will examine such issues as homelessness, truth and reconciliation, poverty, climate change and war. Graduates will come out prepared to work for non-government organizations, a range of societies, businesses that practice corporate social responsibility and other organizations, he said.

“It’s a program for practical people who want to make a difference in the world. It’s a program that focuses on providing real skills in helping people understand complex issues in the real world,” McCutcheon continued.

“This new program is a natural for TRU, as it aligns perfectly with our vision and mission and what kind of institution we want to be. A program like this intends to make differences in people’s lives,” said TRU President Brett Fairbairn.

“TRU is the kind of post-secondary institution that envisions having social impact, and I am certain the first class of graduates from this program, as well as all who follow in the years to come, will make our communities and our world better. I am proud to see TRU leading the way with this kind of program.”

“By introducing a justice and community focused program, it’s clear that TRU is focused on engaging graduate students in social issues and Indigenous ways of knowing, with on-the-ground real-life impacts,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “I’d like to acknowledge the good work by TRU for moving forward with opportunities for students to share their knowledge in helping create communities that are culturally safe.”

McCutcheon said the program will benefit the city of Kamloops as students go out on their field studies.

“This is a timely graduate program for this institution and for the city. The relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in context of the 215 need to be addressed. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action need to be addressed. With our own environment—the wildfires and flooding—clearly this is going to raise a lot of justice issues. People are affected differently by flooding; if you’re wealthy, there’s one response; if you’re not, there’s another,” he said.

“It’s important for not only TRU but for the City of Kamloops because it provides an opportunity for all our citizens to engage at much higher level of understanding to make our city the best it can be. We imagine some of our students working with city council on some issues, such as drug problems, to understand paths forward.”

Michele Young, manager, communications content
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