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Administration plans research-focused course

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University of Calgary administration are in the early stages of creating an undergraduate course that would incorporate undergraduate students into the university’s research.

During last week’s Board of Governors meeting, vice-president research Ed McCauley and provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall presented initial plans for the College for Creativity, Discovery and Innovation. The CCDI will pose “grand challenges” to groups of undergraduate students at the beginning of the year and have them work towards solutions to these problems. The groups will be mixed with students from different faculties.

One hurdle the CCDI faces is determining the kinds of problems students will be asked to tackle. McCauley intends to have a committee of scholars from the university put together well-posed problems.

“We don’t simply want to let students loose on vacuous problems that are really unsolvable. We want to set them up for success,” McCauley said.

The course will also provide continual mentorship from faculty, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students.

According to Marshall, the CCDI is considered a signature piece of the university’s initiative to become a world-class research institution.

“[The CCDI] will form a major piece of the change that we might see in the pedagogy,” Marshall said. “It’s something we’re really excited about. There is lots of work still to do for sure, but it will be something I think the University of Calgary will become known for.”

The CCDI was piloted on a small scale during the 2012–13 academic year. The current goal is to offer the CCDI to senior undergraduates by 2015–16.

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