New Immigration Studies Programs Coming to Concordia

Interdisciplinary Minor and Certificate Program Proposals to Go to Senate

  • If approved, the new Immigration Studies programs would be offered by the School of Community and Public Affairs. Archive Image Michael Wrobel

An Immigration Studies minor and certificate is in the works, after proposals for the programs were adopted unanimously by the Arts and Science Faculty Council last Friday.

The minor and certificate, if approved by Concordia University’s Senate, will be offered by Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs, ideally accepting students as of next Fall.

Dr. Chedly Belkhodja, the principal of the SCPA, said he first envisioned the programs when he joined Concordia four years ago, because of his background in immigration research. He said he’s been actively working on developing the curriculum for the last two years, collaborating with colleagues in other departments and bouncing ideas off current students.

While the two proposed programs are very similar, Belkhodja explained that the difference between the two is that the minor is open to all undergraduate students who wish to take the program in conjunction with their major.

The certificate, which requires students to take two additional classes, is open to anyone, such as professionals who wish to gain more knowledge and experience in the field.

Belkhodja explained that an interdisciplinary approach is integral to the proposed programs. When they launch, he said students will be expected to take courses from a variety of disciplines.

That is in part due to the fact that only three courses—equivalent to nine of the 24 or 30 credits needed to fulfill the degree requirements—will be added to SCPA’s course calendar.

The three include an introductory course on immigration and global issues, a course focused on immigration in Canada and Quebec, and one on settlement and integration, said Belkhodja. An additional practical, field work course will also be added for students in the certificate program.

Additionally, he explained, “immigration is a multi-faceted dynamic,” that is heavily tied to economics, sociology, anthropology, and policy studies. He said students accepted into the programs would be able to take select courses from the history, religion, Irish studies, geography, and political science departments to complete the degrees.

He also offered that in the future, they could go so far as to incorporate literature and film studies into the mix.

“I want to look at immigration from as many perspectives as possible,” Belkhodja said. “I think it gives us a better picture of what immigration is.”

He stressed that while there is a “strong possibility” of the programs becoming reality very soon, the final decision is in the hands of the Senate, Concordia’s highest academic decision making body. The next Senate meeting is this Friday, Sept. 15, but the approval of the Immigration Studies minor and certificate is not on the agenda, allow it could be added.

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