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Nov 28, 2002

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SFU to revamp curriculum
Vancouver Sun, Nov. 25

Simon Fraser University is revamping its curriculum in a bold attempt to address concerns related to graduates' writing skills, competency with numbers or breadth of knowledge that are needed in the workplace. While a number of Canadian universities have concerns about the writing abilities of their graduates, Simon Fraser is the first to approve a plan for university-wide requirements to address all three areas. “Employers and the general public tell us that they expect students to be able to communicate well when they graduate from universities and that seems to us to be a realistic expectation,” says John Waterhouse, SFU VP-academic. The university is in the midst of incorporating writing and quantitative studies into other specialty courses and will also revamp graduation requirements to ensure all students take courses in humanities, sciences and applied sciences.

Vancouver voters veer to the left
Toronto Star, Nov. 18

With a stunning landslide election victory by ex-Mountie and former city coroner Larry Campbell and his left-leaning municipal party, Vancouver residents are in for a wild ride, from safe injection sites for drug addicts to a referendum on a Winter Olympic bid. “It's almost revolutionary,” says SFU political scientist Patrick Smith. Campbell and his Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) ended the reign of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA). The results are viewed as a strong message of displeasure for the cost-cutting Liberal government. “This is Gordon Campbell's city, literally,” says Smith. “The message to his provincial government is that, after going as hard as they have been and a lot of the cuts haven't really started to bite, they will have to make some adjustments.”

Kyoto costly but not disastrous
Edmonton Journal, Nov. 16

SFU energy expert Mark Jaccard, an associate professor in SFU's school of resource and environmental management, told economists and industry representatives on both sides of the Kyoto issue that the costs to Canada under Kyoto will be higher than to any other country in the world. Canada, which has a target of a six per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, would be justified in taking the Australian model of an eight per cent increase in emissions, instead, he said. While Premier Ralph Klein is wrong on several points about the Kyoto deal, he adds the premier is right when he says the federal government was ill-prepared and unrealistic in its targets. “Chretien is wrong when he says emissions can be easily and cheaply reduced,” says Jaccard.

Opening doors for independents
Vancouver Courier, Nov. 16

The 11 independent candidates running for the seat of mayor of Vancouver are enthusiastic and full of ideas, but historically, their chances are slim, due mostly to the city's at-large electoral system. The only independent to hold office in recent civic history was Carole Taylor, now head of CBC. Kennedy Stewart, assistant professor in urban studies at SFU, says independents face huge challenges as a result of the city's at-large electoral system. That system means candidates represent the whole city, making campaigning costly. “If Vancouver was divided into 10 wards, each ward would have 30,000 registered voters, so an independent would only have to get information to those voters,” said Stewart.

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