HSCI 472 students with Lon LaClaire, ‎Manager, Strategic Transportation Planning at City of Vancouver

Health Sciences Undergraduates Reach out to Their Peers to Raise Awareness on the Transit Referendum

February 27, 2015
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Meghan Winters’ course on health and the built environment (HSCI 472) this semester is taking on a unique spin. She is collaborating with CityStudio on motivating students and their peers to think deeply about the upcoming Metro Vancouver transit plebiscite and to vote on it.

Metro Vancouverites are facing a transit referendum on whether a proposed half a percent sales tax increase should be implemented to fund transit improvements. In working with City Studio, a unique and innovative program that brings City of Vancouver staff, students and community stakeholders together to conceive of innovative and experimental city design solutions, Meghan is helping her students realize their power to engage citizens in improving Vancouver’s healthy livability.

“The students are encouraged to examine local links between health and the built environment within the context of the impending transit referendum,” Meghan explains. Through assignments, her students are also addressing the low level of youth engagement plaguing the upcoming transit referendum.

Students have to complete a blog post and a media project that aims to encourage youth participation in the referendum. Guest presenters from various community organizations also explore key concerns identified by citizens regarding the Metro Vancouver transit tax.

The hands-on approach of the course sets it apart from other classes that Ericka-Jade Mulherin, a fourth-year, health sciences major, has taken. “Other courses also make the case that the built environment is one of the ways in which we can maintain the quality of health for Metro Vancouver’s fast growing population. But this course differs in that we are encouraged to instigate the changes we want to see; changes that will advance public health,” notes Ericka.

“There is a lot of misconception around what the transit tax entails. My peers don’t fully understand how much it will cost them, or that plans to oversee how the revenue would be invested are being put in place. Our assignments have tasked us with the responsibility of communicating such information clearly so that people become engaged in this very important issue.”

Says Meghan: “These assignments and dialoguing opportunities will allow the students to develop different communication skills, apart from writing papers and midterms. They are learning how to make information more accessible and to create messages that mobilize the youth community. These are hugely beneficial skills that will help them transition beyond the university.”

Check out one of the student's blog post on the transit referendum here.

Not sure how to vote in the upcoming referendum? Visit here for more information.

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