Capilano University to launch Cap Core beginning Fall 2018

New program will revamp the school’s approach to students’ electives


Capilano University will restructure how its degree programs approach their students’ electives starting this fall with a new program called Cap Core. This new initiative will bring more organization and focus to the elective setup for all students entering degree programs.

“We really wanted to put together a program of courses that were more intentionally designed and selected, and made available to students so that they would be able to see the connection between the courses they were taking for their major or main study and the courses they were taking as electives,” said dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and one of Cap Core’s primary designers, Julia Denholm.

Cap Core consists of 30 credits spread out over four years, with half of the credits going to classes outside of a student’s program of study. The new program is split into three sections: Foundation, Integration and Professional Practice.

Foundation will make up six credits and include one numeracy class and one literacy class. These courses cover anything from a basic 100-level English class to an upper level math class depending on the student’s interests and capabilities. Integration, which at 18 credits makes up over half of the program, consists of classes related to self and society, science and technology and culture and creative expression – requiring students to take at least three credits in each section. Lastly, Professional Practice consists of an experiential component and a Capstone project.

Denholm noted that CapU currently has a “traditional Canadian approach to electives,” but with Cap Core the school is shifting towards an American-style system. CapU was the first Canadian university to be accredited by the North West Commission of Colleges and
Universities, which is the US Department of Education considers an authority on the quality and effectiveness of higher education in the Northwestern United States.

Cap Core aims to increase the opportunity students have to broaden their academic horizons through elective courses and turn them into classes that both fit into student’s programs while  introducing them to new and exciting topics.

“It’s a framework for students to choose their elective courses in a meaningful way, so that whatever electives you choose they fit together somehow and you can work forward having a common goal for those courses,” said Derek Murray, an instructor in CapU’s History Department who also helped design Cap Core.

The designers will continue to develop Cap Core even after it is implemented in the fall. Denholm admitted that while she’s very excited to see the new system in practice, the designers made compromises. Originally, they hoped to see interdisciplinary courses taught by teams of instructors, but these ideas couldn’t be realized immediately.

“What we have at the moment is something that’s a little bit different. We still have something that looks, for now, quite a lot like the American general education model,” she said.

Denholm and the rest of the Cap Core team are currently in the process of bringing courses into the program and preparing for its launch in the Fall semester of 2018. “We’re just putting courses through the approval process, so it’s going to look like there’s not a lot to choose from, but there will be, it’s coming,” she said. Denholm believes that the current Cap Core program will act as a foundation for future growth that will hopefully one day achieve the grander vision she and her team share.

“The other thing that we’re really hoping is going to happen is that some of our specialty programs where the classes are restricted to only students in the program might look and say, ‘you know what, we’re going to put on a general course in our area that will be open to all students to take.’ How cool would that be?”

For more information on Cap Core visit

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