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Education

Questions people ask about RDC

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by Joel Ward, President, RDC

In my role at Red Deer College, I have the opportunity to connect with people from across central Alberta. Whether this is at events hosted by RDC or at other activities in the community, I always enjoy speaking with students, alumni, parents, partners and interested citizens. A great many people are connected with RDC, and what I’ve found through my conversations is that they truly care about what’s happening here.

Over the years, people have asked me a variety of questions about our College, and today I’m happy to provide you with a sample of the commonly asked questions and my thoughts on each.

How many students attend RDC, and where are they from?

On any given day, we have about 7,500 students on our campuses. When I look back at our information from 2016-17, I see that 65% of our students came from central Alberta, with 15% from northern Alberta, 13% from the southern part and 7% coming from outside of our province. These students come from across Canada and from 16 countries around the world.

What is all the construction about?

We are fortunate to be in a time of growth and development at Red Deer College, and each new facility taking shape across main campus is the result of many years of careful and strategic planning. It’s hard to believe the preliminary site work for the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre/Centre des Jeux du Canada Gary W. Harris began back in the fall of 2015. Each day, we are moving closer to its completion and, in September 2018, we will welcome our first group of students to this teaching and learning centre. Not long after, the building will be a huge part of the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Our second construction project, the Alternative Energy Lab, demonstrates our commitment to the exploration and demonstration of new environmental technologies. The lab will provide learning and research opportunities for students and businesses to explore alternative energy solutions. Our third project, a new Residence, is under construction and is visible from 32nd Street. This unique facility incorporates solar panels on three sides and includes apartment-style studio suites, access for those with mobility challenges and short-term accommodation for our Apprenticeship students. All three new buildings support RDC’s goal of reducing our carbon footprint through energy efficient technologies.

What can I take at RDC?

We offer more than 100 programs, and these include everything from collaborative degrees, where students can take all of their courses at RDC, to university transfer programs, where they take their first year or two at RDC and complete at another institution. We also offer skilled trades, diplomas and certificates. This fall, we launched two new programs – the Human Resources Management Graduate Certificate and the Instrumentation Engineering Technology Diploma.

What new programs are on the horizon?

Looking ahead, our senior administrators and faculty are always looking for ways to develop new programs that will offer students the real-world information they need for today’s jobs. One example of this is happening right now in the School of Creative Arts, with two proposed cutting-edge programs – the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Film, Theatre, and Live Entertainment, and the Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation and Visual Effects. Once we have approval from the government, we intend to launch these programs in the fall of 2018, offering students one-of-a-kind opportunities in the ever-growing film and special effects industries.

When will we be able to complete our degrees at RDC?

We continue to work with our government partners to achieve our goal of RDC becoming a degree- granting institution. If people didn’t have to leave to complete their degrees, as I described above,

Red Deer College | 100 College Boulevard | Box 5005 | Red Deer | AB | Canada | T4N 5H5 | www.rdc.ab.ca

then it would have a huge, positive impact on students, families and even the economy of central Alberta. We will continue to strive to make this goal a reality for our future students.

These questions provide a snapshot of what’s happening here at RDC, and they show how we are always growing and evolving to better serve you, our students and partners and communities. As we continue to grow, I look forward to sharing this information with you – in this column and when we meet in the community.

Joel Ward is President & CEO of Red Deer College

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National

Canadians help use DNA to unlock secrets of Europe’s first farmers

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Canadian scientists are part of an international team that has used the genetics from bodies thousands of years old to reveal the secrets of how agriculture first came to Europe.

“This was the source from where most of the farming spread to western Europe and northern Europe,” said Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal.

Labuda is one of the co-authors of a paper published Wednesday in Nature about using new analytical tools to peer into the genetic makeup of 225 people from the ancient past in what is now southeastern Europe. The human remains were anywhere from 2,500 to 14,000 years old.

Previously, scientists had to rely on artifacts such as tools or pottery shards found with bodies to guess at ancient movements of people. It wasn’t the most reliable method, said Bence Viola of the University of Toronto, another co-author.

“You can learn how to make a certain kind of pot from your neighbour,” he said. “Culture can spread independently from biology.”

Current DNA techniques allow scientists to directly ask those ancient people from where they came.

Previous studies have shown that by 5,600 BC, farming was practised in Europe as far north as what is now Spain. But was it because the people who had always lived there learned something new? Or was it immigration?

“For the last hundred years, there’s been this discussion, is this simply the spread of technology or is it actual migration of people?” said Viola. “It looks as if … clearly there’s new people coming in.”

The scientists, led by Iain Mathieson at Harvard Medical School, found the 225 bodies they examined from the Balkan region were closely linked genetically to people from what is now central Turkey — an ancient culture highly correlated with farming. They concluded that’s where Europe’s first farmers came from.

They migrated into a continent that had been populated long before by a culture sustained by hunting and gathering. The two cultures lived apart, said Viola.

“It looks as if these two groups don’t mix, kind of like parallel societies, who then start mixing. One of the interesting things is that in some regions, it’s sex-biased — hunter-gatherer males who mated with farmer females.

“Can it be that some of these contacts were not necessarily peaceful?”

Those early farmers established Europe’s first complex societies, with significant wealth inequality. One individual from that era was buried with more gold than is known from all other similarly aged burial sites combined.

The farmers, however, were not the last immigrants. By about 2,000 BC, a wave of mounted herdsmen swept in from the Eurasian steppes and adopted agricultural techniques.

That marks another shift in Europe.

“It’s the first time we see things like ruling families, the use of metal, a much more stratified society with more specialization,” said Viola. “Burial customs completely change all over Europe.”

The next step, he said, is to link the genetic data with linguistic studies that trace the movement of languages.

“If we could show that the steppe migration is what brought Indo-European languages to Europe, that would be pretty cool. We’re really at the beginning of this.”

It’s a tangled web, with influences running in every direction, said Labuda.

“All this is much more complicated than we thought. (This research) provides us with a tissue of how these three contributions mixed up.”

 

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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N.S. teachers union gets strong strike mandate, but says no immediate action

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s public school teachers have given their union a strong mandate to authorize an “illegal job action” over pending education reforms, the head of the province’s teachers union said Wednesday.

Liette Doucet said 93 per cent of the union’s membership participated in a vote Tuesday, and 82.5 per cent voted in favour of authorizing an illegal strike or some other job action.

No job action is imminent, however, she said.

“The teachers of Nova Scotia sent a very powerful message and provided us with a very strong strike mandate,” Doucet told reporters gathered outside the union’s headquarters in Halifax.

“They are so concerned for their students and the future of education in this province that they are willing to accept hardship in hopes that it will demonstrate to the government that the way forward is through meaningful consultation.”

Doucet said the union wants Premier Stephen McNeil and Education Minister Zach Churchill to hold talks with teachers on proposed education reforms before passing any legislation.

“Today, instead of announcing when job action will take place, the NSTU is inviting government to work with us,” Doucet said. “We are willing to do whatever it takes to protect the future of public education in Nova Scotia.”

Doucet said if the union decides to take some kind of job action it will give parents enough notice to make alternate arrangements for their children, but she didn’t say how much time that would be.

She also wouldn’t specify what kind of action the union’s executive is contemplating, although she said some options could include a strike, a rotating strike or work-to-rule.

“All I am prepared to say is we are willing to talk to the government . . . and right now what we are asking is that they put a halt to what they are doing and that they come back and have those discussions.”

Churchill has questioned the union’s decision to seek an illegal strike mandate, saying job action is not in the best interests of students.

The union called the strike vote last week to protest the province’s decision to largely endorse a consultant’s report recommending education reforms, including the removal of 1,000 principals, vice-principals and supervisors from the union.

The report by consultant Avis Glaze makes 22 recommendations, including eliminating the province’s seven English-language school boards and creating a provincial college of educators to license and regulate the profession.

The extensive reforms come a year after teachers walked off the job for a day and staged a protest outside the provincial legislature.

The Liberal government eventually passed legislation ending a 16-month contract dispute with teachers, which also ended a work-to-rule job action.

Illegal strike activities could lead to specific fines of up to $300 per day for the union and up to $200 per day for a union officer or representative. 

However, if an illegal strike activity continues despite a labour board decision ordering employees to return to work, the penalty is up to $10,000 a day for the union and up to $1,000 a day for each teacher or individual.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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