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One semester into Massey University’s restructure of their Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree the university has found feedback to be “overwhelmingly positive.”
The restructure saw the introduction of an “intellectual kete” of five core papers, aiming to emphasise the social importance of the BA.
These include the skill-specific “Tū Kupu: Writing and Inquiry” and “Tū Arohae: Critical Thinking”, as well as three papers that explore global citizenship and cultural diversity, providing graduates a footing from which to examine New Zealand’s heritage.
Of the latter, “Tūrangawaewae: Identity and Belonging in Aotearoa New Zealand” was completed by hundreds of Massey students for the first time this year. The paper, according to Professor Richard Shaw—director of Massey’s BA program and spearhead of the restructure, explores the “diverse personal and collective identities of New Zealand’s past and present, as well as myths and assumptions about who we are as a nation.”
The leaders of the Bastion Point occupation are placed alongside rugby players in an unpacking of New Zealand’s cultural narrative, and to complement the learned tūrangawaewae Massey has introduced spaces on its Palmerston North and Manawatu campuses for BA students to socialise and study.
The changes to the BA are intended to bring the degree into the 21st century and to provide students with knowledge and skills that translate to a dynamic and increasingly diverse work environment. Richard Shaw argues that a BA “is more relevant today than ever.”
The success of the restructure comes at a time when Victoria has begun to explore papers and majors that include more civic values, and a proposal for a wider range of majors was included in Victoria Provost Wendy Larner’s report to the Academic Board on her first 100 days in office.
The possible majors were described as a way for Victoria to “brand” its undergraduate curriculum as “offering embedded experiential learning,” possibly under the title of “Victoria Values.”
When asked whether or not Massey’s success would speed up the process of having such papers introduced at Victoria, Larner told Salient that “the BA programme is integral to Victoria’s strategic vision of being a world-leading capital city university, and one of the great global-civic universities.”
“In order to build on our pre-eminent reputation and further enhance the distinctiveness of the BA programme, we are developing stronger international and interdisciplinary relationships, and we also plan to scale up our student civic engagement and employability activities.”