North

Aurora College releases strategic plan to begin transition to polytechnic university

Aurora College plans to incorporate Indigenous, traditional and local knowledge into its teaching and research as it transforms into a polytechnic university.

3-year plan lays out blueprint for transformation from 2020-23

The 3-year Aurora College strategic plan calls for significant work to meet the learning needs of Northern residents. (Walter Strong/CBC)

Aurora College plans to incorporate Indigenous, traditional and local knowledge into its teaching and research as it transforms into a polytechnic university.

The pledge comes in a broad-stroke, three-year strategic plan released Tuesday, the first of three plans that will guide the institution in the years to come.

"Transformation of Aurora College is being done through ongoing and meaningful engagement and careful planning," reads a statement from Aurora College president Andy Bevan, announcing the plans.

"A successful transformation to the polytechnic university is even more important as the N.W.T. looks for economic growth and recovery opportunities," he said.

The plan was developed in part by the college, its students, Indigenous and community leaders, businesses, and members of the public, among other stakeholders.

It looks to create "strategic, operational and cultural changes within Aurora College that make it more reflective of the people and communities it serves."

"More Northerners will be able to develop the skills needed for the Northern jobs of the future, and will be able to do so in the N.W.T. We are committed to doing this work to advance the process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership," reads the document.

That includes working with JK-12 education bodies to strengthen student pathways to post-secondary education. The territory posts woeful graduation and attendance rates.

4 strategic pillars

The initial strategic plan lists four strategic pillars for the next three years: academic and research excellence, organizational effectiveness, becoming "learning centred" by being open and demonstrating respect for the land, tradition, community and people, and fostering connections with the government of the Northwest Territories, Indigenous governments, communities, industry, non-governmental organizations and other academic institutions.

"We recognize that the majority of Aurora College students are Indigenous and we remain committed to creating a culturally meaningful environment where Indigenous students can grow and succeed," it reads.

It promises "significant work" will be done to adapt best practices to suit the learning needs of Northern residents, which includes responding to "multiple ways of being, knowing and doing in teaching and research" and ensuring assessment and evaluation techniques "to allow learners to demonstrate what they know and what they have learned in a variety of ways."

The plan also says that details of the work will be posted online as part of monthly and quarterly updates, and public engagement will be ongoing throughout the process.

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