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Academic Plan


The academic vision of Thompson Rivers University includes the recognition and celebration of the location of our main and regional campuses in the traditional territories of Indigenous people: the Kamloops campus is situated in Tk’emlups territory; the Williams Lake campus is situated in the T'exelcemc; the 100 Mile House regional centre is situated in Tsq'escenemc; the Ashcroft regional centre is situated in the Ashcroft First Nation, belonging to the Nlaka'pmx Nation; the Barriere and Clearwater regional centres are situated in Simpcw territory; and the Lillooet regional centre is situated in the St’át’imc Nation, which includes Bridge River (Nxwisten), Pavilion (Ts'kw'aylacw), Cayoose Creek (Sekw'el'was), Mt. Currie (Lil'wat), Seton Lake (Chalath), Lillooet (T'it'q'et), Fountain (Xáxl'ip), Anderson Lake (N'quatqua), Douglas (Xa'xtsa), Skatin and Samahquam. Thompson Rivers University recognizes the need to include learning opportunities for all Indigenous students, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis learners.

Table of Contents

Destination TRU 4
Academic Themes 5
Academic Foundations 7
Inquiry-based and Creative Learning 7
Interdisciplinary Studies 8
Aboriginal, Local, and Global Cultural Understanding 9
Flexible Learning Models 10
Life-long Learning 11
Consultation Process 12
References 14

Destination TRU

Thompson Rivers University boasts over 50 years of providing innovative and responsive post-secondary education with a range of educational experiences, including skills upgrading, vocational accreditation, academic undergraduate and graduate degrees, delivering programs on campus, on-line, or through a blending of these modalities in a manner unparalleled nationally and internationally. Our university community takes particular pride in providing access to non-traditional learners while maintaining a high standard of academic excellence. Additionally, our engaged and scholarly faculty prides itself on providing students at all levels with intellectually challenging environments. Academic excellence and social mobility are equally important values at TRU. Graduates of Thompson Rivers University’s programs reflect these strengths: whether pursuing graduate studies, training in professional schools, or entering the workplace, TRU alumni have a track record of success. The TRU Academic Plan lays the foundation for maintaining these strengths and guiding TRU’s future growth across all areas of the institution.

Over the next five to ten years, TRU will establish itself as a Destination Campus for local, regional, national and international students by providing a standard of educational excellence in the context of: attracting and supporting academically high achieving students; supporting the social mobility of our students; continuing to provide access for non-traditional students; providing access to learning for a wide variety of students, including mature/returning students, first-generation learners, and students at our regional centres; providing flexible and alternative learning models and opportunities; and fostering excellence in undergraduate and graduate education. The Academic Planning Process is critical to achieving these goals.

Approximately 14,000 students study on campus at TRU-Kamloops and TRU-Williams Lake, while another 10,000 students enroll annually in distance and online courses and programs. Another 1,100 take courses through TRU’s 5 regional centres in Ashcroft, Lillooet, 100 Mile House, Clearwater and Barriere. 45% of TRU students on campuses are between the ages of 19 and 24, while the average age of a TRU-OL learner is 30. On campus, the male/female student ratio is almost 50/50, while at TRU-Open Learning (TRU-OL), two-thirds of the students are female. TRU-OL survey data shows that 73% of OL students work either full or part time, and 29% report having children living at home. Aboriginal students make up 9.2% of the student population on our campuses, with 2,378 Aboriginal students registered. TRU has thousands of international students, some of the top countries of origin being: China, Saudi Arabia, India, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Nigeria, South Korea, Hong Kong and Germany. Also, there are currently more than 1,000 students enrolled in TRU programs delivered at partner institutions in China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

TRU Student Services recognizes the different needs of local, regional, international, intergenerational and intercultural learners. It is critical that student service providers at all TRU sites, on-line and on-site, are consistent in the level of service and quality of support provided to all TRU students. Student services include: recruitment and advising, the Registrar’s Office, Financial Aid and Awards, the Library, Counseling and Career Education, academic support services, services for students with disabilities, and engagement activities, such as leadership and peer mentoring. TRU Student Services engages in a wide array of activities and actively supports: intercultural understanding, health and wellness, leadership development, student orientation, and career planning support.

Academic Themes

In the development of existing and new academic programs and curriculum at Thompson Rivers University, priority will be given to the development of programs and curriculum in the context of the following four academic themes: science, technology, and applied skills in society; power, politics and social justice; health, well-being and leisure; and environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability, particularly to those developments that generate interdisciplinary connections between these themes.

Science, Technology, and Applied Skills in Society:

Thompson Rivers University has strengths in undergraduate and graduate research; interdisciplinary studies; and academic, applied, vocational and trades programming, and thus is well equipped to provide students with a critical education on the intersections of science, technology and society. A broad scientific perspective is needed to build knowledge and address complex issues in the 21st century; this depends on interdisciplinary methods and studies in the contexts of both physical and social sciences.

Future development should include:

  • Interdisciplinary pedagogies and programs in science, technology, and applied skills in society that span faculties and schools
  • Links between academic, applied and vocational programs in science, technology, and applied skills in society and sustainability and the environment, such as programs on watershed issues, sustainable energy, and transportation
  • New interdisciplinary and graduate degree options that link to social and community needs for knowledge and practice in the context of science, technology, and applied skills in society
Power, Politics and Social Justice:

As a university with a regional mandate coupled with a focus on internationalization, TRU is uniquely positioned to examine critically how power, politics and social justice issues impact communities and individuals in multiple ways and multiple jurisdictions. Development of this theme involves conceptions of citizenship based on mutually beneficial goals and community-based education on a variety of issues, including race, gender, persistent poverty, access to health care and education, and other public goods.

Future development should include:

  • Enhanced undergraduate and graduate programming exploring power, politics and social justice in Aboriginal, local, and global contexts
  • Interdisciplinary approaches, courses, programs and research exploring power, politics and social justice in Aboriginal, local, and global contexts
  • Enhanced local, national and international partnerships, including programs created with external partners in Aboriginal communities, industry, government, and NGOs
Health, Well-being, and Leisure:

Health within the university refers to physical health, emotional stability, and clear, creative and transformative thinking; well-being refers to students’ adaptation to personal, interpersonal, and other challenges at university; and leisure involves engagement in activities beyond the usual demands of an academic life that involves freedom of choice, self-discovery, and growth. The health, well-being, leisure, and cultural activities of students influence student learning, achievement and retention and enhance students’ resilience and confidence to influence their world. In the context of interdisciplinary and interprofessional approaches, programming that explores public health policy and practices, particularly programming reflecting community and population health needs, should be enhanced and developed.

Future development should include:

  • Recognition and promotion of the relationship between learning and health, well-being and leisure
  • Enhanced professional health programming, particularly reflecting community and population health needs
  • Enhanced intramural sport, recreation and wellness activities for Aboriginal students
  • New and enhanced academic programs in the context of health, well-being, leisure, tourism, creative and performing arts, and sport culture
  • Enhanced relationship with the City of Kamloops in the Tournament Capital context
Sustainability: Environmental, Economic, Social & Cultural

University operations and programs should be informed by the values of the four pillars of sustainability--environmental, economic, social & cultural--particularly in interdisciplinary contexts. The term culture is intended to encompass both shared social learning and creative learning, expressed through visual and performing arts, creative writing, new media, and other creative media.

Future development should include:

  • Enhanced and interdisciplinary programming in business, sciences, geography, tourism, trades, visual & performing arts, social sciences and economics on the theme of environmental, economic, social and cultural sustainability
  • Potential articulation of a credential which recognizes the accumulation of credits in the field of environmental, economic, social & cultural sustainability
  • Interdisciplinary approaches, courses, programs and research in environmental, economic, social & cultural sustainability

Academic Foundations

The development of the four academic themes in the Thompson Rivers University Academic Plan will be based on 5 academic foundations:

The identity of Thompson Rivers University as a Destination University will be developed through a coordinated approach to academic and personal student engagement in the social, cultural, creative and intellectual life of the university, through a wide array of program, delivery and service innovations and through structural change where the transformation of academic offerings requires it.

TRU students will engage in inquiry-based and creative learning

Graduates of Thompson Rivers University will face an increasingly complex and multidimensional world. Regardless of the discipline or fields of study students have chosen, the creative use of the knowledge and skills they have acquired will distinguish TRU’s students in the global workplace and society.

Developing a focus on creative problem solving will require that academic units be committed to building experiential, creative and collaborative learning into curricula at all levels and through all modes of delivery.

Existing inquiry-based and creative learning models should be enhanced, including:

  • Undergraduate research experiences in applied, creative and curiosity-driven projects (UREAP)
  • Increased offerings of service learning and directed studies courses
  • Active learning through participation in competitions, events, performances, shows and demonstrations
  • Faculty development in transformative teaching, group study and inquiry-based learning models
  • Increased Honours and Graduate-level research with disciplinary and interdisciplinary concentrations

Future development should include:

  • Increased faculty engagement in the scholarship of teaching and learning
  • First-year seminars integrating introductory academic content and academic skills development
  • Reviews and/or revision of curriculum offerings to increase the frequency of project and problem-based learning and case studies
  • Team-taught courses that cross traditional disciplinary lines and create classrooms of learners with diverse backgrounds
  • A dynamic Centre for Teaching and Learning that is at the leading edge of developing and assessing the effectiveness of new educational techniques and approaches
  • Clearly defined and measurable learning outcomes for all TRU courses across all delivery modes
  • Ongoing and systematic faculty development to support teaching excellence, particularly in the context of inquiry-based and creative learning
  • The application of principles of universal instructional design not only in formal classroom settings but also in co-curricular programming
  • Coordinated and systematic development of academic engagement strategies across all programs
TRU students will engage in interdisciplinary studies

A theme that emerged repeatedly throughout the academic planning consultation process was the need for well-articulated, university-wide interdisciplinary studies approaches and programs. As Joe Moran writes, interdisciplinarity is not “the simple juxtaposition of two or more disciplines”; rather, “interdisciplinarity is always transformative in some way.” A re-conceptualized institutional structure that enables the development and offering of interdisciplinary studies should be developed to support all TRU faculties and all TRU campuses in the “incubation” of innovative learning and teaching strategies, including: multiple and flexible delivery modes; non-traditional courses and programs; academic student and faculty engagement; and interdisciplinary methods and curriculum. Interdisciplinary Studies options should be re-conceptualized as university-wide, and thus mechanisms must be developed to accommodate interdisciplinary methods and programming across and between all university faculties and disciplines.

Existing Interdisciplinary Studies learning models should be enhanced, including:

  • The development of Associate and Baccalaureate Degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies to be offered jointly between Williams Lake, the Regional Centres and the Kamloops campus, particularly in the contexts of the 4 core Academic Themes identified in the Academic Plan
  • Further development of interdisciplinary offerings with domestic and international partners, particularly in the contexts of Aboriginal, local, and global student awareness and the 4 core Academic Themes identified in the Academic Plan

Future development should include:

  • The articulation of an university-wide Interdisciplinary Studies approach, and increased flexibility for students to combine credentials and programs
  • The articulation of an institutional structure that enables interdisciplinary programming across all programs and between credential levels, including the development of mechanisms that enable faculties to overcome institutional barriers to interdisciplinary programming
  • The development of a university-wide Interdisciplinary Studies Masters degree
  • Fully articulated Interdisciplinary programs for each of the 4 core Academic Themes identified in the Academic Plan
  • The development of fully articulated Interdisciplinary programs that blend trades, vocational, creative and academic learning
  • Experiential "tours" of different program areas for first-year students

...a Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies should be created to make possible a number of multi- and interdisciplinary learning opportunities... [It] would act as a collaborative structure for Deans and faculty from multiple Faculties and disciplines. ...The Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies would work to develop competencies in areas such as sustainability, global studies, and gender studies... We strongly believe these developments would provide TRU a flexible tool for providing unique learning opportunities that would make this a dynamic and sought after place to learn and teach. TRU Student Union submission

TRU students will engage in Aboriginal, local, and global cultural understanding

TRU recognizes and values the diversity of interests and plurality of cultures among its students and staff. Consequently, it seeks to create a safe, participatory environment in which the keystones are mutual trust, respect and integrity of relationships among those various interests and cultures. Educational and delivery models should incorporate intercultural experiences for all TRU students. The development of these learning modes is reflexive, inspiring students and faculty to integrate reflections on Aboriginal cultures and histories into their work, as well as local, national and international frames of reference. Focusing on culturally aware education, practice and scholarship enables the development of a just and inclusive university community.

Every TRU program should encourage the physical and virtual mobility of students and faculty and develop local, national and international partnerships, including options such as double degrees with international partners, direct link transfer of specified academic credits while abroad, and “inter-national” opportunities in the context of First Nations boundaries.

Existing Aboriginal, local and global learning contexts should be enhanced, including:

  • Increased integration of cultural awareness within curriculum and teaching
  • Increased opportunities for intercultural or international experiences for all students
  • Increased opportunities to study abroad, including field schools, student and faculty exchange programs, service learning project work, and research
  • Increased Aboriginal student participation in study abroad through cohort models, in the contexts of Aboriginal field schools, student and faculty exchange programs, service learning project work, and research, particularly in the context of international Aboriginal partnerships
  • Increased international student exposure to Aboriginal, local and regional cultural life and activities

Future development should include:

  • Programs and curriculum, including interdisciplinary studies, that make visible the history, traditions, and experience of underrepresented groups
  • Additional domestic and international degree options, such as dual-, joint-, and Masters degrees, with partner institutions
  • International “virtual or distance” projects and collaborations at the research, operational, and assessment stages, including distance study with other Open and Distance universities and other institutions offering multi-modal learning
  • Engagement of regional students with the Kamloops campus, including student functions and conferences held in Kamloops, Williams Lake and the Regional Centres
  • Language offerings as required to support new program initiatives emerging from the Academic Plan
TRU students will engage in flexible learning options

Given its mandate, TRU’s educational delivery system, including instructional delivery methods and vehicles across time and space, must support and advance the vision of a Destination University. This “Destination” may be distance or online, through TRU-OL, as well as a physical place to study. At the same time, “place-based” or regional studies complement a global perspective. An institution’s educational delivery system must align with the institution’s strategic plan, mission, educational philosophies, values, resource base, and research unit (Rowley & Sherman, 2004). TRU values equally community and global awareness; flexible learning options; and academic excellence.

Given TRU’s unique mix of expertise and organizational units, including highly developed distance delivery models, new technologies and education principles can guide TRU to embrace new instructional delivery systems and create innovative learning environments for students. Flexible learning options should be re-conceptualized as university-wide, and thus mechanisms must be developed to accommodate these options across and between all university faculties and disciplines in programs delivered on campus and through Open Learning.

Existing flexible learning options should be enhanced, including:

  • Double degrees with international partners across all faculties
  • Flexible instructional environments, including blended/hybrid delivery models, supported distance learning, service learning, field trips
  • Increased supervised/guided work-based experience, such as co-op terms, internships and practica
  • The enhancement of experiential learning models such as field studies, practica, co-ops, and internships

Future development should include:

  • Flexible Semester Models, allowing year-round education utilizing a variety of semester models operating concurrently. These models could include:
    • The existing model of 2 semesters with compressed summer terms
    • 3 regular semesters (trimesters), each including a reading break
    • The compression of regular semesters to enable a one-month “mini- mester” break between semesters, potentially allowing more opportunities for study abroad; career development; service learning; compressed delivery models, including lengthening the instructional day, adding weekend courses, and block delivery models
  • The implementation of three year undergraduate degrees, including degrees based on the principles of the Bologna Accord, facilitating the “portability” of education
  • Three years + one year honours undergraduate degrees
  • Team taught, interdisciplinary or mini-sampler courses
  • Thematic seminar courses
  • The development of blended learning models across all programs and faculties
TRU Students will engage in life-long learning

TRU students include mature, working and retired learners and other part-time learners, high school and younger students who attend summer camps, and children who attend TRU daycare. Many of these students may access multiple educational resources, including freely available web-based materials, and thus TRU will support the use of open educational resources and remain at the forefront in the use and acceptance of Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition. Additionally, TRU will support life-long learning by offering a wide array of credentialed and non-credentialed face-to-face, distance and blended learning options for all ages and varying interest levels.

Additionally, the models and operations of new continuing education offerings, summer camps, life-long learning and regional centre offerings should be re-conceptualized and potentially combined; an institutional structure that enables the development of life-long learning programming should be developed to support all TRU faculties and all TRU campuses in the “incubation” of innovative life-long learning and teaching strategies.

Existing life-long learning programs, while remaining in current units, should be enhanced, including:

  • Sustainable regional offerings
  • Enhanced seminar series, public lectures and colloquia across the university that engage campus, local and distance communities, including enhancement of the existing Cultural Events series
  • Further development of community & university educational and cultural conferences, potentially including a province- or nation-wide undergraduate research conference
  • TRU continued development of the use/acceptance of Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
  • Enhanced commitment to Service Learning within programs
  • Enhanced library accessibility for lifelong and non-traditional learners

Future development should include:

  • The articulation of a university-wide, life-long learning plan embedded in a university-wide, life-long learning model
  • The development of flexible delivery and blended delivery models for continuing education courses and programs
  • New summer institute programs and summer camps programs for each of the 4 core Academic Themes identified in the Academic Plan
  • New summer camps for older teens in all schools and faculties
  • Programs for students who are in their indecisive gap year, between high school and university, including student exchange and Study Abroad programs
  • New non-credit professional development offerings for working, retired, and underemployed students
  • Increased course offerings in evening and weekend time slots


Consultation is an essential part of university academic planning. The Academic Planning Steering Committee provided all TRU students, staff and faculty with the opportunity to complete an electronic survey, asking them to comment on: courses and programs, campus activities and campus life, buildings and facilities, services and support, and “anything else.” Community members in Kamloops, Williams Lake and the regional centres were also offered the opportunity to complete the survey. A total of 2,278 surveys were reviewed, along with 1451 NSSE results from the past 3 years. Additionally, a full array of Aboriginal consultation activities was undertaken separately. TRU schools and faculties created submissions through faculty councils, under the leadership of the Deans, and numerous presentations were made to the Steering Committee by stakeholder groups. The completion dates of these activities are indicated below.

Activity Leaders Date Done
Student Advisory Groups Peter Hilton, Chris Adam December 2010 X
Aboriginal Transitions to Post-Secondary
Day survey
Sukh Heer Matonovich, Chris Adam December 2010 X
TRU Student Survey IPA January 2011 X
TRU Staff /Admin Survey IPA January 2011 X
Community surveys (including regions) IPA Jan - Feb 2011 X
School districts survey
(Districts 27, 73 & 74)
IPA Jan - Feb 2011 X
Aboriginal consultation Nathan Matthew, Jack Miller
* separate consultation plan developed
Jan - Feb 2011 X
TRUSU presentation TRUSU Feb. 8, 2011 X
Library presentation Nancy Levesque Feb. 8, 2011 X
OL survey Cameron Beddome February 2011 X
Williams Lake meetings Ray Sanders February 2011 X
Student Leadership Focus Group Peter Hilton, Chris Adam February 2011 X
Review of NSSE Results IPA, Steering Committee March 2011 X
TRU Alumni survey IPA March 2011 X
OL presentation Val Peachey & Irwin DeVries March 8, 2011 X
TRU World presentation Wes Koczka April 12, 2011 X
Regional Centres presentation Jane Bryson & Robin Bercowski April 12, 2011 X
Athletics presentation Student athletes April 12, 2011 X
Research Committee presentation Nancy Van Wagoner May 10, 2011 X
Environmental Committee Presentation Peter Tsigaris & Tom Owen May 10, 2011 X
Summer School Committee presentation Sofia Reyes May 10, 2011 X
Faculty & School Plans Deans & Faculty Councils Winter 2011 X

Consultation in support of Aboriginal content in the TRU Academic Plan


To consult as widely as possible with Aboriginal Organizations, Aboriginal Communities within the TRU "catchment area", Aboriginal personnel on campus at Kamloops and Williams Lake, and Aboriginal students currently enrolled at TRU.


Consultations, in the form of focus groups or one-on-one interviews were conducted as follows:

  • with Aboriginal partners
    • Secwepemc Cultural Education Society (SCES)
    • Upper St’át’imc Language, Culture, and Education Society (USLCES)
    • Interior Indian Friendship Centre, Kamloops (IIFC)
    • Kamloops Métis Society
  • with Aboriginal Communities
    • Shuswap Nation Tribal Council (SNTC)
    • Lillooet Tribal Council (LTC)
    • Nlekpamux Nation Tribal Council (NNTC)
    • Nicola Tribal Council (NTA)
    • Chilcotin Tribal Council
  • with TRU Williams Lake campus
    • Campus Director
    • Aboriginal faculty and staff
    • Aboriginal students
  • Kamloops campus
    • Aboriginal faculty and staff
    • Aboriginal students
    • Elders on Campus
  • with others
    • NVIT

Consultations carried out between January 25 and February 28, 2011

Principal Contacts

Nathan Matthew
Joanne Brown
Jack Miller


Duhaney DC. (2004). Blended Learning in Education, Training, and Development. Performance Improvement, 43, 35–38.

Moran, Joe. Interdisciplinarity. 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge, 2010

Poslad, S. (2009) Ubiquitous Computing: Smart Devices, Environments and Interactions. Chichester, U.K.: John Wiley & Sons.

Rowley, D.J. & Sherman, H., (2004) Academic Planning: The Heart and Soul of the Academic Strategic Plan. Lanham, Maryland, U.S.: University Press of America.

Thompson Rivers University (2011) Deans’ Guiding Principles: A Destination University. Available online (last access June 12, 2011).

Thompson Rivers University (2010) TRU Academic Plan Principles. Available online (last access June 12, 2011).

Academic Planning Steering Committee

Students: Stefanie Gale, Marilyn Adolph
Faculty: Michael Gorman, Susan Duncan, Diane Purvey (OL), Ron Lakes (OL)
Staff: Joanne Brown, Heather Hamilton
Deans: Chris Adam, Tom Dickinson
TRU World: Lian Dumouchel
OL: Gordon Tarzwell, Brian Daly
Williams Lake & Regional Centres: Ray Sanders
Chair: Katherine Sutherland

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