City council has approved a “Surrey City Lab” that’s set to open this September.
The “learning lab” project is a three-year partnership with KPU and SFU, and was unanimously approved by council Monday night.
According to a release, it will “deliver a program that will engage the region’s post-secondary students in real world issues affecting Surrey, offer civic related courses that contain City of Surrey priorities, and expand interdisciplinary and integrated opportunities for KPU and SFU students to learn and work together.”
A city report notes the three-year pilot will “offer SFU and KPU courses beginning in year 1 with current individual courses, and work over three years to build interdisciplinary options that integrate KPU and SFU students.
“The partners will work with current courses and with KPU and SFU faculty willing to engage their students and curriculum with city issues and challenges,” it adds.
Courses will be offered in their existing spaces, with some opportunity to host classes in city spaces such as City Hall and the City Centre Library. After year one of the project, dedicated space will be sought for the lab, which would be a city owned and operated building in City Centre.
The city says the Surrey lab joins a small, but growing, global network of “pioneering” cities adopting university partnerships to advance civic strategic priorities.
“The program will allow for co-created projects between students and city staff and will include direct curriculum connections to City of Surrey priorities and challenges,” a release notes. “Both partnerships will focus on interdisciplinary and experiential projects that benefit the community.”
For a three-year pilot, the city has committed to a contribution $138,000, which will be matched by KPU and SFU for a total of $414,000.
That would pay for a co-ordinator salary, events, material costs such as office expenses, and City Studio network fees.
According to a city report, the co-ordinator will be a “high level strategic thinker, and support City of Surrey staff and advisory committees in developing research questions, policy challenges, and project ideas for students.”
Mayor Linda Hepner said the lab is “another example of the innovative partnerships the city has forged with our higher education institutions.”
“This made in Surrey project is a unique opportunity that will allow for a student experiential learning initiative focused on City of Surrey priorities and challenges,” she added.
Dr. Salvador Ferreras, provost and vice president academic at KPU, said the university is “committed to transforming lives and empowering positive change.”
“As Canada’s only polytechnic university, KPU’s programs link thought to action,” he added. “Surrey City Lab will challenge our future leaders to provide positive solutions to real-time community issues. We are delighted that our students will have access to an even more enriched experiential learning opportunity through the transformative work of Surrey City Lab.”
SFU Surrey’s Executive Director Steve Dooley said his university is also committed to engaged with communities, and “providing students with real world learning opportunities.”
“As a Surrey City Lab partner we look forward to building on these commitments and to contributing through them to help Surrey advance its priorities and tackle its most pressing issues,” said Dooley.
Beyond the three-year pilot, the partners intend to look for external funding such as from foundations and other levels of government.