Adler University educates Vancouver's agents of social change

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      (This article is sponsored by .)

      Adler University can legitimately state that it’s out to change the world for the better. That’s because it has a practicum program in social justice embedded in all of its postgraduate degrees. And it’s no newcomer to Vancouver’s postsecondary space, having had a presence in the area since 1978.

      The university is also growing, with an anticipated enrollment of more than 500 students this fall term, which also speaks to its presence in the community.

      The school is named after Austrian medical doctor and psychotherapist Alfred Adler, an early proponent of building strong communities to enhance mental health. Adler University faculty take this very seriously, and it’s not only reflected in their own efforts to enhance the community: all students must spend 200 hours partnering with an organization to advance social justice, and this work begins during their first term.

      This provides authentic experience in addressing real-world issues in the community. More than 200 organizations are working with Adler University on these social-justice practicums—a sign of how respected this institution has become in Vancouver.

      At Adler University, the focus is on socially responsible practice, whether a student is enrolled in any of its programs. At the master’s level, Adler University has degrees in I/O Psychology, Public Policy and Administration, Counselling: Art Therapy, Counselling Psychology—which also offers a concentration in School and Youth—and a new upcoming degree in Applied Psychology. Additionally, Adler University offers B.C.’s only doctoral program at a private university through its Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology.

      Justin Goodrich, a former chair of a B.C. public university board, admitted in an article on the that he used to have a “less than favourable” opinion of private universities. That was before he joined Adler’s Department of Public Policy and Administration, where he came to appreciate the quality of the institution.

      First off, Goodrich was impressed that the chair of the board was Joy MacPhail, a former B.C. minister of finance and health. MacPhail had also been deputy premier and leader of the opposition and is the current chair of ICBC’s board. She’s respected across the political spectrum in B.C.

      “The next thing that struck me is that even though Adler is a private university, it still has to meet the academic rigour as required by the Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB) under the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education,” Goodrich noted. “In other words, the quality of education provided by Adler must meet the same standards as that of a public university.”

      In addition to its top-notch faculty, some of whom served in senior capacities in government, Adler University has an annual Community Action Day. That’s when students and faculty volunteer for a worthy cause. In 2019, they all participated in . This year, the focus was on the relationship between memory, place, and social justice in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

      In effect, Adler trains social-change agents who understand how to bring about improvements by connecting theory with practice. Capstone projects, thesis opportunities, and dissertations offer students chance to delve more deeply into an issue. It’s all done with an emphasis on five guiding values: social interest, pluralism, courage, excellence, and pragmatism.

      It’s fair to say that Adler is offering education for the mind and heart to enhance community well-being. Think of it as Vancouver’s socially responsible university.