KPU Cancels Amazon Interdisciplinary Field School Due to Pandemic

The Canada by Design Field School and the Berlin-Prague Design Field School will continue in a limited capacity

(Flickr/ Kwantlen Polytechnic University)

A KPU field school program that would have taken students to the Amazon Rainforest has been cancelled due to the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The school was supposed to take place for the sixth time this year, and the classroom sessions and pre-departure orientations happened during the spring semester as usual, and students planned to reach Colombia on May 1.

Now that it’s cancelled, all students who were supposed to go have received a full refund.

“It’s actually better for the students, because this way they can get a full refund on their fee that they paid. Also, they get their tuition back. If we decided to just postpone and keep it open and the students couldn’t get their tuition back, “says Lucie Gagné, Field School Faculty Leader.

“I think in a way it’s better to close it now, and then we can look forward to seeing what the next offering is.”

Students can still hope to participate in the Amazon Field School in the future in either 2021 or 2022. Current participants might have priority registration, but the faculty members will open the course to all students, including alumni.

“This is an amazing program for KPU. I think it’s an amazing partnership that we have, and the work of our partners, Calanoa, that they’re doing in the Amazon and the relationship that they have with the Indigenous community, it’s quite special,” says Gagné.

The Calanoa Amazonas is the organization which provides lodging and workshops for participants in the field school.

“I think it’s important that everyone you know at KPU … work together to make sure that this program continues. Even though this was a difficult decision this year, I think the students are really understanding that under the circumstances, they know what’s happening globally.”

The other two field schools at KPU — the Canada by Design Field School and the Berlin- Prague Design Field School — have not been cancelled because interior design students need to complete them in order to get their degree.

“We’re actually looking at Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D. We’re looking at options because we don’t know what will happen and the first option would be to offer in January what we didn’t do this year, which is going to Berlin and Prague,” says Gagné.

If international travel is impossible, she says they may take students to somewhere in Eastern Canada like Montreal or Quebec. If that’s not possible, they’ll consider holding the next field school in the lower mainland.

Gagné says she hopes KPU keeps offering field schools regardless.

“The real value of the field school, in my opinion, is the cohort having the experience of learning with your peers and having this experience being faculty-led,” she says. “I think those are really important components of a field school.”