This week 18 emerging climate action leaders kicked off the new Master of Arts in Climate Action Leadership (MACAL) at Royal Roads University. This inaugural cohort of early adopters will join a growing community of change-makers and innovators working to create an adaptive, low carbon, and resilient future.

Not only are we celebrating the launch of the program this week, but we are also celebrating the degree approval for both the Master of Arts and the corresponding Graduate Diploma program by the Degree Quality Assessment Board of BC.

It is an exciting week for this ground-breaking program which is the first of its kind in Canada. What sets the MACAL program apart? Check out five features of this program that make it different. 

1. Cohort Learning with an Innovative Structure

The Climate Action Leadership program engages students as a cohort to maximize the benefits shared, social learning. While students move through the entire program as a cohort, taking courses together and learning from instructors, guest speakers and each other, the program also a one-of-a-kind, flexible structure that allows them to design the learning journey that best fits with their needs and interests to provide impact in the sector in which they work or aspire to work. During the second year of the program, students can choose between two streams. Students wanting a more traditional, scholarly approach can choose the research stream, completing a research-based thesis. Students wanting a more hands-on approach can choose the practitioner stream which allows them to customize their learning through a unique, student designed combination of formal and informal learning opportunities and alternative forms of credit that allow them to take a deeper dive into areas of relevance to their own career and learning goals.  

2. Portfolio Learning & Laddering

The MACAL program uses a portfolio approach as part of the reflective learning practice that is woven throughout the program and made explicit in student blogs, and as a way for students to develop their professional identity in the climate action field and demonstrate competency-related achievements. For students opting for the Practitioner-stream in the second year, portfolios will also include nine-credits of a unique-to-students combination of both previously acquired relevant learning and experience, new courses (electives), a 6-credit internship course, experiential learning options, and professional development and training options. This part of the program also provides a range of laddering opportunities into the degree program. Previous learning is acknowledged and valued as part of this program.

3. Delivery Format

This program optimizes the blended learning structure offered at Royal Roads University. The blended structure incorporates online learning with learning intensives with your cohort. This structure allows students to get to know their cohort and exchange ideas, and work from wherever they are in the world!

4. Open-Education Approach

MACAL is a program designed to be ‘Open.’ This openness is focused on engaging with students as creators of information rather than simply consumers of it. Student work is developed in “open platforms” (e.g. WordPress) and is openly licensed so student work can live outside the course or the classroom in ways that can help drive impact. Openness also means bringing in expertise from beyond the course and the program, leveraging the knowledge and experience of practitioners working in the field of climate action. 

5. The Climate Adaptation Competency Framework (CACF)

MACAL is a competency driven learning experience with learning outcomes linked to the Climate Adaptation Competency Framework (CACF)and acknowledge 21st century employment skills. The CACF was developed as part of the Adaptation Learning Network project to help identify what skills and knowledge are required to develop capacity and prepare professionals for their role in climate action. The CACF provides a defined set of competencies to ensure that individuals and teams understand and can develop the wide range of expertise and abilities that inform climate adaptation job functions. Courses within the MACAL program are designed to align with climate adaptation competencies as part of this momentum to build a workforce able to take on the challenges of climate change. 

We are so excited about this program and the impact that students from this program will make as they design and lead actions to address the complex and pressing challenges climate change presents across all aspects of society. Our hope for this inaugural cohort and all the subsequent cohorts of the MACAL program is that these students will help move communities, businesses, governments, and citizens from fear and apathy to resilience and hope. We believe that their learning journey will help prepare them as change-makers, and that their contributions will trigger the kind of exponential action we need to create a sustainable, resilient, just and equitable future.

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