CALGARY – In addition to a full schedule of fourth year business studies at the University of Calgary, Gurbir Parmar is enrolled in another, more personal class – the Sikh degree.
“There’s a lot of history that I didn’t know myself,” said Parmar. “The greatest thing is A, if you only look at Sikhism from an academic perspective … not just from that religious perspective.”
Parmar says there is a large South Asian community at the post-secondary facility. But she is happy that students from different backgrounds are taking the course to learn more about Sikhism.
“We’re a community that has contributed a lot to Canadian society and I think it’s a great way to create our own narrative about who we are,” said Parmar.
The university plans to offer more courses in Sikh studies and is working with members of the Sikh community in Alberta.
“We are trying to expand Sikh studies beyond the religious study component to examine the history, culture, even literature, social and cultural aspects of Sikhism,” said Richard Sigurdson, dean of the faculty of arts at the University of C.
The pilot program would create a full-time apprenticeship position, expand the current range of courses, provide graduate graduate research opportunities, and facilitate community engagement.
Sigurdson said the goal is to attract students from different programs. He said the university is determined to connect with the community locally and globally.
“The University of Calgary is truly committed to pluralism, global citizenship, justice, diversity and inclusion. We want to expand the option for our students who don’t want to major in religious studies but have a special interest and want to learn more about these really important world traditions, ”said Sigurdson.
Session teacher Harjeet Grewal, who teaches Sikh studies at the University of C, said the expansion of the program is a long time coming.
“The University of Calgary is taking the lead in trying to increase representative diversity in the way it presents its courses and how that reflects the student body as well as the wider community,” said Grewal.
“We can learn something about the Sikh tradition, but also think about how Sikhs contribute to society and how the Sikh tradition can use our multicultural fabric in a more integrated and committed manner.”
Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world. Grewal said it was difficult to determine for sure, but there are estimates that 800,000 Sikhs live in Canada.
“When you look at the university landscape across the board, there aren’t many course offerings and there aren’t many places where a specific Sikh representative or focus exists within the framework of the university,” Grewal said.
The Faculty of Arts provides funding, but community support is also required to get the program started.
The fundraising goal is $ 250,000. Donations up to $ 2,500 made by April 22, Calgary Giving Day will be matched dollar for dollar, but funds will be limited.
The university plans to start Sikh studies in September 2022.