KPU instructor incorporates Metro Vancouver homeless count into curriculum

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Metro Vancouver: Several KPU students studying geography have the opportunity to apply their education outside of the classroom by volunteering for credit.

KPU instructor John Rose, chair of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s geography department, has incorporated the 2014 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count into his society and urban space class, allowing his students the opportunity to earn credit while enriching their education with hands-on experience.

“The opportunity to participate in the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count represents a tremendous applied learning and service opportunity for my students, particularly as the topics of housing affordability and homelessness are addressed in the course content,” explains Rose.

The class focuses on urban social geography, examining mobility and transportation, community and neighbourhood, production and consumption, and crime and public safety. Students review issues like residential segregation, mobility for the disabled and crime reduction, and analyze how social identity, social relations and built environment play into each topic.

Students volunteering with the homeless count, with proof of participation, will have their practical experience count in place of the conventional class assignment – a text and photo examination of community and neighbourhood space, worth 15 per cent of their course grade. On Thursday, they will have the opportunity to discuss their experience with Rose and their peers.

The homeless count has been conducted by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee once every three years since 2002. The 2014 count is scheduled for March 11 and 12, and aims to estimate the number of people who are homeless in the Metro Vancouver region. The data will serve to create a demographic profile of those who are homeless, and identify long-term trends.