An innovative new partnership was recently established between Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and Sun Peaks. The memorandum of understanding binds Sun Peaks Resort, Tourism Sun Peaks (TSP), and Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality with TRU in the Alliance for Mountain Environments.
TRU’s Faculty of Adventure, Culinary and Tourism (ACT) and the Faculties of Science and Arts will join the Sun Peaks entities to work toward building mutually supportive initiatives in the study areas that include ecosystems, cultures, and leisure, tourism, and wellness activities associated with mountain environments.
“Through the Alliance for Mountain Environments, we plan to conduct interdisciplinary academic and applied research, and provide education and training,” says Harold Richins, dean of ACT. “Our research activities will engage people and broaden access to mountain areas and promote an understanding of the social, cultural, environmental, and economic impacts of human activity in mountain areas.”
Christopher Nicolson, president of TSP, views the partnership as beneficial to all.
“Sun Peaks feels very fortunate to work closely with TRU. For many years, this relationship has meant things such as Sun Peaks hiring TRU graduates, and providing students with training opportunities,” he explains. “Recently new opportunities have developed such as cooperating on higher level research. Such integration can be a competitive advantage for Sun Peaks in the mountain resort industry.”
The new alliance is also expected to support TRU’s Academic Plan that seeks to establish the institution’s reputation for having graduates who are flexible and adaptable.
“The signing of the (memorandum of understanding) with Sun Peaks exemplifies what TRU is about,” states Ulrich Scheck, provost and vice-president academic for the university, “namely to build on that strength through programs and courses that generate interdisciplinary connections between academic themes. TRU will be known for being profoundly interdisciplinary.”
Kathleen Scherf, professor of communications at TRU, sparked the discussion between TRU and Sun Peaks to formalize these research and learning opportunities. As professor of a course on mountain culture and author of Sun Peaks: An Evolution of Dreams, she sees many long-term benefits of this new relationship between the mountain and university.
“The research and learning opportunities involve academics from 15 departments across the entire campus, and offer opportunities for interdisciplinary teaching, research, and community outreach initiatives,” says Scherf. “This is a new chapter in TRU’s relationship with one of the top mountains resort communities in Canada.”