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Funding for two new micro-credentialing programs awarded to Queen’s

A student in class uses her laptop.
Queen's will introduce two new micro-credentialing programs this fall after receiving more than $500,000 from the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund. (Queen's University)

An award of more than $500,000 by the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund will propel two new micro-credentialing programs at Queen’s this coming fall.

The funding will help create a certificate in both the Smith School of Business and Centre for Neuroscience Studies (CNS). The Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Innovation, and Management is being developed by Smith in partnership with Redbird Circle Inc., a Certified Aboriginal Business that provides holistic education and training rooted in Indigenous pedagogy and western learning methodologies.

The second is the Micro-credentials in Neurotechnology Program, developed by the Centre for Neuroscience Studies in partnership with multiple neurotechnology sector partners.

Each micro-credential program will be launched in the fall. Micro-credentials can fulfil several functions from helping individuals learn new skills to updating proficiencies in their current sector or transitioning careers. Additionally, they help make individuals more employable. Micro-credentials typically require less time to complete than traditional degrees and can often be offered online. Many of those programs feature partnerships between institutions and businesses and/or community organizations, allowing learners to gain specialized skills.

Indigenous Leadership, Innovation & Management

The Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Innovation, and Management will be offered by Smith School of Business. The initiative is a collaboration between Smith’s Centre for Business Venturing (CBV), Community Revitalization Research Program (CRRP), and the Master of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program (MMIE), and co-developed/co-designed in partnership with Redbird Circle Inc. It will support Indigenous community members in rural and remote locations who have been laid off due to COVID-19, are receiving social assistance, or are at high risk of leaving organizations or businesses due to lack of promotion to management roles.

The certificate program will provide essential knowledge and skills directly related to working with First Nations, Inuit & Metis communities (rural & remote); upskilling in Indigenous leadership, management and intrapreneurship to nurture existing employee growth and career advancement to senior roles; and training of community members in Indigenous entrepreneurship to support local economic recovery and unemployment/underemployment rates.  

Learners will be able to take a series of independent micro-credentials and receive a digital badge of completion for each. If they choose to complete all the credentials, they will learn the Certificate in Indigenous Leadership, Innovation & Management.

“We are very excited to be working with Redbird Circle on this new program and supporting Indigenous communities,” says JP Shearer, Associate Director and Project Partnership Lead, Centre for Business Venturing, Smith School of Business. “The approach will be grounded in Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy and will include partnerships with local businesses for applied learning, immersive education, and employment opportunities.” 

Neurotechnology

The CNS at Queen’s is partnering with both NeuroTechX, the leading association for Neurotech enthusiasts worldwide, and Kinarm™ Labs, an established neurotechnology company in Kingston.

This micro-credentialing program will focus on: foundational neuroscience; measurement, processing, and modulation of brain signals; visualization of brain structure and function using imaging; behavioural assessment techniques; ethical, legal, and regulatory frameworks relevant to neurotechnology; and an optional capstone neurotech project course.

“The development of neurotechnologies, and their applications, is an emerging growth area in the economy,” says Susan Boehnke, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences and Lead of the Neurotech Microcredential Program with CNS. “However, there is an unmet need amongst learners for accessible, credentialed, education in Neuroscience. Leading neurotechnology companies and startups in Ontario lack local educational programs to support this emerging neurotech industry. Together with our industry partner – Canadian non-profit NeuroTechX – we hope to create accessible, innovative and interactive credentials focussing not just on the basic neuroscience and technical side of neurotech, but also on the ethical, societal, and regulatory considerations for those seeking to innovate in this space.”

Neurotechnology is an emerging growth industry that applies brain sensing, imaging or modulating technologies to solve real-world problems or enhance entertainment. Engineers and computer scientists possess the hard skills required, but often lack foundational neuroscience knowledge. Often, the reverse is true for biomedical and social science students. Business students have industry skills and entrepreneurial spirit, but lack foundational skills about the brain. Most groups of learners know little about neuroethical and regulatory frameworks. This micro-credentialing program will address these gaps by developing an initial suite of six micro-credentials, preparing students to transition into the neurotechnology industry or help those in the workforce upscale their skills.

Announced in 2020, the Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund is part of a three-year, $59.5 million investment to support the creation of micro-credentials throughout the province. Micro-credentials created using these funds are meant to focus on training that: Is employer responsive and leads directly to local or regional jobs; provides upskilling to existing employees within their current jobs; and supports a local COVID-19 response or other critical area of need within a community. Micro-credentials may become OSAP eligible and are available through eCampusOntario.

For information on micro-credentials offered at Queen’s, please visit the Micro-credentials Directory.