How the Chang School’s new course series could pave the way for a certificate program
The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University is developing new ways for students to become key players in the cannabis industry.
The latest step was the creation of a course series called Cannabis Essentials, which officially began at the start of the Winter 2020 semester.
The Chang School’s dean Gary Hepburn, said he hopes that these courses will allow the school to better understand the demand for cannabis education. Should the new courses do well, added Hepburn, Ryerson may then look into offering a certificate program.
“The whole idea with the course series was to give students the ability to tell employers what they accomplished,” Hepburn said. “This is Ryerson trying to move very quickly to try and prepare students for roles in the still-new cannabis industry.”
Before the legalization of cannabis in Canada, a market scan was conducted by the Chang School in 2018.
The results identified an opportunity to enhance Ryerson University’s entrepreneurial reputation by offering programs related to starting, running and scaling a cannabis-related business. The introductory course, CZEN420 The Business of Cannabis, was created to test the demand for cannabis education.
Hepburn said the quick creation and launch of the course before the official legalization date of Oct. 17, 2018 directly reflects Ryerson’s innovative reputation.
Instructor of the class, Brad Poulos, agrees that the steps the school took to create the first cannabis course prove Ryerson is the most entrepreneurial university in Canada and possibly North America.
“Given the fact that the cannabis industry is probably the most exciting and fastest-growing industry in North America right now, I think Ryerson picked a good fit,” Poulos said.
The course proved to be a success and two more courses, CZLW 420 Cannabis Law for Business and CKBG 420 Trends in Cannabis Science, were developed and launched in Fall 2019.
At the time, the courses were independent, but complementary to one another. In a Chang School council meeting held in December 2019, it was noted that because the learning outcomes of the classes aligned, there was an opportunity for students from all three courses to engage in, and benefit from, shared learning activities.
It was then proposed to combine the three courses into the new course series, Cannabis Essentials. Upon successful completion of the course, students will receive a professional development award.
According to Hepburn, a professional development award is a great accomplishment for students to strive for when thinking about their futures.
“It’s not really a Ryerson credential like a certificate or a degree or diploma, but it is a piece of paper that does indicate that they have taken a concentration of courses in a particular area,” said Hepburn.
Poulos added that the course is not worth any credit, so any students enrolled in the class are there because they want to learn about the industry. However, a piece of paper can go a long way when dealing with potential employers.
“[Having such a] credential that indicates you’ve built up some sort of expertise, that would separate you from the ‘pack,’ is a good thing for your career,” Poulos said.
As a student of the course, 52-year-old Mehran Mirza, was 30 minutes early for the Business of Cannabis’ first lecture. Mirza said he learned about the award through a Ryerson webinar.
“I always like to try new things, and as I have an oil and gas background, I thought learning about something like cannabis would be interesting,” Mirza said. “After learning of the award program through a well-conducted webinar by the university, I enrolled as fast as I could.”
The enrollment period for cannabis essentials will be open until Jan. 20, 2020.