Students keenly interested in the business practices connected to the design and production of clothing and textiles can now earn a bachelor of science degree in that discipline at the University of Alberta, beginning in September 2018.
A new, four-year degree program is being offered jointly by the Department of Human Ecology in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (ALES), and the university’s School of Business.
Named the Fashion Business Management Bachelor of Science Degree, it is the only such program available in Western Canada; the nearest one is in Toronto. It combines studies in business management principles with the theoretical, practical and ethical processes involved in textile and clothing design, production, distribution and consumption.
“We want this degree to open more doors for students when they graduate,” said Deanna Williamson, chair of the Department of Human Ecology.
The program has been designed for students who want to develop business skills for management-level jobs in the fashion industry or for their own fashion-related business, said Lori Moran, an instructor in the department’s fashion industry and textile courses who also helped develop the program proposal.
“Textile and clothing production are among the world's largest consumer industries but they have become more global and complex, and more reliant on business and supply chain management,” she said.
In addition to Moran, several other faculty experts ensured the program meets the current demands of both students and industry. Kathryn Chandler (the department’s practicum co-ordinator), Sven Anders (an economics researcher with a focus on retail competition and product differentiation) and Scott Jeffery, ALES’ associate dean academic, all helped shape the program.
Its courses will give students an advanced understanding of marketing, buying and selling in the fashion business—including product development, designing promotional campaigns and sourcing raw materials globally—as well as a firm grounding in strategic planning and management processes.
Students will have access to the department’s Anne Lambert Clothing and Textiles Collection, one of Canada’s leading collections of fashion and textiles, housing more than 23,000 garments, accessories and textiles. They will also have an opportunity to participate in either the ALES Internship Program or the School of Business Co-op Program (paid, full-time work experiences that range from four to 16 months).
“This cross-faculty collaboration is a significant strength of the new degree program,” said Stan Blade, dean of the Faculty of ALES.
“By obtaining skills in fashion studies and in business practices during their undergraduate program, students can start plotting their career paths early, and perhaps forgo the need for additional and costly training immediately after graduation.”
It is also fitting, said Blade, that approval of the new degree by the government of Alberta’s Ministry of Advanced Education is occurring during the 100th anniversary year of what is now called the Department of Human Ecology. (It was established in 1918 as the Department of Household Economics.)
“This new degree underlines how this department has remained robust and relevant over the past century—it meets societal changes head-on with meaningful adjustments.”