The administration behind the new Bachelor of Social Innovation degree at Saint Paul University, from left to right, Simon Tremblay-Pepin, Philippe Dufort, Anahi Morales Hudon and Jonathan Durand-Folco. Photo courtesy of Saint Paul University

Saint Paul University takes innovation to the next level

  • March 7, 2018
Saint Paul University in Ottawa has good news for young Catholics who want to make a difference.

Beginning this fall, Saint Paul, which is a part of the University of Ottawa, will offer a Bachelor of Social Innovation degree — an arts degree that teaches the fundamentals of social sciences, business management and entrepreneurship.

The program, which was funded by a donation from the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, is spearheaded by the newly appointed director of the Élisabeth Bruyère School of Social Innovation, Simon Tremblay-Pepin.

Tremblay-Pepin envisions a program combining both social sciences and business management with the spirit of entrepreneurship and social justice.

“We analyze society, its issues and what we can do to change them,” said Tremblay-Pepin. “Along with the management aspect which teaches graduates how to build organizations that will transform society.”

In order to keep the program as personal as possible, only 30-35 new students will be accepted into the program each year. The first session this fall is offered in French only, with classes in English starting in January.

“Being a small Catholic university, we can offer an intimate setting that is beneficial for Catholic social innovators. Catholic values are at the root of all we do,” said Tremblay-Pepin.

“Values like generosity and charity are compatible with our new program. That is what the Sisters of Charity told us when they urged us to start our program. We are helping them to continue their mission of fighting against poverty.”

Unlike other university programs with competitive academic cut-offs and portfolio requirements, the new School of Social Innovation is asking applicants to submit a 500-word letter detailing their interest in the program.

“It’s not so much the marks we are looking for but the motivation. We want to see people who show initiative and will fit well into the program,” said Tremblay-Pepin.
Students will also have the opportunity to build their own non-profit organization’s while earning their undergraduate degree.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship is at the heart of this program,” he said. “We want students with ideas and the initiative to make them a reality. Which is why we will have an atelier of social innovation within the university where students can start and build their own workplaces. There will be lounges and meeting rooms they can use to meet with clients. By the time they receive their diploma, they could very well be well into starting their own social organization.”

Saint Paul is a bilingual university dating back to 1848.

It was founded by Bishop Joseph-Eugène Guigues and was granted official university status in 1866. It has about 1,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs.

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