by: Joel Rumson

There have been rumours regarding a possible biology-psychology program circulating the UNB Fredericton campus. This program would allow for students to take biology and psychology courses in a way similar to a double major but within the same program. 

Dr. Sandra Byers, chair of the Psychology department, spoke with The Brunswickan to address these rumours. The story is as follows from Byers’ perspective:

There are students at UNB Fredericton who are both interested in biology and psychology but there is no program offered to encompass this joint interest. After high demand in 2019, Dr. Byers and her colleagues began to question if such a program could be established for UNB Fredericton students. The UNBSJ campus already offers a biology-psychology program. 

“We have had lots of conversations with Saint John. We together have come up with some ideas about ways we can collaborate and submit a bit of a joint vision about also trying to make it so that students can transfer between campuses in this program. So for example you could do two years [of the program] here and then finish it in Saint John or vice versa. And we did make some progress on it,” Byers said. 

The Biology and Psychology departments spent strenuous hours working together to build the program. Honours requirements were also discussed.

“We realized that we could offer the program with no new resources because we have all the courses. It was just packaging, in a way that students could have what’s basically a double major. The program is called biology-psychology, and it gives them both their biology and psychology courses,” Byers said. 

After being passed through the Senate curriculum committee in January 2019, the program was refined, and both professors and departments were happy with the final result. The program was then sent to academic planning, in which there was discussion on how the program courses could be integrated into UNB Fredericton’s preexisting course timetables. 

 “We were happy with the program. We were happy, you know, the science faculty passed it. The Senate thought it was a great idea. We thought it was clear sailing, and we got stuck.” 

And this is where everything was completely halted. For no apparent reason. Nobody knows what happened –  the program appears to have simply been killed. 

When asked how this made her feel, Byers said:

“Well, there’ve been a number of other efforts too – from our side, from the President’s side. He does say that he wants this [program] to be provided to our students. But as of now it isn’t… I still get students in my office frequently, or sometimes email[s] asking how to register for the biology-psychology program. Well, we don’t have one,” said Byers.

“It’s not only that there isn’t a program, it’s that it just is not moving. I think frustration is certain. And not frustration for me – my job is the same. But I think it’s not fair to students. That annoys me. That was a program students want, that we can offer. And we just don’t,” she explained.

“And you know, there has always been the question of duplication between Saint John and Fredericton, but you know we have a biology department, we have a psychology department here in Fredericton. There are many programs that are on both campuses, which I personally find very frustrating. Our students at UNB in Fredericton want this program, need this program, and it would also benefit the students. I can’t really see a reason why it hasn’t moved forward.”

When Byers was asked for her final thoughts on the matter, she said:

“I will say in general, you know, UNB wants to put students first and students’ needs first, and we want to make sure that we’re providing quality programs… that our students need. And so I would say that if that’s our main focus, and so many students in Fredericton have said, ‘we need this program, we want this program,’ for a variety of different career paths… you know, we need to do what we need to do to meet those needs. That’s the bottom line. Our students need this, and we need to meet the students’ needs.”

Dr. Dion Durnford, chair of the UNBF Biology department was contacted, but as of the publication of this article, The Brunswickan has received no response.