Research Partnership Connects China and Burnaby

May 25, 2018

UBC students to share research with Burnaby Village Museum visitors in July and August

The Burnaby Village Museum (BVM) is pleased to announce a joint partnership with the UBC Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies program (ACAM), the UBC Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), UBC Go Global, the UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems (LFS), and St. John’s College, UBC (SJC).

The Burnaby Village Museum is working with UBC’s ACAM, CCEL, Go Global, LFS, and SJC units to develop an innovative model for Global Engagement, Local Impact, a potentially transformative approach to learning that exemplifies the uniquely international connections and characteristics of the Lower Mainland and Metropolitan Vancouver. This innovative partnership between the Burnaby Village Museum and UBC creates a framework that allows students to travel globally to conduct research and then transfer that knowledge back into a regional setting, thus creating local impact. At the heart of this knowledge mobility model is a UBC Go Global summer field studies class which will take place in rural China (Kaiping), Hong Kong, and Vancouver. “The Heritage of Chinese Migration – ACAM 390”, taught by Professor Henry Yu (History department), will immerse 20 undergraduate students in an experiential, qualitative research-intensive academic exchange experience. As a core part of its curriculum, the learning model ties research conducted in a global context to local work opportunities for students in community-based settings.

Upon returning to Vancouver, UBC will employ students for placements in a variety of community settings. At the Burnaby Village Museum, a group of students will work with Museum staff in July and August to turn their research into interpretive material that can be shared with visitors. This will provide exciting opportunities for students to apply heritage conservation, medicinal eating traditions, and sustainable agriculture practices from rural China and Hong Kong to the Burnaby Village Museum’s research, programming, and exhibits. The students are also given a unique opportunity to help imagine and create new interactive educational resources using innovative technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality software.

Professor Henry Yu remarks that Burnaby is a particularly apt location for the students to work because of “the long history of local Chinese market-gardens and produce farms along the Fraser River.” For much of the history of the Lower Mainland, Chinese farmers helped feed the local population by growing fresh produce in farms such as those at the “Big Bend” of the Fraser along Marine Drive. Students creating research knowledge about farming in rural China can help us understand sustainable, organic farming techniques historically used by Chinese farmers in Burnaby and the Fraser delta region.

Curator Lisa Codd is excited that the Burnaby Village Museum, which has long been a popular educational destination for school children and families, “can help kids and adults learn that Burnaby is a great place to grow food – there are several community gardens, and many Burnaby families grow food in their back yards. Burnaby’s Big Bend area includes an urban agricultural land reserve where market gardens continue to thrive today. Some of those gardens have been farmed for generations by Chinese-Canadian families.”

UBC students and visitors to the Burnaby Village Museum will benefit from an approach that mobilizes research to make it accessible to local communities. Visitors to the Museum this July and August will have an opportunity to access research and information relevant to their communities, while the students will gain an understanding of how research can be applied in a community setting. For the students, says former UBC student and ACAM Program Manager Joanna Yang, “having a summer job waiting for them after they finish their classes isn’t such a bad thing either!”

Media Contacts:

Henry Yu, Professor
University of British Columbia

Joanna Yang, Program Coordinator
University of British Columbia
Office: (604) 827-1874

Lisa Codd, Curator
Burnaby Village Museum
(604) 297-4542


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