Inspiring students to change the world

24 September 2019

A unique new degree from the University of Canterbury (UC) serves to inspire future leaders in our community, providing them with vital building blocks to champion change in a changing world.

  • Youth_and_Community_Leadership_NWS

    Associate Professor Billy Osteen and his CHCH101 class on a recent fieldtrip.

Offered by UC’s College of Education, Health & Human Development from 2020, the Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership (BYCL) builds on UC’s international reputation for social action to educate graduates who are more socially, ethically and culturally aware.

UC’s Student Volunteer Army (SVA) is the University’s most visible example of student leadership, having gained international acclaim for their determined and inspiring work in the Christchurch community immediately following the Canterbury earthquakes.

“Following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes the SVA have demonstrated, both to us within the university and their future employers, some amazing, transferable skills including communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork,” Associate Professor Billy Osteen says.

The mobilisation and success of the SVA inspired Associate Professor Osteen’s course, CHCH101 Strengthening Communities through Social Innovation, which forms the keystone of the new Bachelor of Youth and Community programme.

“This degree is a fantastic opportunity for us to further link academic study with hands-on experiences that are at the intersection of the University and communities,” Associate Professor Osteen says.

Designed for current and aspiring community leaders, the BYCL will empower students to make positive and meaningful contributions to society, developing them to be agile and innovative leaders, connected to community and equipped to take action for beneficial change at a local, national and global level.

Leadership futurist and Director of Think Beyond, an organisation focused on future leadership trends and strategic thinking, Dr Cheryl Doig says the BYCL is an exciting new development for the University.

“This exciting new degree provides a real connection to the skills and competencies needed to thrive in the future. The agility to respond to change, to behave ethically and to contribute globally are critical in an increasingly complex world,” she says. 

“The Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership models an entrepreneurial approach to learning and stands out as a modern qualification that lives and breathes agility, collaboration and connection. It will provide learners with the key transferable skills needed to succeed, not only as contributors, but as leaders.”

UC will also offer a Certificate in Youth and Community Leadership, which will be available both on-campus or by distance study. 

The degree and certificate will specifically appeal to:

  • Māori and Pasifika youth or other cultural leaders.
  • Activists aiming to bring about political or social change.
  • Humanitarians promoting better wellbeing.
  • Social entrepreneurs.
  • Those wishing to move into youth development.

Register here to join the College of Education, Health & Human Development as they officially launch the Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership on Wednesday 25 September.

  • Date: Wednesday 25 September
  • Time: 5 – 7pm
  • Location: Te Moana nui a Kiwi, Level 2, Rehua Building, UC Ilam Campus


Media contact:

Associate Professor Billy Osteen,, Ph: 027 272 4524


UC Communications team, University of Canterbury,,  Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168