On Campus

Should colleges teach alternative medicine?

If someone wants to pay $3,439 for a Intergrative Energy Healing Practitioner Certificate, they probably know what they're getting into

Cranial Sacral Therapy—Is it for you?

That’s not a question. Rather, it’s the name of one of the many continuing education courses at Vancouver’s Langara College that are somewhat outside the realm of your traditional syllabus.

Yesterday, a Globe and Mail article shone a light (perhaps through a crystal?) at the bevy of medical courses offered, and how it is riling some feathers in the medical community and at the college itself.

“There is not a single peer-reviewed controlled study backing up any of the treatments taught in that program, and it is an embarrassment to Langara,” Dale Beyerstein, a medical professor at Langara and UBC, said in the article.

For his part, Doug Soo, the dean of Continuing Studies at Langara, cited the courses as exploiting a niche market that Langara fills a demand for. He also noted that the practices taught in his school have been studied by the U.S. government. And when asked about Beyerstein’s complaints, he said the manager of the energy-healing program at the college debated him, and “as many people applauded for her as for him.”

There are a couple of points to make here. First, Doug Soo is a dean of a college. Call me crazy, but if challenged on the academic legitimacy of a program, I don’t think most deans wouldn’t cite the Applause-o-meter as a justification for their decisions.

But at the same time, the extensive array of programs have been approved by Langara’s board. Not to mention that the courses in question are part of the continuing education program, run for-profit, so it’s not as though public dollars are going towards the courses (whether Langara’s reputation is taking a hit is another matter, perhaps).

Fact is, if someone wants to pay the $3439 to take a “Intergrative Energy Healing Practitioner Certificate Program”, they probably know full well what they’re getting into. And if Langara doesn’t offer courses of this ilk, this is Vancouver we’re talking about—I’m pretty sure someone else would fill the void.

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