Quest University Canada

Squamish Success Stories: Education

Quest University Canada was founded in 2002 by former UBC President Dr. David Strangway as Canada’s first independent, non-profit, liberal arts university.  From an initial class of 74 students in 2007, the university has grown to accommodate approximately 700 undergraduate students in the Garibaldi Highlands neighbourhood.

All Quest students live on campus and study the arts and sciences one course at a time on the block system in a hands-on, interdisciplinary, experiential curriculum. Classes are capped at 20 students to maximize faculty-student interaction, and the design of the Academic Building features seminar-style classrooms with accompanying breakout rooms to facilitate small group work and collaboration.

Students design their own individual course of study around a unique academic Question, which they develop at the end of the Foundation program in their second year of study. Upper-level students combine Concentration courses with Experiential Learning blocks that may include internships, volunteering, or fieldwork to pursue their Question across academic disciplines and with real-world experience that prepares them for a career after they graduate. 

This unique academic model has led to amazing innovation and success in Canadian post-secondary education. Quest University Canada regularly ranks at the top of Canadian universities nationwide for student satisfaction in the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).  In 2017, Founding Mathematics Tutor Glen van Brummelen was awarded a 3M Teaching Fellowship as one of Canada’s Top Ten university professors. Olenka Forde, class of 2013, is a great example of Quest’s outstanding alumni. She recently received the most prestigious award for Canadian Ph.D. candidates, the National Science and Engineering Research Council’s Alexander Graham Bell Doctoral Scholarship. Current student Elijah Cetas won Conservation Biology’s 2016 Rising Star Award for an article co-authored with Quest Tutor Maï Yasue on motivational values in successful conservation efforts.

Since the days when Quest was just a revolutionary idea in the mind of David Strangway, Squamish has been the perfect location and partner for the university. The District of Squamish embraced the innovative educational and employment opportunities that the university offered and continues to partner on projects. The Mayor and Council have always had an open ear for proposals and the Chamber of Commerce has helped Quest foster several high-tech and environmental collaborations with Quest. 

Population growth in Squamish has provided a skilled, diverse workforce and a growing audience for educational lectures and workshops. It is not unusual for Quest to host events in cooperation with the Sea-To-Sky MLA or for local community groups to welcome students as volunteers. The stunning nature right on the university’s doorstep is both playground and research lab for students and researchers with volcanic geology, temperate Northwest rainforest ecosystems, and the dynamic Howe Sound fjord and estuary. Quest University Canada is excited to be a part of the ongoing evolution of Squamish as the community grows in both size and vibrancy.

"Quest is committed to continue being the Respected, Responsive and Radical University that it has become in its first decade. With Squamish, we look forward to the adventure that lies ahead in our second decade before us."

Dr. George Iwama, President and Vice-Chancellor of Quest University Canada