It goes without saying – or at least it ought to – that freedom of speech should be a core value of universities. As a scholar of freedom of speech and a university academic, it has been gratifying to see so many Vice Chancellors (and a former Chief Justice of the High Court) take it so seriously.
For the first time in 55 years, a woman has won the Nobel Prize in physics — Prof. Donna Strickland. This win has publicly highlighted that women are still under-represented in science, particularly in physics. As a woman in physics, this lack of diversity is something that I encounter almost daily, and also something that we can take action to change.
We live in testing times. We also live in a time of globalization, immigration and the internationalization of schools and universities around the world. Our current obsession with school accountability and student learning outcomes has resulted in the increased use and abuse of test scores — in particular language test scores.
This summer, mere days before the beginning of the semester at most universities in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford announced a new policy requiring “every publicly assisted college and university to develop and publicly post its own free speech policy by January 1, 2019, that meets a minimum standard specified by the government.”
Millennials now make up the largest share of the Canadian workforce and many are facing precarious working conditions. As a society, we have previously assumed that if young Canadians invest in formal training and “pay their dues” in poor quality jobs early in their careers, they will work their way into better quality employment. A recent report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) suggests a different reality.
As a new academic year begins after a summer of deadly heat waves, wildfires, droughts and floods, many college students and faculty are debating whether and how to get involved in climate politics. Climate advocacy has become well established on U.S. campuses over the past decade, in diverse forms. More than 600 colleges and universities have signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. Schools are expanding interdisciplinary teaching and research in environmental studies, sustainability science and climate resilience, and investing in “greening” their campuses. And many activists on campuses around the country are participating in global campaigns like “Rise for Climate, Jobs and Justice” and “Keep it in the Ground.”
Recently, the University of Adelaide used a special exemption under the Equal Opportunity Act to advertise eight academic positions in the faculty of engineering, computer and mathematical sciences for women only. This raises questions about why a university might take this approach. While Australia has had gender equality legislation for 30 years, there has been very slow progress towards addressing the gender equity issues plaguing the sector. To illustrate, women are still under-represented at senior levels. Only 27% of full professors (the main recruitment pool for top jobs) are women, and only 32% of Vice-Chancellors in public universities.
In order to have a rewarding college experience, students should build a constellation of mentors. This constellation should be a diverse set of faculty, staff and peers who will get students out of their comfort zones and challenge them to learn more – and more deeply – than they thought they could. Students should begin to build this network during their first year of college.
“If you want to see Rich alive, now’s the time.” I sucked in air as I read the text from his wife. I knew this was coming. But, I had been hoping for a miracle. I met my friend Richard Thompson at a mental health grant-writing boot camp at Cornell Medical Center almost 20 years ago. We were both young psychologists hoping to learn how to secure federal funding for our own research. Senior scientists, mainly academic psychiatrists, were presenting seven days’ worth of tips and tutorials on what the National Institutes of Health wanted in a scientifically solid and innovative proposal.
If you go strictly by the official account, heatstroke was the cause of death for University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair. McNair died earlier this year following a grueling practice in which training staff failed to properly diagnose and treat his condition. But there’s another culprit – or at least a contributing factor – that should not be overlooked.
Sara did not expect much to come from her visit to the university’s counseling center, but she was concerned enough about the dark thoughts she’d been having that she decided to go anyway. As she sat in the waiting room after turning in the patient questionnaire, she thought: “It’s probably not a big deal. I’m probably overreacting.” But she wasn’t. After reviewing her screening survey, staff at the counseling center didn’t want her to leave without speaking to a therapist.
The Trump administration recently announced plans to scrap Obama-era guidelines that encouraged universities to consider race as a factor to promote diversity on campus, claiming the guidelines “advocate policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the Constitution.” Some university leaders immediately went on the defense.
A group of 25 interns sit at Baycrest Health Sciences, a research centre for aging in Canada, their eyes glued to their smart phones. They are playing SOS — an award-winning game that simulates real-world gerontology practice — where they compete with other students to earn virtual currency. Across town, a group of professors sit around a table at George Brown College, designing a role-playing game with a virtual hospital called The Grid, based on a Matrix-like theme of saving the world from ignorance, for an accredited program in health sciences. Yet another team of game programmers are hard at work at Humber College, building a virtual reality experience of a subway car after a bomb incident. Players wear goggles, moving from person to person, saving some and tagging others for care later on.
South Africa finally has a disability policy that’s specific to the higher education sector. The new policy framework should be celebrated as an achievement. Its value is that, because it’s specific to the sector, it gives institutions (such as universities) a common vision. It also enables monitoring and evaluation of progress that is context specific.
Guidelines for how universities should respond to student sexual assault and sexual harassment released late last week fail to address the reason so many students don’t actually report their experiences. Nor do the guidelines, released by Universities Australia, address prevention of student sexual assault and harassment.