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Four fundamental principles for upholding freedom of speech on campus

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.

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How we can turn the tide for women in science

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.

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We all put too much emphasis on test scores

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.

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Protecting free speech on campus: A solution in search of a problem

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.”

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For millennials, employment is a public health challenge

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.

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In Canada and US, fossil fuel divestment debates on campus spotlight the societal role of colleges and universities

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.”

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Gender quotas and targets would speed up progress on gender equity in academia

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.

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Mentors play critical role in quality of university and college experience, new poll suggests

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.

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When losing one’s research partner is like losing a part of oneself

“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.

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Dangerous stereotypes stalk black university and college athletes

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.

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