Top Ten

February 22, 2016

Jewish group condemns YorkU faculty association over allegedly anti-Semitic divestment campaign

York University is once again facing criticism from a prominent Jewish organization, this time for the YorkU faculty association’s decision to divest itself of any investments in weapons manufacturing. Although the divestment campaign does not mention Israel, Avi Benlolo of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies has accused the university’s faculty association of supporting “a campaign of censorship against Israel and the Jewish People.” Benlolo contends that the campaign is anti-Semitic because of the support it has drawn from the YorkU chapter of Students Against Israeli Apartheid, a group that advocates a broader campaign of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel and Israeli academics. Faculty association President Richard Wellen said that SAIA is only one of dozens of organizations supporting the campaign. Benlolo also recently criticized YorkU over a mural hanging in the YorkU student centre. National Post

Students must be ready for a globalized world, says new SFU provost

Students must be prepared for a “quickly changing world,” said new Simon Fraser University Provost Peter Keller in an interview with the Vancouver Sun. “I think certainly in today’s world that looking at Aboriginal or Indigenous participation in postsecondary education should be very high on the university’s radar screen.” He added that while universities must prepare students for today’s job market, they must also keep an eye on the bigger context, given the rapid pace of change. “[Students] should be (world) savvy and ready to understand what it means to participate in a knowledge economy in a globalized world," he said. Vancouver Sun

uSask receives $5.2 M funding for wheat research

The University of Saskatchewan has announced that its Crop Development Centre (CDC) has received $5.2 M in funding from the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF). The funding renews a long-standing partnership in wheat breeding between the two organizations that has seen the development and commercialization of more than 30 new varieties. “This funding builds on 20 years of collaborative research with western Canadian farmers through WGRF,” said CDC Managing Director Kofi Agblor. “Renewed funding expands our research program in wheat to include the deployment of molecular tools to improve breeding efficiency as well incorporating agronomic and quality traits that are vital to making wheat a competitive crop for our producers.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix | WGRF | uSask

Professors to establish International Federation of National Teaching Fellows

Mount Allison University Professor Elizabeth Wells and Arts University at Bournemouth (UK) Professor Kirsten Hardie are working to establish an international resource network called the International Federation of National Teaching Fellows. “The goal of the federation is to mobilize and connect the best minds in teaching around the world, which is a very powerful prospect,” said Hardie. Planned initiatives for the federation include an annual teaching and learning summit, a journal, and a new international teaching award. “We’re also planning to involve students as much as possible in this new global partnership, said Wells. “We hope to build on these types of programs and connect students internationally.” MTA

Finding a job after graduation requires “work and determination” during PSE

While university graduates generally do better than the national average in terms of finding a job after graduation, it still requires work and determination during their time in school, writes Karen Durrie for the Calgary Herald. The author goes on to quote University of Calgary Manager of Career Services Colleen Bangs, who says that, “Students can start by coming to the career centre as early as first year to talk about a career development plan." She recommends that students get involved early in extra-curricular activities such as volunteer work to give themselves a competitive edge. Networking is crucial, she adds, as it is important to get to know professors so you’re not “another face in the crowd” when you need a reference letter. Calgary Herald

Not enough students for university satellite campuses

The closure of Nipissing University’s Muskoka campus and Laurentian University’s offerings in Barrie has provoked a broader discussion of satellite campuses in Ontario. “Basically what a satellite campus is designed to do is to reach out to an underserved area, provide professional training in postsecondary education to people who would otherwise not be able to go,” said University of Saskatchewan Canada Research Chair Ken Coates. “We have everybody scrambling after the same declining number of students, particularly outside of the greater Toronto area. There are not enough students to go around." Coates added that in the case of Laurentian, students in Barrie would likely turn to GTA schools for general programming. CBC

Amid oil slump, Great Plains cuts fees for safety courses

Great Plains College has announced that it will reduce fees for its safety training programs by 15% starting on March 1. “We understand the challenges that are facing the oil and gas industry. Keeping safe at work should not be one of those challenges,” said Great Plains’ Lyla Cooper, co-ordinator of skills and safety training at the college’s Swift Current and Maple Creek campuses. “Hopefully this will assist with the financial constraints that our valued clientele across all industries may be enduring at this time,” added Lana Rhodes, who holds the same position as Cooper at the college’s Kindersley, Warman, Rosetown, and Biggar campuses. CBC | Southwest Booster | Great Plains

Tensions on the rise between librarians and publishers

Librarians are caught between a rock and a hard place, as journal publishers expect them to crack down on ‘pirates’ at the same time that these librarians are criticizing the publishers’ policies. “We are probably both their biggest consumer of the materials [publishers] sell as well as their biggest critics,” USC librarian Carolyn Gardner told the Chronicle of Higher Education. And tensions are on the rise, as services like Sci-Hub have sprung up to provide illegal free access to journal articles. Gardner has surveyed over 200 scholars who used ‘alternative methods’ to access journal articles, finding that while many had used interlibrary loans, some believed the process was too slow. Chronicle of Higher Education

Who is being helped by academic writing?

“If my research never gets out of the ivory tower, then who is it helping?” asks educator and activist Jackson Wright Shultz in an essay for Inside Higher Ed. Shultz speaks of his own experience of the barriers faced by academics who try to write for a general public. In some cases, he notes that his accessible and broad approach to scholarship generates great surprise from both academics and non-academics alike, which in turn “speaks volumes about the ongoing inaccessibility of research.” He concludes by questioning whether it is time to “see a larger push to increase research access—not just by protesting academic paywalls—but also by truly examining the language and methods we use for conducting and conveying our work.” Inside Higher Ed