Top Ten

March 2, 2016

Canada invests over $48 M in strategic science and engineering partnerships

Canada’s Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan yesterday announced more than $48 M in federal funding for science and engineering partnerships through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada’s Strategic Partnership Grants. The funds will be used to support 76 research teams across the country in initiatives designed to create clean jobs, grow the economy, and protect the environment. “Strategic Partnerships connect companies and governments with Canada’s brain trust to advance research in areas where we can be a world leader,” said NSERC President Mario Pinto. “By accessing deep research expertise, these collaborations can help provide tangible outcomes to solve fundamental societal and economic issues.” Canada

BC budget faces criticism for investments in PSE, infrastructure

In a motion that reportedly drew criticism from several parties, the BC Liberals proposed a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes an additional $25 M for postsecondary funding. The funding is allegedly focused on honouring wage increase agreements for public sector employees, which The Peak has equated to giving “less to students and more to administration.” BC’s $2.5 B postsecondary infrastructure budget will reportedly focus on creating new buildings rather than upgrading and maintaining existing ones, which Simon Fraser University Professor Steeve Mongrain says will have no impact in the short-term. “The current crop of undergraduate students are unlikely to see any benefit,” he said. The Peak

Parliament introduces legislation to ease citizenship requirements for international students

Canada has introduced legislation that is designed to make it easier for international students to gain citizenship after graduating. The legislation will reportedly repeal a number of changes made by the previous Conservative government under Bill C-24 in June 2015. Some of the new legislation’s most significant changes will be in reducing the period of physical residency required to apply for citizenship, allowing students to count time spent studying in Canada toward their residency requirement, and reviewing the Canadian Experience Class program. ICEF

Providing solutions for Canada’s part-time PSE employment problem

“In Canada there seems to be little awareness among the broader public that their universities are operating on the backs of underpaid instructors who may not be rehired next semester,” writes Grace Karram Stephenson for University World News. This finding comes from a recent public survey of 1,000 Canadians that was presented at a conference hosted by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. Stephenson concludes by summarizing some of the main takeaways from the OCUFA conference, which look to move beyond criticism of current precarious employment in higher ed and toward new models of compensation and governance that can effectively address the problem. University World News

uToronto opens mental health and physical activity research centre

The University of Toronto recently launched the Mental Health and Physical Activity Research Centre (MPARC), which is reportedly one of the first research facilities to integrate the study of physical and mental health in Canada or beyond. The centre contains seven suites that will allow uToronto to conduct research on topics such as how exercise can improve patients’ quality of life, and to develop web and app-based technology for improving mental health. “Now that we have this state-of-the-art centre, we can do our own cutting edge research and also contribute to larger multi-site projects,” says Professor Guy Faulkner. “Sweat is the best antidepressant, and MPARC will be a leading research centre, allowing us to discover and share knowledge about how best to get more people, more active, more often. uToronto

BC provides $400 K in funding to projects investigating drinking on campus

British Columbia is investing $400 K into Changing Cultures of Substance Use, a project intended to facilitate a dialogue between students about the effects of excessive drinking. The project is run by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, located at the University of Victoria, and the BC chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association. The project has 11 postsecondary institutions that are involved with CCSU in multiple ways. "Too often, I think the issue is we don't think about our decisions around alcohol," said CARBC Director Dan Reist, “what we want to do is get people to raise their level of intentionality around these things—think about the choices they make, and make those choices a little more consciously." CBC | Kamloops This Week | CARBC | UVic

HEC Montréal signs two agreements in West Africa

HEC Montréal has signed two agreements in West Africa, one with Centre Africain d'Etudes Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG) and one with Banque Centrale des états de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO). In the agreement with CESAG, HEC Montréal will be offering its BBA 2+2, which allows students to complete their first two years of study in Dakar and the latter two years in Montreal, as well as its MBA Essentials program through CESAG. With BCEAO, HEC Montréal will be developing joint continuing education programs, writing case studies adapted to the West African financial sector, and exchanging human resources through lectures, seminars, and other programming. HEC Montréal

Getting more women in STEM might be a matter of emphasizing practice over theory

The lack of women in STEM fields at the postsecondary level might be the result of how they are taught in high school, according to Camosun College engineering instructor Kathy Tarnai-Lokhorst. A recent article in Maclean’s looks into Tarnai-Lokhorst’s ongoing doctoral work on both the causes of and solutions to a lack of female engineering students in Canada and beyond. Part of the work involves surveying high school students before and after they are exposed to teaching that emphasizes hands-on practice over theory. “I’m creating this activity that will, I hope, become embedded in the British Columbia science curriculum,” she said. Maclean’s

Publicly engaged academics will overcome their critics, writes THE contributor

Despite what some tenured professors might think, sharing one’s knowledge with a broader public is not a waste of time, writes Physics Professor Philip Moriarty for Times Higher Education. Moriarty discusses his efforts to engage in public scholarship, and explains that these efforts have occasionally drawn the attention of dissenting colleagues, who respond by telling him to “stop wasting [his] time on YouTube and do research. After outlining the core benefits of publicly engaged research, Moriarty concludes by insisting that, “The vast majority of academics are publicly funded. We therefore have an obligation to explain our research to the people who fund it.” Times Higher Education

Why does PSE still use grades?

"Why do we keep using grades if they are not a good indicator of student learning?" asks Corinne Ruff of the Chronicle of Higher Education. The author goes on to examine how instructors and administrators in the US are increasingly calling for systems that focus more on a pass/fail evaluation of learning outcomes than on ranking students by GPA. Defenders of traditional grading argue that it motivates students to do more than the bare minimum required of a course and to excel above their peers. However, both camps admit that grades are losing their meaning in PSE, as instructors who are fearful of poor student teaching evaluations continue to inflate their students’ grades. Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription Required)