Top Ten

February 2, 2017

Academics debate boycotting US conferences

A growing number of academics are calling for a complete boycott of academic conferences hosted in the United States because of the country's recent travel ban, reports Simona Chiose for the Globe and Mail. While academic boycotts are not unusual, Chiose notes, the most recent calls for a US boycott are unique in how quickly they have gathered support. By Tuesday afternoon, over 4,000 academics around the world had signed a petition calling for the US boycott. “What we don’t want is for academic life to go on as usual. That would erase the bodies and voices of those who cannot be there,” says University of Alberta Associate Professor of Philosophy Marie-Eve Morin. Loren Landau of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, however, argues that “if you boycott academic conferences, you are doing Trump’s work: silencing critical voices and isolating the U.S. Why organize a protest that aids the very man you’re trying to undermine?” Globe and Mail

Five Canadian institutions make THE’s “most international” universities ranking

Five Canadian universities have made the top 40 “most international” universities in the world, according to rankings released by Times Higher Education. The rankings are drawn largely from the “international outlook” section of the THE World University Rankings 2016-17, which covers international staff, students, and co-authors. However, the ranking also factors in a measure of universities’ international reputations. The University of British Columbia was Canada’s highest-ranked university in this regard, placing #12 in the world. McGill University was the second highest-ranked Canadian institution at #23, followed by the University of Alberta (#31), University of Toronto (#32), and University of Waterloo (#34). Times Higher Education

NS faculty association calls on universities to drop lawsuit against teacher’s union

University faculty from across Nova Scotia claim that a lawsuit filed against the province’s teacher’s union by five universities “disrespects” the labour process, reports Metro. This Tuesday, the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers issued a release asking Acadia University, Cape Breton University, Mount Saint Vincent University, St Francis Xavier University, and Université Sainte-Anne to drop their suit against the NSTU for refusing to supervise student teachers. “No one wants to see students, or student teachers, harmed,” ANSUT President Marc Lamoureux said in the release. “But the decision of the five universities to sue the NSTU is an intrusion by a third party in the collective bargaining process of a certified union, and is especially troublesome given that the union membership is set to vote on the latest deal on February 8.” Metro

uLaval opens new feminist institute

After a reported 27 years of effort, l’Institut Femmes, Sociétés, Égalité et Équité has formally been founded at Université Laval.  La Presse reports that for IFSEE Director Hélène Lee-Gosselin, this marks a formal recognition of feminist studies by the university’s senior management. “De facto equality [between men and women] is still an objective to be achieved,” said President Denis Brière at the launch of the new institute. La Presse reports that the university was able to obtain funding for the institute thanks to an unspecified anonymous donation. Lee-Gosselin states that she is currently working to create a course on gender equality that is relevant to all fields of study at uLaval. La Presse

How universities can defend against ransomware attacks

“Over the past year, stories of ransomware attacks at universities from coast to coast have made headlines,” writes Shauna McGinn for University Affairs. While postsecondary institutions have faced cyberattacks before, Brock University Associate Professor Teju Herath says that ransomware represents an evolving and growing threat. Universities face a particularly high risk, Herath argues, because their emphasis on academic freedom makes their networks more open by nature. Further, universities typically hold significant amounts of personal and confidential information in their systems, which act as a strong incentive for hackers to attack their systems. The author concludes the article with a list of steps institutions can take to defend against cyberattacks. University Affairs

MUN, Bishop's waive application fees for students affected by US travel ban, UOttawa pledges tuition exemption

Memorial University and Bishop's University announced this week that they will waive application fees for students from the seven countries affected by the recently announced travel ban in the US. MUN's release expressed deep concern about the ban and pledged to provide “immediate and tangible support” to those affected by it. The release added that the school is also exploring first-semester scholarship support for students from the countries affected, and that MUN will provide further details as soon as they become available. The University of Ottawa has since announced that it will also implement a tuition fee exemption program to allow students affected by the ban to pursue their studies in the fall semester at the same tuition rates as Canadian students, among other measures. MUN | Bishop's | UOttawa

UWinnipeg academic workers receive 10% to 23% wage hike in first agreement

Tutors, markers, teaching assistants, and other academic workers at the University of Winnipeg will receive a 10% to 23% wage hike, and a further 2% increase in August 2017 as part of a collective agreement imposed by the Manitoba Labour Board. The agreement outlines stipulations around new job postings, transparent hiring processes, paid training and orientation sessions for all employees, and more. “Congratulations to the bargaining team and to all of the student workers on this important achievement,” said Sharon Muldrew, president of PSAC Local 55600. “The working world for millennials is more and more precarious, but I want students to know that if they fight for labour justice, they can achieve it.” CBC

Higher education as a global enterprise is under threat: Chronicle contributor

“Education today, and higher education in particular, is a global project,” write Molly Land and Kathryn Libal for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Yet the authors argue that the recent travel ban in the United States “undermines core values of our institutions of higher learning, many of which have long been refuges for freethinkers, dissidents, and intellectuals.” The ban should be especially concerning to educators, the authors add, as it sends a signal to many talented scholars and researchers that America may not be a safe place for them to study and teach. “[H]owever we respond, let us do so with the awareness that the executive order is an attack on all of us,” the authors conclude. “It is an attack on our students, our colleagues, and our friends—and on the values, purpose, and vitality of higher education itself.” Chronicle

Brampton well-positioned to take advantage of new university: Guardian contributor

“Hopefully all the participants, including the City of Brampton, will see the tremendous advantages,” writes Terry Miller of Ontario’s current efforts to create a Brampton-based university in partnership with one of the province’s 20 universities. The author cites ON Minister Deb Matthews' claim that that “lower skill and lower paid jobs may disappear within a decade” as part of the impetus behind the effort to establish a university campus in Brampton. The city has “had a diversity advantage with its 209 cultures and 80 languages,” the author notes, adding that “[those] features make international global markets an opportunity, but everyone needs to come to the table to create those possibilities.” Miller speculates on whether the project will come up against barriers before it can gain momentum, but concludes that if successful, the project “will shape success for the thousands of people that pass through the continuum of learning in this city.” Brampton Guardian

How faculty can deal with incivility in the classroom

“[In] order to deal with the challenges that incivility poses, faculty members must move beyond seeking solutions to every case of incivility they might encounter,” writes Courtney Wright for Inside Higher Ed. Instead, the author argues that faculty should work to understand the broader forces that are driving a rise of incivility in PSE. Wright argues that this approach is necessary because it helps faculty empathize with different perspectives and understand the disparities that exist in how faculty members experience incivility in different ways. “Faculty members are on the front lines of areas pertinent to students’ educational experiences and the success of institutions of higher learning,” the author concludes. “Creating a space for faculty members to productively share—and administrators to acknowledge—these realities is vital to providing the resources and support necessary to address incivility effectively.” Inside Higher Ed