Top Ten

February 22, 2017

Concordia program looks to build resilience through exposure to hateful speech

A new project led by a Concordia University professor is looking to expose students and community members to hateful speech in an effort to build resistance to radicalization, reports Simona Chiose of the Globe and Mail. For the past year, a team of researchers from across Canada has been working to design tools and classroom experiments that help students talk about hate in a pluralistic society. “What we want to do is to begin conversations between groups of people who may not agree with one another on issues of political and social import,” says Concordia Associate Professor of Education Vivek Venkatesh. “We need to learn how to hate in a pluralistic society—this is something that our project is trying to allow multicultural societies to express.” Globe and Mail

Calgary looks to UCalgary for inspiration, support with new innovation project

Members of the University of Calgary community recently came together with City of Calgary leaders and community partners to celebrate the launch of a new municipal project designed to foster social innovation. Named Civic Innovation YYC, the initiative aims to make government more open, innovative, and transparent by fostering collaboration between the city and its citizens, businesses, and stakeholders on new ideas that can improve city services. The launch was hosted at UCalgary’s Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning and featured a night of discussion on how to further the initiative’s goals. “We were thrilled … to see so many people come together with energy and enthusiasm, as engaged citizens, freely sharing their ideas on how to make our city an even better place to live and work,” says Diane Kenyon, UCalgary’s vice-president of University Relations. UCalgary

Budget should reflect that humanities, social sciences are key to resilient economy

“Canada needs all of the arts, social sciences and humanities to build an inclusive, innovative, democratic and prosperous society and economy,” writes Christine Tausig Ford of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, adding that the federation welcomes the federal government’s recognition of the role that these disciplines play in the country’s prosperity. With an eye toward the 2017 federal budget, Ford suggests that the government ensure that inclusivity is a key theme of their approach to both the economy and society at large. To this end, Ford asks that the government develop a long-term plan for sustained, predictable, multi-year investment in fundamental research through the federal granting councils, as well as more meaningful, paid work-integrated learning experiences for students of the arts, social sciences, and humanities. Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Olds student creates mushroom-growing business using waste from beer brewing

What started out as a quirky hobby for a student at Olds College has turned into a entrepreneurial venture in mushroom growing, reports CBC. 21-year-old Alex Villeneuve says that he first began growing mushrooms in his dorm room closet using the waste barley that was left over from brewing batches of beer. Now in his final year of Olds’ brewmaster program, Villeneuve says that faculty and administrators at his college quickly helped him turn his project into a full-fledged mushroom-growing facility, which he says will soon be supplying markets and restaurants across Alberta. Jason Dewling, vice-president of academics and research at Olds College, has commended Villeneuve’s efforts, saying that “seeing Alex take advantage of value-added agriculture, and then taking waste from that value-added in the brewery, and then turn it into another monetizing product, is exactly what we want to be contributing back to Alberta.” CBC

QC’s Maple Spring has left a questionable legacy, writes Globe contributor

“No recent moment in Quebec’s highly romanticized history has been glorified as much as the Maple Spring,” writes Konrad Yakabuski for the Globe and Mail, but the author argues that “the true legacy of the Maple Spring has been the political paralysis of the provincial government and the most underfunded universities in Canada.” The author highlights the fact that on average, tuition fees in QC account for only 15% of university revenues, and compares this to Ontario, where tuition accounts for nearly one-third of these revenues. Yakabuski adds that even while current QC Premier Philippe Couillard has vowed to reinvest in the postsecondary system, the funding will not be enough to reverse the damage done by years of insufficient revenues. Globe and Mail

CFS says government write-off indicates “Need For Immediate Change”

CFS-FCÉÉ says that the federal government's write-off of an alleged $178.4M in student loans indicates a “need for immediate change.” The group states that this recent action brings the total amount of unrecoverable student loan write-offs since 2012 to $961.4M. “It’s time for Canada to turn the page on soaring tuition fees and mounting student debt by moving towards a universal system of public post-secondary education,” says CFS National Chairperson Bilan Arte. “No one should be forced to declare bankruptcy as a consequence of pursuing higher education or skill training.” The release references the federation’s National Lobby Week, where MPs and Senators were presented with the students’ vision for postsecondary education. CFS-FCÉÉ

Getting rid of counterproductive jealousy in the academic workplace

“Very little has been written on jealousy in academic life, and yet, anecdotal evidence suggests that it is prevalent in our profession,” writes Jay Daniel Thompson in an examination of jealous academics. Thompson discusses how academe’s current employment conditions and various other aspects of the industry can contribute to jealousy, and describes how this jealousy can impede an academic’s own success by consuming valuable time and energy. The author recommends accepting the feeling of jealousy when it arises, recognizing that the industry is a highly competitive one, and refocusing on one’s own academic career. Thompson further cautions academics to protect their reputation by refusing to engage in unprofessional comments about other academics, and to develop interests outside of the academy. Chronicle

CNC to raise tuition 2% in September 2017

The College of New Caledonia is reportedly set to increase student tuition fees by 2% this fall to help offset inflation on fixed expenses like gas and hydro services, reports MyPrinceGeorgeNow. Fees at the school reportedly fall $300 below the BC tuition average, and CNC President Henry Reiser states that the school can no longer afford to hold off on the increase. “What happened a number of years ago was that a decision was made not to increase tuition by 2% and by compounding, the college fell further and further behind,” said Reiser. The Board also agreed to increase tuition for its new Dental Hygiene program, raising it to $28.7K. A CNC release states that this cost makes the program the second most affordable of its kind in BC. MyPrinceGeorgeNow | CNC

UK proposals suggest that students caught plagiarizing face fines, criminal record

Possible fines and a criminal record are among the punishments being considered for UK university students who are caught submitting papers purchased from essay mills, reports the Telegraph. The British government is reportedly considering these punishments as part of a broader strategy to combat a rise in “contract cheating,” which refers to students’ purchasing and submitting essays written by professional contractors. Last month, the Telegraph reportedly revealed that upwards of 20,000 students enrolled at British universities were paying up to £6,750 for essays in order to obtain degrees. “Essay mill websites threaten to undermine the high quality reputation of a UK degree so it is vital that the sector work together to address this in a consistent and robust way,” said Universities Minister Jo Johnson. Telegraph

CBU, faculty ratify new contract

Cape Breton University and its faculty have ratified a new collective agreement. CBC reports that a key issue in the ongoing contract talks was a clause that gave the university the ability to lay off faculty members in a financial emergency, or if CBU needed or wanted to shut down a program. The faculty association said late last month that both sides had come to an agreement on the clause with the help of a provincial conciliator. Calvin Howley, vice-president of the faculty association and a member of the negotiating team, said members are relieved the contract dispute has reached a conclusion. CBC