Top Ten

March 10, 2017

Celebrity PSE courses reflect growing emphasis on media literacy

“Over the past few years, a growing number of universities have warmed to teaching classes linked to today’s celebrities,” writes David Friend for the Canadian Press. Friend highlights the rise of courses such as Washington University’s “Politics of Kanye West: Black Genius and Sonic Aesthetics,” which began in January 2017 and reportedly filled up almost instantly when registration opened. The author adds that while celebrity courses are not new to PSE, today’s versions now exist in a world where “social media has injected an immediacy into the conversation unlike ever before.” While such courses still have their critics, Friend adds, many professors have embraced them as an effective way of getting young students to talk about relevant social issues. “Let’s face it, Beyonce is a much more influential public figure than the vast majority of our political figures,” says Concordia University lecturer Marc Lafrance. Globe and Mail (CP)

U of T to introduce new program directed towards black med school applicants

The University of Toronto has announced that it will undertake a new initiative aimed at boosting the chronically low number of black students who apply to its medical school, reports the Toronto Star. A new application program directed towards black medical school applicants will be modelled on a similar process for Indigenous students that U of T says has been successful in attracting more applicants. Lisa Robinson, chief diversity officer with the faculty of medicine and a physician at Sick Kids Hospital, explains that students using the program must meet the same educational standards as all other applicants, adding that use of the program is voluntary and that there are no targets or quotas set for students of African or Caribbean heritage. “Our ultimate goal is we’re trying to seek, attract and retain students, faculty and staff who really reflect the diversity of Canadian society and Toronto,” says Robinson. Toronto Star

Women’s studies programs must fight for existence despite healthy enrolments: UA contributor

The field of women and gender studies has always fought to gain and maintain recognition in the academy, writes Lauren McKeon, adding that the urgency of doing so is as clear today as it has ever been. McKeon chronicles the stories of how several women and gender studies programs based in Canada have fought to maintain funding, even in situations where they have “a consistent waitlist and burgeoning enrolment.” According to scholars from the field, women and gender studies—and other disciplines that seek to identify and fight social inequality—are often some of the first programs to be cut for budgetary reasons. McKeon concludes by highlighting professors’ calls for women and gender studies to become a core introductory course for first-year university students, and for the discipline to “break out of the social sciences and influence learning in such disciplines as mathematics, science and business.” University Affairs

Queen’s to expand, redesign online offerings with $1.2M funding

Queen’s University has received $1.2M in funding from eCampusOntario to develop or redesign seven online programs through the New Program Development grant program. The proposals were submitted by Queen’s Faculty of Arts and Science and Faculty of Health Sciences, and cover a range of subjects including entrepreneurship and innovation, health leadership, and undergraduate research. “Our successes are a direct result of the expertise and engagement that our faculty and staff bring to the development of these innovative, well-designed courses,” commented John Pierce, Acting Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning). “Collectively, we remain committed to facilitating a transformative online learning experience for our students, and these new projects will contribute to that.” Queen's

Laurentian, Cambrian partner to foster research and innovation in Northern ON

Laurentian University and Cambrian College have signed an MOU signaling their commitment to collaborate on projects that enable faculty, students, and staff at both institutions to pursue large-scale research initiatives. The agreement will specifically aim to harness the resources and expertise of the two institutions in order to enhance the educational experience for student researchers, attract and develop top quality professionals, increase fundamental and applied research capacity and income, and strengthen Sudbury’s culture of innovation through postsecondary collaboration. Laurentian | Sudbury Star

Online writing assignment for entering students can boost retention: HEQCO study

Participation in an online, goal-setting writing program could help reduce student attrition rates, particularly among those who are most likely to leave early, according to a new report by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario. The study examined the effectiveness of the Future Authoring writing program among entering students at Mohawk College. The program included an online writing assignment that asked students about important aspects of their lives and how their futures could improve if they overcame bad habits and behaviours. The study found that participants in the program had an overall attrition rate that was 3.3 to 4.3 percentage points lower than those in the control group. The effects were more pronounced for students who typically have higher leaving rates, including male students, those enrolled in certificate programs and interdisciplinary studies, and those with lower high school grades. HEQCO | Report

Camosun receives $1M donation to support women in trades

Camosun College has received $1M—the largest private donation in the school’s history—to support women seeking to complete Red Seal apprenticeships in the trades. A Camosun release reports that the donation brings the total amount raised by the college’s TRADEmark of Excellence Campaign to $7.5M. The funds will specifically support women looking to complete apprenticeships in trades such as welding, sheet metal, mechanical, and construction through the new Camosun Empowering Women in Trades Program. The donation was made by the Gwyn Morgan and Patricia Trottier Foundation, and will help women overcome financial challenges that include transportation, child care, living expenses, and the cost of protective clothing and tools. Times Colonist

Tips for achieving work-life balance as a busy administrator

While the role of administrator comes with substantial challenges, Joya Misra and Jennifer Lundquist of Inside Higher Ed state that “you don’t have to choose between being an effective leader and a happy, healthy person.” In order to maintain a work-life balance as an administrator, Misra and Lundquist recommend the following: learn to delegate duties, schedule face time, set clear expectations around online and in-person availability, organize your schedule to clarify and meet priorities, listen to criticism with an open mind, and schedule (and take) holidays that fully remove you from the workplace. Inside Higher Ed

Selkirk signs MOU with Chinese ski resort leader

Selkirk College has signed an MOU that cements its collaborative relationship with a major Chinese leader in the ski resort industry. AXIS Leisure Management Ltd is a Beijing-based group specializing in leisure resort project development, whose founder Justin Downes is reportedly a leader from the Canadian industry who is now working on developing the ski industry in China. The new MOU specifically works to solidify cooperation between Axis and Selkirk’s Ski Resort Operations & Management Program. “It’s very encouraging to have a formal agreement signed with Axis and Selkirk College,” says Bob Falle, School Chair of Hospitality & Tourism at Selkirk. “Networking with Justin has been valuable for us as we make connections in the up-and-coming Chinese ski industry.” Selkirk

UPEI looks to tighten cybersecurity in response to uMoncton attacks

The University of Prince Edward Island has announced that it has tightened its email security in the wake of a recent string of emails targeting a student at Université de Moncton. UPEI Chief Information Officer Dana Sanderson says that there is no way to eliminate malicious activity completely, but adds that the university will start using new filters to recognize what might be suspicious emails. “We balance, of course, the free flow of electronic information against the threat or the risk of anything malicious,” says Sanderson. “What happened at the University of (Moncton) is really an indication of people finding new ways almost every day of exploiting technology. And so as IT professionals we’re trying to always be one step ahead of these threats.” CBC