Top Ten

November 13, 2017

UBC seeks feedback on freedom-of-expression statement

The University of British Columbia has announced that it will release the draft version of a new freedom-of-expression statement in order to solicit feedback from the community. The decision came only one day after the university said that it had shelved the document. A number of administrators and faculty who collaborated on the document were reportedly surprised to learn the university was shelving it. The Globe and Mail reports that the roughly 1,050-word statement “makes clear that it is difficult for 10 people to settle on how to balance the freedoms and responsibilities of speech on a Canadian university campus – suggesting that perhaps a balance is not even possible.” Globe and Mail

Research group calls for end of Canada’s criminal ban on CRISPR gene-editing research

Canada is among the few countries in the world where working with the CRISPR gene-editing system is a criminal offence, and the Stem Cell Network has called on the federal government to lift the prohibition. “It’s a human-reproduction law, it was never meant to ban and slow down and restrict research,” said University of Montreal bioethicist Vardit Ravitsky. “It’s a sort of historical accident … and now our hands are tied.” The panel stated that the potential of the technology is “huge” and that the theoretical risks are often overstated. However, the call to lift the prohibition has led to controversy and debate among those at the conference where the call was announced. National Post

Canada must make Asia a priority in all levels of education: Kwan

Canada is not prepared to forge a closer relationship with Asia, writes Justin Kwan. The author cites a new joint study by the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa and the Munk School of Global Affairs which concludes that “relationships with emerging countries” – including, most prominently, Asia-Pacific countries – “are becoming increasingly important to Canada’s prosperity.” Kwan notes that Canada must take concrete national-level action in the same way that the US and Australia have done to create an “Asia competent” citizenry. This national effort would include incentivizing more students to study abroad in Asia, as well as a K-12 curriculum that builds a foundation of knowledge about Asia, stimulates curiosity, and sparks a desire to learn more about the region. Globe and Mail

NAIT partnership looks to develop low-carbon diesel alternative

The development of new technology will allow long-haul trucks to produce significantly lower carbon emissions, thanks to a new partnership between Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Mack Trucks, Oberon Fuels, and Westcan Bulk Transport. Funded with $368K from the Government of Alberta, the project will see researchers in the School of Applied Sciences and Technology at NAIT work to develop a cleaner-burning diesel fuel alternative that can be made from natural gas or methanol produced from biomass feedstock, such as wood chips. “As a leading polytechnic, NAIT supports applied research and technology-based education in areas critical to Alberta – a primary focus being the energy sector,” says NAIT President Glenn Feltham. NAIT

Rest of the public just as conflicted about free speech as students: study

Despite the widespread lamenting of “snowflake” students who are unable to handle ideas that make them uncomfortable, a new US-based study from Bucknell University suggests that the rest of the public is just as conflicted about the topic of free speech. 78% of the study’s respondents agreed that “in order to promote intellectual engagement, colleges should never prohibit speech for any reason.” However, 55% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans agreed that colleges should be able to restrict speech that is sexist. When asked about colleges restricting the teaching of “radical ideas,” 65% of Republicans agreed and 41% of Democrats agreed. The study’s lead author Chris Ellis says that the data shows that it is unfair to imply or argue that a lack of appreciation for free speech is unique to current PSE students. Inside Higher Ed

MUN water main break results in big bill, students drawing water from hydrants

A water main break outside of a residence at the St John's campus of Memorial University could cost up to $150K, according to CBC. The approximately 1,000 students who live in the affected residence network had access to water through hoses connected to fire hydrants while the water lines were turned off for repairs. “The initial plan was to do repairs while students were gone for Christmas break, but the leak deteriorated to the point where we had to initiate the repair last week,” said MUN spokesperson Dave Sorensen, who noted that a minor leak was found in August. CBC

PSE institutions in London, ON partner to open free mental health crisis centre

PSE students in London, Ontario will now have “game-changing” access to mental health crisis support thanks to a new free walk-in clinic. Offered in partnership between Canadian Mental Health Association-Middlesex (CMHA-Middlesex), King’s University College, Fanshawe College, and Western University, the clinic will provide confidential mental health support three evenings a week with funding from the London Community Foundation. “This recognizes the dire need some students have, particularly during high-stress times such as exams and end of semester,” said Cynthia Gibney, Director of Western’s Student Health Services. “Mental-health issues among young people have become a real problem, not just at Western but at postsecondary institutions across Canada, and we need to provide supports that make sense for them during tumultuous times.” London Free Press (1) | London Free Press (2) | Western

UCalgary opens world-class microbiome facility

The University of Calgary has officially opened a world-class centre designed to mobilize groundbreaking research into the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Funded through Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Government of Alberta, and the Cumming School of Medicine, the International Microbiome Centre will provide cutting-edge tools to study the microbiome, allowing the university to be a leader in this evolving field of research. “The opening of the International Microbiome Centre represents a tremendous step forward in our capacity to deliver world-class research in this emerging field,” says UCalgary President Elizabeth Cannon. UCalgary | Waterloo Region Record

Canadian students pursue overseas MBAs for international networking, work opportunities

Interest in travel, international networking opportunities, and working abroad after graduation have driven some Canadian students to pursue top-ranked MBA programs outside the country, reports the Globe and Mail, and this has created a demand for strong Canadian candidates among foreign business schools. The article highlights the experiences of many Canadian students that pursued MBAs abroad at institutions such as the University of Oxford and HEC Paris. These students go on to describe the impact that this international experience had on their education, vocational choices, and personal understanding of the world. Globe and Mail

Brescia signs MOU with International School St Lucia

Brescia University College in London, Ontario has grown its international partnerships through a new agreement with the International School St Lucia. The new MOU will allow ISSL students who have successfully completed the necessary undergraduate requirements to qualify for automatic admission into one of Brescia’s undergraduate programs. “We are so pleased to officially recognize our long-standing partnership with the community of St. Lucia by collaborating with the International School St. Lucia through this new pathway,” says Brescia Vice-Principal Students Marianne Simm. Brescia