Top Ten

May 10, 2019

Central AB career fair reveals shifting student interests for programs, careers

A recent career fair in Central Alberta has revealed the changing landscape of what students are looking for in their post-secondary education and future career. A decade ago, students’ questions were “very much focused on their future and on money,” said Red Deer College President Joel Ward.  “Now, we’re seeing a combination of a good job and maybe making a difference in the world as well.” Ward stated that the college had seen a growing interest in programs focused on the environment, IT, and communications in the digital world. Olds College Registrar and Associate Vice-President of Students Peter Mal added that Olds offers programming in areas such as trades, hospitality, and smart agriculture for a changing agriculture industry. Red Deer Advocate (AB)

Rush for Indigenous hires at universities opens door to failure, impostors: academics  

Some academics have expressed concern to CBC that the rush for new Indigenous hires at universities across Canada might have significant consequences for both applicants and departments. Métis scholar Jenny Ferguson said that hiring committees need to ensure that postings go to Indigenous scholars who serve their communities and participate in local organizing. Linc Kesler, an associate professor of English and Indigenous studies at UBC in Vancouver, added that he has seen committees hire Indigenous professors who are underqualified and unprepared for the rigours of academia. “If there is not a candidate who emerges as a very promising colleague, then suspend the search and search again rather than feel that you are forced into making a choice that you are not confident of,” said Kesler. CBC (National)

Groarke: The problem with open searches for senior administrators

Citing recent criticism of the University of Manitoba’s decision to conduct a closed search for outgoing President David Barnard’s replacement, Leo Groarke argues that open searches are unfair to both applicants and search committees. According to Groarke, closed searches attract a more diverse candidate pool because open searches would raise uncomfortable questions from a high-profile candidate’s current institution. Moreover, internal candidates might shy away from open searches because it makes the details of their career open to public scrutiny. Groarke also questions the efficacy of public consultations, as the public does not have access to details such as confidential comments from references or internal personnel issues. University Affairs (National)

“Less is more”: Tips on reviving the survey course 

According to Kevin Gannon, the fundamental problem with survey courses is that they overload students with content while failing to demonstrate why that content matters. To address this dilemma, the author provides some tips to revitalize the survey course. Gannon suggests that instructors start by structuring the course around one of the discipline’s fundamental questions. An introductory physics course, for instance, might circulate around the question of how the universe works. A theme within that question can help shape the course’s narrative, and from this an instructor can provide a disciplinary “tool kit” that consists of basic methodologies and concepts. Case studies can then act as examples of attempts to answer the course’s fundamental question, concludes the author. Chronicle (International)

U of T vaccine centre to fight anti-vaccine misinformation  

The University of Toronto has launched the Centre for Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, an interdisciplinary hub of academic research and educational practice to better understand and address the growth of preventable illnesses. A U of T release adds that fighting misinformation about vaccines will be central to the Centre’s mission. “Vaccine hesitancy is a highly complex problem because it mirrors the public’s historically low trust in institutions and experts overall,” said the Centre’s Director, Natasha Crowcroft. “With the return of diseases once thought to be eradicated in many countries, we need a much wider group of experts around the table.” U of T | Globe and Mail (ON)

QC must fix tuition gap causing out-of-province grad students to pay more than international students: Barnea

Quebec must put an end to a situation where some international graduate students pay less in tuition than out-of-province Canadians, writes Amir Barnea, an associate professor of finance at HEC Montréal. Barnea explains that due to existing international agreements, French and Franco-Belgian graduate students pay the same tuition fees as local Quebecers, putting them at a lower rate than other Canadians. Because QC benefits from federal transfer payments from other provinces, Barnea argues, it is unfair for out-of-province Canadians to pay more in tuition than international students. Barnea concludes that QC should resolve the situation by lowering tuition for out-of-province graduate students to match that paid by Quebecers, French, and Franco-Belgian students. Montreal Gazette (QC)


Researchers, students from UBCO, TRU, UNBC team up to protect BC’s forested watersheds 

Communities across British Columbia have faced a growing number of emergencies related to its forest watersheds, which is why a multi-university initiative is helping researchers explore the impacts of these forest disturbances. The Disaster Prevention, Response, Recovery and Resilience (Disaster PR3) fund, which is a new initiative from the Interior University Research Coalition (IURC), will see faculty and students from UBC’s Okanagan campus, Thompson Rivers University, and the University of Northern British Columbia—which together make up the IURC—collaborate on three research projects that will examine natural disturbances and their impacts on various watershed processes in forests, hillside slopes, and crown land. UBCO (BC)

Coca-Cola suppressed health research: Cambridge study 

Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered that health research funded by Coca-Cola included provisions that allowed the soft drink giant to quash any findings it considered unfavorable. According to CBC, the company cancelled several studies between 2015 and 2018 without providing any rationale for doing so. “Big multinationals have pledged transparency.... What we see here is evidence that those wonderful PR statements don’t actually measure up to what's in the legal documents that researchers sign,” said Sarah Steele, the author of the Cambridge study. John Sievenpiper, a professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, said that Coca-Cola was amenable to rewording a grant that he found restrictive. CBC (International)

ÉTS opens tech entrepreneurship hub at Montreal’s Dow Planetarium building 

École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) has opened a technology entrepreneurship incubator in Montreal’s Dow Planetarium. Maud Cucchi reports that the new centre, named Centech, provides a unique work environment for entrepreneurs in the early stages of their projects. Centech General Manager Ricahrd Chénier adds that ÉTS chose this well-known Montreal building as its incubator for entrepreneurs because of “the building’s scientific character” and “the connection that will be forged between innovation and new technologies.” Cucchi notes that the two years of renovations spent on the building have cost $11M, a little over half of which was subsidized by Quebec’s education ministry and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. University Affairs (QC)

UQAM CEF receives $3.6M for forest research 

The Université de Québec à Montréal’s Centre d'étude de la forêt (CEF) has obtained $3.6M in funding over six years from the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT). The funding is the maximum amount awarded as an infrastructure grant for Strategic Clusters such as the CEF. CEF Co-Director Pierre Drapeau stated that the funding is recognition of the centre’s work in basic research, forest ecosystems research, and implementation of new strategies and planning practices. The grant will be used to consolidate CEF’s activities, including student participation in symposia, organization of thematic workshops, and international faculty mobility. UQAM (QC)