Top Ten

August 10, 2020

Dal CCE, partners launch courses in emerging technologies

Dalhousie University’s College of Continuing Education, the Government of Nova Scotia, and blocksEDU have launched new programming designed to up- and re-skill people in blockchain and sustainable energy technologies. Beginning in September 2020, programs will be offered online and will provide participants with the necessary knowledge to upskill, make a career move, and prepare to write relevant certification exams for each industry. "The team at blocksEDU are experts in these two growing and in-demand industries,” said Dal CCE Dean Dianne Tyers. “We are pleased to partner with blocksEDU to offer learning opportunities that give people a chance to learn new skills in cutting-edge technologies to re-enter the workforce or change careers," Newsfile (NS)

Laval receives over $1.9M to develop climate change training

Université Laval has received over $1.9M from the Government of Québec to develop and implement a training program on climate change geared toward professionals in urban planning, architecture, and engineering. Specifically, the program will provide professionals with an understanding of future climates and their potential effects on both natural and constructed environments, effectively improving their ability to integrate sustainability solutions in their practice. The new program, which will be delivered in the spring 2021 term, will be developed by Laval in collaboration with the Ouranos research consortium and the three professional orders concerned. QC (QC )

Students at SFU launch petition to reinstate pass/fail grading schema

Students at Simon Fraser University are calling on the institution to reinstate the Spring term’s pass/fail grading system for classes this Fall given that online learning is set to continue amid the pandemic. A petition, organized by “concerned students,” has garnered over 3,000 names and argues that performance expectations remain high despite the “stressful and overwhelming” pandemic situation. SFU explained that the previous pass/fail system was instituted due to the rapid, mid-semester transition. However, SFU returned to a traditional grading system at the beginning of the Summer term and extended the withdrawal period for courses to give students more time to assess their comfort with remote learning. Global News (BC)

Queen’s forms committee to lead community consultations about law school building name change

Queen’s University has announced that an advisory committee has been struck to lead consultations to understand whether the university’s law school building should continue under the name of Sir John A Macdonald . The advisory committee—which includes students, faculty, staff, and alumni —will welcome and consider all views presented by members of the community and use them to inform the development of recommendations for the Board of Trustees to consider when making its ultimate decision. “Macdonald’s legacy is complex,” said Mark Walters, Queen’s Dean of the Faculty of Law. “It is now time to ask hard questions about the relationship between the building name and the identity, values, and aspirations of the community that learns and works within the building.” Queen’s Gazette | Whig Standard (ON)

The pandemic will make or break universities: Opinion

“Covid-19 has put immense pressure on all universities,” reports the Economist. “But the problems are about to get particularly severe for those in America, Australia, Canada, and Britain that have come to rely on international students to fill their coffers.” The piece acknowledges international students’ preference for in-person teaching, institutions’ unadjusted or heightened tuition and fees, and the lack of “cultural immersion” in another country as significant deterrents for pursuing international education this year. While the authors conclude that “[some] universities have a few reasons for hope,” they also acknowledge that prospective students may not have much to do amid the pandemic, that the gap year is not enticing to all students, and that institutions typically see an uptick in students during recessions. Nonetheless, this piece concludes that “the next few months are likely to transform the fortunes of many institutions.” The Economist (subscription required) (International)

CSIS warns about academic recruitment programs, Canadian participants refute claims

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has warned the nation’s universities and research institutions that Beijing is allegedly using academic recruitment programs to attain cutting-edge science and technology for economic and military advantage. Specifically, CSIS stated that the Thousand Talents Plan (TTP) is an example of the way China is attempting to get academics to share – either willingly or by coercion – the results of work conducted and financed in Canada. An investigation by The Globe and Mail identified at least 15 Canadian academics who have participated in the program, all of whom “defended the program as mutually beneficial for Canada and China, and said they did not encounter any untoward conduct during their involvement.” Globe and Mail (National)

Pandemic forces Atlantic universities to rethink meal plans, offerings for Fall

Students at some of Atlantic Canada’s universities are expressing disappointment with the cost and limited offerings of campus meal plans, as well as the lack of consultation with student unions and associations regarding such decisions. While plans vary from school to school, and even from campus to campus, common policies include reduced dining spaces, no self-serve food options, and reduced meal plan fees and serving hours. Some more unique plans include Mount Allison University’s institution of a mini food truck to create pop-up barbeques and deliver meals to sick students, and the University of New Brunswick Fredericton’s decision to house students in dorms with private kitchenettes so they can prepare their own meals in light of limited campus food services. CBC (NB)

USherbrooke, Cégep de Sherbrooke launch joint summer program focussed on local prison

The Université de Sherbrooke and Cégep de Sherbrooke have launched a joint summer school, Sherbrooke derrière les barreaux. The summer program will focus on the Sherbrooke Common Prison and incarceration more generally. Students will be divided into five mixed teams which will address different facets related to confinement and crime, such as crime hot spots in Sherbrooke, women and crime, and serious criminals that have marked regional history. The program was made possible due to collaboration with various local partners such as La Société d’histoire de Sherbrooke, le bureau sherbrookois des Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, la Société de sauvegarde de la vieille prison de Sherbrooke, and the Pôle régional en enseignement supérieur de l’Estrie. USherbrooke (QC)

Digital tech program crucial to adaptation, COVID-19 recovery

“Living in a COVID-19 world means businesses and institutions will need to pay more attention to the digital experience they offer,” write OCAD University graduate program director Kate Hartman and Digital Future Undergraduate Chair Nick Puckett. The authors argue that, as we reinvent our lives amid the pandemic, technology, art, and design will undoubtedly play a role in the collective recovery. From creating better, more “natural” feeling videoconferencing technology, to designing wearable tech that can help monitor health, postsecondary programs will be crucial to adapting to our current situation, as well as overcoming COVID-19. “As computer use becomes more ubiquitous and normal, the experiences have to be more interesting,” Puckett states. “It can’t just be about practical functionality. How do we design personality?” OCAD U (ON)

UAlberta men’s, women’s varsity hockey saved due to alumni donations

The University of Alberta has announced that both men’s and women’s hockey will be reinstated for next season due to financial contributions from donors. UAlberta previously suspended hockey, basketball, and volleyball for 2020-21 because of financial pressures wrought by both the COVID-19 pandemic and cutbacks in provincial government funding. However, UAlberta indicated that the Golden Bears and Pandas can “ice” their teams next season due to support from alumni. The Canada West board has approved the teams’ returns, stating that, "if it's determined that a Canada West hockey schedule is possible for this season, we are pleased that the University of Alberta's Golden Bears and Pandas programs will take part." CBC (AB)