Top Ten

April 7, 2021

Top scientists propose creation of public health network based at UOttawa

A group of top scientists have proposed to restore the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) to its status as an internationally respected pandemic surveillance system. Grant Robertson of The Globe and Mail reports that the idea is backed by both WHO and the University of Ottawa’s Bruyère Research Institute, which would house GPHIN. The move would provide a stable and cost-effective environment in which to manage the GPHIN while helping it achieve independence from government interference. If the proposal is successful, the GPHIN will be allowed to run as a non-profit, which will allow it to receive grants in addition to partial funding from the federal government. “GPHIN has achieved world-wide recognition as a rapid provider of accurate information regarding a variety of global events of public health importance,” the proposal says. “Future versions of GPHIN must build on and maintain this pre-eminent position.” The Globe and Mail (National)

Faculty pen editorials on how to address anti-Asian racism

In response to recent news stories on anti-Asian racism, several faculty across North America have written editorials about how postsecondary institutions can address anti-Asian racism. University of Toronto professors Robert Diaz and Hae Yeon Choo describe ways that universities can go beyond making statements against anti-Asian racism to address systemic racism within the universities. The authors’ suggestions include recognizing that anti-Asian incidents can create strong emotions within community members, addressing underrepresentation within the institution, supporting scholarship that dismantles anti-Asian racism, and broadly challenging anti-Asian racism. Min Hyoung Song of the US-based Boston College describes the importance of Asian American studies in understanding racism and giving a voice to marginalized perspectives. “We must insist, without apology, that the capaciously defined study of race — which includes Asian Americans as members of a racial minority — is an essential part of the university’s mission,” writes Song. Inside Higher Ed | Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

QC should host a national institute for teacher training: Opinion

A national institute exclusively dedicated to teacher training should be created to train teachers in Quebec, writes Université du Québec en Outaouais professor Jérôme St-Amand. The author describes how prior to the 1960s, teachers were trained in normal schools. After normal schools were abolished in 1964, the Ministry of Education created an education system that would train teachers. St-Amand explains that QC teachers today often quit the profession before completing even five years of experience, and attributes this to inadequate training. The author questions why faculties of education are given the responsibility of training teachers, and instead calls for the development of a national institute dedicated to teacher training, in which students can work with experienced experts. Journal de Montréal (QC)

SAIT launches two vision-care programs, invests $1M in optical lab

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s School of Health and Public Safety has created two vision-care sciences programs and invested $1M in an optical lab to meet industry needs. SAIT collaborated with members of industry to create the Optician Diploma program and the Ophthalmic and Optometric Assisting Certificate program. Students in the certificate program will have the opportunity to ladder into the diploma program. Students in both programs will have access to hands-on training in the state-of-the-art optical lab. “The technology-focused curriculum and lab space means graduates will hit the ground running and thrive in almost any eye-care, patient-focused environment,” said SAIT Vision Care Sciences Academic Chair Shay Gornshtein. SAIT (AB)

Negotiating job offers during the COVID-19 pandemic: Opinion

Negotiating academic job offers has become more challenging and complex during the COVID-19, writes Karen Kelsky. The author explains that though there are a variety of challenges associated with completing the interview and virtual campus interview process over Zoom, institutions tend not to rescind offers. Kelsky discusses key considerations, such as the institution type, issues related to remote teaching and relocation, and amount of time the interviewee will have to consider the offer. In conclusion, the author suggests that candidates know their worth, know the limitations and abilities of the institution, and keep their demands realistic. Chronicle of Higher Ed (International)

Centennial joins SONAMI to support SMEs

Centennial College has joined the Niagara College-led Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI). The partnership assists small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in various industries through providing facilities, technologies, and expertise. Centennial will add its capacity in aerospace and aviation to the centralized SONAMI hub through its Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Services (ARIES). “Centennial College is honoured to have been chosen to join SONAMI,” said Jonathan Hack, executive director, ARIES. “We look forward to working with local industry partners and the other academic institutions in the SONAMI network to help SMEs in Southern Ontario develop their technologies in advanced manufacturing.” Niagara (ON)

UCalgary launches data EDI dashboard to provide community with access to key metrics, data

The University of Calgary’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has launched an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) dashboard. The EDI dashboard is designed for use by students, faculty, and staff, and includes key metrics and data that can be used to identify gaps and inform policy and procedures at the university. “We can act on what we track,” said Dr Malinda Smith, UCalgary vice-provost (equity, diversity and inclusion). “Data can help reveal systemic inequities, the hidden barriers and obstacles that may block entry to the academy for historically under-represented groups. It can help identify diversity gaps, pay gaps, obstacles to entry or hurdles to promotion for specific groups.” UCalgary (AB)

Columbia launches paid externship program

International students at Columbia College will now have the opportunity to participate in paid work experience with non-profit organizations, thanks to the launch of a paid externship program. The Community Connections program, which Columbia says is the first program of its kind at a university transfer college, recently completed a pilot where students held placements at five local partner organizations. The College pays for the employment costs of student placements through the program. “One of the barriers facing aspiring students from around the world for successful participation in the Canadian economy is opportunities for work experience,” said Mark Friesen, Executive Director of community and charitable programming at the College. “With a mission to equip students to make a positive impact on communities, it’s very important for the College to expose our students to the non-profit sector.” Columbia College (BC)

UAlberta biojet technology receives $2.89M

Biojet technology created by the University of Alberta will be receiving a $2.89M investment in its biojet technology projects from Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Innovation Program. “The funding sets us up for the next decade of supporting the sector,” said lead researcher and UAlberta Professor Dr David Bressler. “Biojet fuel is the quickest, easiest and most effective strategy to meet increasing emission standards in the near future.” Renewables Now reports that the funding will support the Alberta Biojet Initiative in the development of pathways to create renewable jet fuel, which has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation industry by 90%. Renewables Now | India Education Diary | UAlberta (AB)

The value of public scholarship work on social media: Opinion

The academy needs to value the public scholarship work that academics do, writes Angel M Jones. The author explains writing on social media does not get credit in the academy, even though this kind of writing can go viral and reach a wider audience. Jones details the impact that academics can have on social media in hopes that the academy will recognize public scholarship’s significance. The article describes public scholarship’s significant reach, increased accessibility, potential use as an academic resource, and the ability to engage with current conversations. Jones also discusses how engaging with readers and being challenged by them is a rewarding part of public scholarship. Inside Higher Ed (International)