Top Ten

October 31, 2022

YorkU, UVic, VIU release sustainability-focused action plans

York University, the University of Victoria, and Vancouver Island University have recently released action plans or statements focused on environmental sustainability. YorkU has committed to achieving net-zero and a 45% reduction in direct and indirect emissions by 2030, and has invested $1M into advancing sustainable innovation. The University of Victoria has released its first sustainability plan to “reach every corner of campus” by going beyond established sustainability units and initiatives to involve students, staff, faculty, and the broader community. VIU recently released a position statement focused on climate action and sustainability, and added that the university had recently signed the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Accord. YorkU | UVic | VIU (BC | ON)

U of T receives Schmidt Futures donation for AI research

Schmidt Futures has announced an investment of $148M into nine universities from around the world for AI research, including the University of Toronto, which was the only Canadian university represented in the network. The investment has established the Eric and Wendy Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, which supports early-career scholars with an annual stipend of $100K, training and workshops, and participation in the Global Meeting Series to promote the adoption of AI in STEM research. The fellowship also seeks to foster connections between scholars trained in AI by providing them with visits to interdisciplinary scientific centres and collaboration opportunities with other participating universities. U of T will host 10 fellows in the first year and 20 every year after and the initiative will be led by senior faculty Dr Alán Aspuru-Guzik and Dr Lisa Strug. Eurekalert | U of T | Forbes (ON)

USask launches Bachelor of Science in Food Industry Management degree

The University of Saskatchewan has launched a Bachelor of Science in Food Industry Management degree. In this interdisciplinary program, students will learn about food science, agri-food economics, food management practices, and food industry policy, and will be able to participate in experiential learning opportunities. The degree will be offered through the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, but will include classes from the Department of Food and Bioproduct Sciences and the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “There is strong demand for graduates with a scientific background in food science together with expertise in business and marketing for private sector and government jobs,” said USask Food and Bioproduct Sciences department head Dr Darren Korber. USask (SK)

Memorial, QC announce new chair in Qikiqtani Inshore Fisheries Science, Training and Education

Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute has partnered with Qikiqtaaluk Corporation to establish a new chair in Qikiqtani Inshore Fisheries Science, Training and Education. Qikiqtaaluk Corporation is supporting the chair with $500K Marine Institute research scientist Dr Scott Grant will be the inaugural holder of the chair and will conduct community-based research in four Qikiqtani region communities in support of food security and commercial development. “We are offering our experience in emerging fisheries research and development to these communities to help guide them through the regulatory process, based on the wishes and decisions of the communities themselves,” said Grant. Nation Talk | Memorial (NL)

How cluster hiring can promote institutional change: Opinion

In a recent article for Inside Higher Ed, Elizabeth H Simmons and Becky R Petitt discuss the results of a cluster hiring initiative at their institution that focused on minority populations. Simmons and Petitt write on the importance of faculty engagement and enthusiasm, intentionally inviting minority faculty to participate in the process, and ensuring transparency around the cluster hiring plan. While some searches had to be repeated or took “time to jell,” the authors say that the initial results have been encouraging and the program is playing an important role in the university’s broader efforts toward equity, diversity, and inclusion. Inside Higher Ed (Acct. Req.) (Editorial)

AB financial support charity calls for more oversight on private career colleges

Momentum, an Albertan financial support charity, has released a report calling on the Government of Alberta to better monitor private career colleges (PCCs). The report was based on an analysis of 4,400 negative PCC Google reviews and a focus group of 37 people. It identified 190 PCCs across the province and found that many PCC students had experienced high-pressure sales tactics pushing them to enroll, with many reporting that they were not given the correct information about the full cost of their degrees. Officials from the National Association of Career Colleges stated that colleges are licensed by governments, and that most (70%) of PCC graduate reviews were positive. AB Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides stated that they are investigating the allegations of system abuse. The report included a number of recommendations, including increasing oversight, better regulations around advertising, and requiring background checks for owners of PCCs. iHeartRadio | CTV | CBC | Momentum (Report) (AB)

Southeast, URegina sign MOU focused on expanding community-based PSE

Southeast College and the University of Regina have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to pursue their common interest in expanding community-based postsecondary education. The MOU is focused on meeting the educational, economic, and labour needs of Saskatchewan's southeast region by expanding certificate and micro-credential programs in sustainable energy, launching collaborative undergraduate and graduate programming, and establishing an Applied Research and Sustainable Innovation Centre. Southeast President Dr Vicky Roy praised the partnership, stating that “this type of collaboration is essential for ensuring continued access to post-secondary education in rural Saskatchewan.” Southeast | SaskToday (SK)

Higher education should focus on “renewal” rather than “innovation:” Opinion

Higher education needs to focus on how those who are working within the sector are already contributing rather than looking to “disruptive innovation,” writes Kevin Gannon. Gannon argues that “innovation” is often used to mean something new, but that the root verb suggests a “renewal” rather than the creation of a brand-new effort or initiative. With this in mind, rather than expecting someone to come from outside with an innovative idea, institutions should look at who is already doing renewal work from within. The author encourages educators to ask questions about who has been particularly successful in their teaching techniques and expand on these team members’ work by fostering presence and creating and sustaining a culture of belonging in the classroom. Chronicle of Higher Ed (Acct. Req.) (Editorial)

King’s officially celebrates relaunch of Centre for Interreligious Learning and Dialogue

King’s University College has officially celebrated the relaunch of the Centre for Interreligious Learning and Dialogue (CILD). The CILD’s name was changed from the Centre for Jewish-Catholic-Muslim Learning to reflect greater inclusivity, and the centre’s scope now includes all religious traditions. Centre director Dr Julius-Kei Kato explained that the centre’s aim is to “help further learning about various traditions by creating venues in which people of these faiths can represent themselves to others, thus reducing the sense of alienation often felt among adherents of different religious traditions.” The centre will provide educational opportunities and will foster a deeper understanding of a variety of religious heritages within the community. King’s (ON)

While Canada remains top study destination, Australia sees climb in popularity: Editorial

In an article for University World News, Kalinga Seneviratne discusses a recent report on Australia’s rising popularity as an international study destination. Australia reopened its borders in November 2021 and is reportedly on track to be the second most popular postsecondary study destination in the world. While Canada remains the most popular top destination, as selected by one-quarter of surveyed students, Australia’s popularity as first-choice has climbed since March 2022. The country is particularly popular in Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and is viewed as a safe country for international students. Representatives from Australia commented that the country could advance its competitiveness by diversifying offerings and creatively differentiating itself from competitor countries. University World News (Editorial)