News from the social sciences and humanities: Quebec, student mental health and the environment

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Milena Stanoeva Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Parti Québecois, headed by Pauline Marois, has won the premiership in Quebec, ousting the Liberal party by a narrow margin. Pauline Marois had promised students she would repeal the tuition hikes that sparked protests earlier in the year, but commentators question whether or not her party can achieve this with a minority government. Antonia Maioni, CFHSS’s president-elect, wrote an analysis of what the PQ victory will mean for Quebec in Wednesday’s Globe and Mail.

A study from the University of Toronto attempted to determine how students decide which majors to take when starting university. The researchers found that enrollment in most fields rose and fell as wage expectations in those fields rose and fell. However, enrollment in social sciences majors rose as wage expectations fell. Miles Corak, of the Globe and Mail, cautions that choosing a four-year program based on the reported earnings of people who have already graduated is not necessarily the best strategy, as the labour market tends to shift, creating surpluses of job seekers in fields where there was previously a shortage.

Macleans reported on the “mental health crisis on campus” this week. According to the article, last year, mental health professionals on campuses across the country experienced a spike in demand for services. Experts speculate that students starting university face stronger pressure to perform, with less certainty about their futures, and are ill-prepared to handle the stress of university.

The US National Research Council has released a report advising the Environmental Protection Agency to integrate the social sciences more in its efforts to address the environmental challenges of the coming decades. According to the report, the social sciences are needed to address the human dimension of environmental concerns.


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