News from the social sciences and humanities: Summits on Higher Education, MOOCs and royal babies

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Milena Stanoeva Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Over the past several weeks, the Parti Quebecois held its pre-Summit on Higher Education panels to discuss funding for the province’s universities. Upon taking office in September, the PQ announced that it will continue the province’s tuition freeze, cancelling the tuition hikes that launched student protests across the province last spring. The PQ promised to hold three pre-summits leading to a main Summit on Higher Education in February to discuss the $32M funding shortage that the province’s universities are facing with the cancellation of the tuition hikes. The issue was compounded by last week’s directive to universities to cut $140M from their budgets by next April.

With the rise of MOOCs (massive open online courses) and TEDx-style public lectures, a debate has surfaced about how these new education platforms will impact the viability of the traditional university model, and in particular the humanities. Commentators worry that if industry-controlled MOOCs come to be seen and recognized as the equivalent of a university education, public funding for the humanities would dry up completely, while STEM disciplines would survive on industry funding.

Last week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced that they were expecting a baby, which would be third in line for the throne of England. The Ottawa Citizen featured an article by James W. J. Bowden, an MA student, and Philippe Lagassé, a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa, on the constitutionality of succession to the throne of Canada. Per their findings, the constitution only mentions the “office of the Queen,” so any succession by a male heir would require a constitutional amendment for the monarch to be recognized in Canada.

Photo courtesy of Defence Images on Flickr.


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