Learning

Once Again, Without Data

Jason Haslam, President, Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE)

It has become a common complaint, across the board, that statistics relating to Canadian higher education are sorely lacking or, when they do exist, are misleading–ACCUTE past-president Stephen Slemon has written about this matter on this very blog. Whether it’s in terms of faculty hiring (and of what sorts), student outcome, or relative growth in funding and expenditures between capital projects, administration, and teaching, we’re operating with few details, and often with far fewer facts to work with than our American cousins have at their disposal. Of course, we can still learn from some of those American data points, but we do have to keep the multiple different...

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What are we telling students about the value of the humanities and social sciences?

Nour Aoude, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Our daily work at the Federation is a reminder of how important the humanities and social sciences are to our success as an innovative and democratic society. We know very well that, without the self-reflection and criticism provided by the SSH, our public life and policy-making would be much impoverished.

But is this message being communicated effectively to young people who are deciding what to do next? Are there resources available to high school students explaining the value of a university degree? Do university students understand the important role that the SSH can play in their education?

With some effort, we have managed to find excellent resources for high school and university students. Below are some of our favourites. One thing...

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SSH News: World Philosophy Day, Bartha Knoppers named Grande Montréalaise, recession sends graduates back to school according to study

World Philosophy Day

November 20 is World Philosophy Day, an initiative by UNESCO. The event has been celebrated since 2002. This year’s theme is “Social Transformation and Intercultural Dialogue”. Programmed events for the day, as well as suggestions for how everyone can join the celebration can be found here.

Big Thinking speaker Bartha Knoppers in media

Bartha Knoppers, McGill University professor and Director of the Centre for Genomics and Policy makes the...

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Understanding Video Games: Interview with Professor Sean Gouglas

Nour Aoude, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The most economically important cultural medium out there today, a cultural touchstone for two generations of Canadians, and a fantastic medium for expression, entertainment and social commentary.

This is how Professor Sean Gouglas described video games in his interview with the Federation.

Gouglas is Director of the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Alberta, and Associate Professor in the...

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Out of the ivory tower to the public square: an interview with Shauna Sylvester

Every year, university campuses across the country fill with the hum and excitement of students looking for personally and intellectually transformative experiences. These students represent an unrivalled wealth of social and intellectual capital. Many of them dream of changing the world when they are older, but some universities are encouraging their students to tap into this energy as part of their education.

Key among these institutions is Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. The Federation had the privilege to speak to a leader in community engagement at SFU, Shauna Sylvester, Professor of Professional Practice, Director of the SFU...

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Our President-Elect asks universities to evolve, not transform radically

Jean-Marc Mangin, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

“I love you, please change.”

These words succinctly capture Stephen Toope’s message to Canadian universities in his rich, nuanced and compelling October 2014 report for Taking Action for Canada: Jobs and Skills for the 21st Century. An initiative of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, Taking Action for Canada seeks to bring together educators, governments and businesses to develop solutions and best practices for keeping the next generation of Canadian workers engaged. 

Toope, a scholar of international law, is President-Elect of the Federation. He has also served as President of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, President of the...

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SSH News: Back-to-school reports, opinions, and advice

 

Good news about employment and earnings for university grads

University education is in the spotlight as students across Canada head back to school.

A good news report from The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) confirms that university students in the province are securing well-paying jobs in their field within two years of graduating. Humanities and social science graduates fall within this trend as well. The COU report includes a survey and...

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The towers in the world, the worlds in the towers

Samara Bissonnette

HIGHRISE. An incredibly modern, collaborative, inspiring digital project connecting voices from high rise buildings all over the world. These big concrete mammoths of architecture are "containers of human experience", and this interactive web documentary allows users to discover "the towers in the world, and the worlds in the towers".

The National Film Board, with an extensive team of researchers, creators, academics, digital artists, volunteers and high rise residents, has made the idea of one Katerina Cizek come to life in a project called Highrise that has successfully challenged and reinvented the language of storytelling.

In this exploration of technology and...

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Transformations in graduate education: the future of the PhD

 

Does anyone think the current PhD training in Canada is perfect?  If so, they are a quiet minority; re-imagining PhD training is one of the hottest topics in higher education policy. For example, the most popular post last year on University Affairs’ Margin Notes Blog, was “The PhD is in need of revision”.

Considering how to approach PhD training in the 21st century is important across all disciplines, but the humanities face a particularly urgent problem with non-completion rates as high as 50% and only about 20%-30% of graduates finding employment within the academy.

So it makes sense for the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences to explore this issue at our annual conference, a forum for representatives of the Federation’s member organizations, and other...

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SSH News: Canada’s adult literacy, Freedom to Read Week, Big Thinking

Quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, lecturer and poet, “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” Unfortunately, this paradigm is not universal. Concerns about Canadian literacy have been heightened this week with reports that there is a high number of adults in Canada who lack basic literacy skills. In fact, according to Daniel Munro of the Centre for Skills and PSE “research by the Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education has revealed some troubling gaps between Canadians’ educational attainment and the skills we actually develop” (...

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