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Students use STEM skills to brew the perfect pint

Students use STEM skills to brew the perfect pint

Saveurs de génie brings together student microbrew clubs, microbreweries and beer enthusiasts.
By PIERRE BLAIS | DEC 13 2018
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                    [post_content] => Last month, I urged that we must better understand academic freedom if we wish to support the scholarly mission of universities and the scholarly personnel charged with advancing that mission. In this dispatch, my second in this series, we begin to undertake this task with a survey of the history of academic freedom.

Academic freedom is one of the pillars of the modern university, and yet it is a comparatively new concept. The universities founded in the 10th and 11th centuries in the Middle East and North Africa fostered remarkable diversity in scholarly approaches. However, the concept of academic freedom was not codified there. Moreover, the de facto academic freedom these institutions cultivated was destroyed in later centuries by European colonization.

Academic freedom re-emerged in early 19th century Germany with the Prussian reform and the so-called Humboldtian university. Wilhelm von Humboldt’s educational reforms enshrined the twin concepts of Lehrfreiheit (freedom to teach) and Lernfreiheit (freedom to learn) under the rubric of Akademische Freiheit (academic freedom). So swift was the effect of this reform that by 1898, celebrated American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce in a lecture at Harvard unfavorably compared U.S. universities, which he regarded as mere training institutions, with German universities, whose commitment to advancing knowledge made them, in Peirce’s words, “the light of the whole world.”

The rise of the Third Reich led to the end of academic freedom (and the accompanying principle of institutional autonomy) in Germany. Hitler declared universal education “the most corroding and disintegrating poison.” He appointed Bernard Rust, a former schoolmaster, as Minister of Education. Rust selected the rectors for German universities, and announced that “the future basis for all studies in German universities would be the Nazi racial theories.” Fifteen hundred faculty members across the country were dismissed. By 1939, 45 percent of German faculty members had been replaced by Nazis.

Fortunately, by this time, academic freedom had begun to take root in America. In 1915, the nascent American Association of University Professors (AAUP) endorsed a statement of principles on academic freedom and academic tenure known as the “1915 Declaration of Principles.” That statement reprised the Humboldtian assertion of the freedom to teach and the freedom to learn, but, in light of the AAUP’s remit, confined itself to the former. On the AAUP’s (1915) account, the freedom to teach comprises three subsidiary freedoms: freedom of inquiry and research; freedom of teaching within the university or college; and freedom of extra-mural utterance and action. The 1915 statement is extraordinarily useful, but long. In 1925, the American Council on Education (which included the AAUP in its membership) formulated the shorter “1925 Conference Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure.” From 1934 to 1940, the AAUP worked with the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities) on a further restatement of the principles. The result of this work is the “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” which – with some interpretations added in 1970 by a joint committee of the AAUP and AAC – remains the AAUP’s official academic freedom statement, and one of the most important and influential codifications of academic freedom. Today, around 250 scholarly and professional associations in the U.S. endorse the 1940 statement.

The 1940 statement retains the 1915 statement’s focus on the three main freedoms that fall under the rubric of academic freedom. Each of them in turn is addressed in the three main principles articulated in the 1940 statement:
  1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.
  2. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.
  3. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) was formed in 1951, and in early days focused primarily on bargaining for better compensation for faculty members. However, in 1959, United College (now University of Winnipeg) professor Harry Crowe was fired for criticizing the institution in a private letter; in response, CAUT seriously took up the defense of academic freedom. In the years following the Harry Crowe case, CAUT supported its member faculty associations across the country in introducing language about academic freedom into their collective agreements. Today, most Canadian collective agreements between faculty associations and universities feature similar CAUT boilerplate language about academic freedom. One of the most distinctive phrases in that boilerplate informs the reader that “academic freedom does not require neutrality on the part of the individual; rather, academic freedom makes commitment possible.” In 1993, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to devise and adopt an international standard-setting recommendation on the status of higher education teaching personnel. President Ronald Reagan had in 1984 withdrawn the U.S. from UNESCO. Looking for North American leadership from outside the U.S., UNESCO turned to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which seconded CAUT executive director Donald Savage as an expert for the project. The result is UNESCO’s 1997 “Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel.” The UNESCO Recommendation expresses “pressing concern regarding the vulnerability of the academic community to untoward political pressures which could undermine academic freedom” and asserts “that the right to education, teaching and research can only be fully enjoyed in an atmosphere of academic freedom and autonomy for institutions of higher education and that the open communication of findings, hypotheses and opinions lies at the very heart of higher education and provides the strongest guarantee of the accuracy and objectivity of scholarship and research.” In 2011, on its 100th anniversary, Universities Canada issued a new academic freedom statement that, in addition to sketching the key academic freedoms, explains why academic freedom is important for society, and disambiguates between academic freedom and freedom of speech: “Unlike the broader concept of freedom of speech, academic freedom must be based on institutional integrity, rigorous standards for enquiry and institutional autonomy, which allows universities to set their research and educational priorities.” The new statement came under fire from some critics – most notably CAUT – for its silence on extramural expression and the freedom to criticize the university. Much of the tension between CAUT and Universities Canada reflects the distinct perspectives and desiderata of, respectively, employees and employers. However, the disagreement also tracks a broader shift in thinking about academic freedom – to wit, the shift from the “traditional model” to the “socially engaged” model. The traditional model of academic freedom obtained from 19th century Germany went well into the 20th century. On that model, scholars are academically free to pursue and disseminate research in their field of expertise within scholarly fora. Late in the 20th century, however, the new socially engaged model began to emerge. This model defends scholars’ expressive freedom outside of their disciplines and outside of scholarly fora. The motivation for the new model is that professors are often sought by the public for their wisdom on broader social questions. I often observe that we want our Einsteins to be able to go beyond physics and discuss world peace in public, if they wish to do so. If engaging with the public is indeed part of the job of the professor, the argument goes, then universities ought to protect professors who take up the task. Today, which particular model of academic freedom we ought to embrace is contested internally within the postsecondary sector. However, academic freedom tout court is also subject to continued attacks from external forces. From Nazi and Soviet purges to the removal of tenure in Thatcherite Britain, authoritarian governments have historically encroached on academic freedom. Today, we are seeing new attacks in such places as Turkey, Poland, Hungary, the United States, and Ontario. We’ll look at current threats to academic freedom in a future dispatch in this series. [post_title] => A brief history of academic freedom [post_excerpt] => If engaging with the public is indeed part of the job of the professor, then universities ought to protect professors who take up the task. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => a-brief-history-of-academic-freedom [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-12-10 14:31:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-12-10 19:31:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.universityaffairs.ca/?post_type=dispatches&p=52026 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => dispatches [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [meta_robots] => ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 51196 [post_author] => 3 [post_date] => 2018-09-21 10:10:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-21 14:10:03 [post_content] => When you imagine what goes on in university research centres, you probably don't think of scientists doing boring predictable things.  Indeed, the romanticized version of academic would suggest that scientists are constantly trying new ideas, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and that out from this process (on a global scale at least) emerges knowledge that explains how the world around us works or translates into useful, practical things for the betterment of society. My concern, and the topic of this entry, is that I believe the career structure of the current academic system is actively set up against this idealized version of research – it rewards short-term deliverables rather than high-risk, high-reward research. During my 15 years in research, I would actually argue that some of the most special scientists have been pushed out of the field not because of their ideas or work ethic but rather as the result of not having enough published research papers – this makes me sad for the future of science, especially when these decisions aren't based on the ability or desire to do the research. There are several reasons for this that Jonathan and I have explored over the years including the focus on individual scientists (as if they were rock stars), the metrics used to evaluate/rank scientists, and the politics of publishing. In short, we have a lot of problems to fix, which in turn makes it difficult to drive change, so I thought I would try and use some aspects of my own career journey to illustrate the problem. The problem with risky projects is that they often take time (and they often don't work). Time to think of, time to develop tools, and time to execute. This sits in almost direct contrast with the low hanging fruit approach where you take the next obvious question in your field and answer it. A big problem with the latter approach is that if it is the obvious next step, you can bet that someone else is doing it as well. In my first three years running a research group, we've done alright with the bread and butter of our lab (straightforward, and dare I suggest "predictable", research outcomes) and this gives us the bandwidth to explore some new topics. I've been fortunate to obtain a second pot of money for these "risky" experiments (we're combining biophysics approaches with stem cell biology), but in the absence of this second pot (and an additional two years of time), I'd be absolutely silly to pursue this non-traditional line of thinking since my job relies on research output (read: "papers") not "new ideas" or 'interesting approaches." Does this mean if a young scientist (I use the term loosely since I'm late 30s now!) doesn't get two sizeable starting grants, they can't take on risky projects? It certainly seems this way. You might call the above approach a scientist's version of hedging (split the lab into some "safe" and some "risky" projects) and for me, it's about survival. Without a new grant, I don't actually even have a job at my university, so the word "risky" takes on a new meaning. I'm not unique – in fact our entire floor of labs at the Cambridge Stem Cell Institute is comprised of early career researchers running labs with with no salary money (for themselves or their people) beyond the length of their externally awarded grants (typically four to five years). Our employees and students have no future security beyond these grants, and we don't either. The university commits nothing, but tolerates our presence whilst we are useful. Questions we are forced to ponder are "Why would someone join the lab in our final year(s) if there is no guarantee that the lab would even exist in 12 months time?" The flip side is that the resources and opportunities are incredible here, and you can really sense that if you left your lab space, it would be filled with somebody else's temporary money in a heartbeat. PS: It's a great time to have kids. So, what do you do? You look at the list of things that are essential to get done and you map out the shortest and easiest path to ensure that you are achieving them (this isn't an easy process!). The reality of such a process is that "big new ideas" often fall into the "maybe later" pile since they might not deliver and might not check the box that you need to have checked to survive. There is a strong disincentive to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects. This brings me to another area where the system is set up to discourage risk and learning – doctoral training. There is an incredible amount of chat about the length of PhD programs in North America (main messages: it's far too long, and a waste of one's 20s). However, there is another side to this: a short PhD isn't necessarily a good thing either. Anecdotally, I value the length of my PhD enormously (5.5 years) – it gave me the time and space to have failures and to learn from them without jeopardizing my chance to graduate. I now supervise students in PhD programs that are mandated to be three to four years in length and I can see a huge difference in the pressure and strategic thinking that results – everybody needs a safe, publishable story as a top priority and anything else is a bonus. Go for the risky option and you might graduate your PhD with no paper and, in some cases, no academic future. In the absence of line items on a CV – how do we best evaluate (and push forward) the best and brightest young scientists? The answer at this stage is that we don't typically bother to do so beyond looking at a CV and pedigree (i.e., which research group you have come from). I know I've been lucky in my own journey and I've seen numerous people much smarter than me that deserve (and do not ever get) the same opportunity – my plea is that we rigorously examine our career structure to try and reward inventive thinking and not simply push people forward for producing data in the next most obvious place and reward them for doing it faster than someone else. [post_title] => Scientists can’t take risks until they are in their 40s [post_excerpt] => The current academic career structure rewards short-term deliverables rather than high-risk, high-reward research. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => scientists-cant-take-risks-until-they-are-in-their-40s [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-20 10:17:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-20 15:17:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.universityaffairs.ca/?post_type=the-black-hole&p=51196 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => the-black-hole [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 3 [filter] => raw [meta_robots] => ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 50161 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2018-08-29 09:30:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-29 13:30:12 [post_content] => I am a student at a Canadian university. Two weeks after classes started last fall, I was sexually assaulted. My story is unsettling and, sadly, all too common. Since my purpose in writing this essay is not to point fingers, but simply to share what I experienced when I asked various authorities at my university for help, I prefer to remain anonymous. When I woke up that autumn morning, I realized that my life had changed forever, that I would never be the same person. My first thought was that I should go to my university’s help centre, which has a team of counsellors and a medical clinic. I was very emotional and unable to speak, so I typed on my phone: “Last night I was sexually assaulted. I’d like to get some help” and showed it to the receptionist. A few minutes later, a counsellor invited me to follow her into her office to talk in private. Greatly relieved, I accepted. She listened very carefully to me and asked me questions about my feelings and the previous night. She reassured me and tried to lessen my feelings of guilt. This counsellor was an invaluable support at a crucial time. Then she took me to the medical clinic located on campus. After a very brief wait, I found myself in the examination room. Even accompanied by the counsellor, I was uncomfortable with the nurse, who was very brusque and spoke loudly. A gentler tone and manner would have been appreciated. After I explained what had happened, she asked me in what I took as an accusatory tone how much alcohol I had consumed. I felt judged and even more guilty. Her behaviour made me wonder if going to the clinic was the right thing to do, and my feelings of guilt escalated. After this conversation, I was relieved to finally speak with the doctor. Not sensing any judgment from him, I felt more comfortable telling him my story. He explained that the next step would be to take a sexual assault evidence kit in case I was planning to press charges. While I still hadn’t decided about pressing charges, I thought the rape kit was a good idea. Since the clinic was unable to administer the tests required for the kit, the doctor asked me which hospital I preferred to go to. I chose the one in my neighbourhood. I then took a taxi to the hospital. Once again, I was quickly admitted into the examination room and the doctor listened carefully to my responses to his questions. At the end of my account, he explained to me that he couldn’t do the forensic exams required for the sexual assault evidence kit, as there was only one hospital in the area that was equipped to collect this evidence. I could sense his annoyance with the first doctor. It was understandable, given that he practises at a clinic accustomed to dealing with this type of situation and that this information should have been common knowledge. It had already been an extremely painful day, and I did not feel like retelling my story. I just wanted to go home and cry before I did anything else. The only thing keeping me from doing just that was my concern for my physical health. I went to the hospital where the specialized centre was located, and the reception I got from the staff there was phenomenal. The week following the sexual assault was like a roller-coaster ride. I couldn’t stay in my neighbourhood due to the proximity to my attacker (my fingers still shake when I write that word), or even remain in the same city. I got away as soon as I could. I tried to forget the previous few days. I didn’t want the incident to define me or to give the perpetrator any power over my life. I worked hard on it. But I had to come back to reality: the term was under way and I already had a number of assignments to hand in. Between my job, my appointments with various counsellors and my concerns about my physical and mental health, I couldn’t concentrate on my coursework or meet my deadlines. I reviewed the resources available to students (course outlines, the university guide regarding sexual violence, etc.), but didn’t find any guidelines for victims seeking help in the form of accommodation. I needed answers, so I gathered up my courage and went to my program director’s office. I requested an urgent, five-minute appointment, mentioning that I preferred to speak with her because she was a woman. Unfortunately, the director could only meet with me in five days’ time. The assistant director, a man, could meet with me immediately, however. Tearing up, I thought about letting it go and just leaving. A year earlier, this same assistant director had made some comments that I had found hurtful. During his welcome address to all first-year students, his presentation broached the topic of sexual violence. In a flippant tone, he referred to it as a “university requirement,” implying that the topic was somehow immaterial, but that his superiors required that he address the issue. He began by stating that we were all responsible adults and that, obviously, it was not OK to commit such acts. Then he quickly moved on to the next topic. Despite, at the time, never having been the victim of sexual assault, his tone and remarks upset me. I would have preferred to hear that help was available for victims and that staff members, especially senior administrators, were there to support, protect and assist them. Quickly weighing the pros and cons, I concluded that if I was going to successfully complete my university studies, I should speak with the assistant director. I was gripped by fear. After taking a seat in the meeting room, I summoned my courage and told him that I had been the victim of sexual assault a week earlier and that I wanted to discuss the possibility of extending my assignment deadlines. Unprepared, his first reaction was to ask me if I had gone to the police. A little voice inside me said: “If I don’t go to the police, is what I’m going through important enough to request an accommodation? Do I even deserve help?” Despite this inner questioning, I calmly replied that it was personal and that I preferred to focus on making arrangements so that I could successfully complete my coursework. Although clearly sympathetic, the assistant director explained that, unlike at the high school level, a university program director could not require professors to extend their students’ deadlines. He advised me to explain my situation to each of my professors and make arrangements with them regarding my deadlines. I told him that I couldn’t possibly repeat what I had just confided in him and that I hoped we could find another solution. The idea of opening myself up to judgment from my teachers and having to repeatedly explain the situation terrified me. Later the same day, he informed me that he had spoken to the program director and that there was another solution. He explained that I would have to “provide proof in the form of a doctor’s note confirming the need for accommodation.” The note had to specify the arrangements, without necessarily giving the reason for them. It would then be sent to all my professors, who would be required to comply with the stipulations. On the one hand, I was relieved to know that I wouldn’t have to speak with all of my professors individually. On the other, I felt mounting stress and frustration at having to take more time off work to go back to the hospital that did the rape kit analysis. I didn’t think that I’d have time to obtain the note before the deadline for my first assignment. Acting on impulse, I told my counsellor about the solution proposed by senior administration. She informed me that, according to university policy, the note could be written by a counsellor at the help centre, and she wrote one for me on the spot. I took the signed document and submitted it in person to the assistant director, informing him of this policy detail that had eluded him. The weeks passed, and the majority of my professors were understanding. Two of them, however, were less so. Despite the later date specified in my letter of accommodation, both required that I submit all of my work on the last day of the term. As the assistant director had sided with them, I was out of options, so I did my best to comply. Then I learned that this was not in line with the university’s policy provisions, which stipulate that, in this situation, assignments may be submitted when the individual feels capable of completing them, regardless of the date specified in the letter of accommodation. I was worried about failing and my stress levels shot up. I called my counsellor again. She put me in touch with the ombudsman. Once more, I had to recount everything that had happened. Once I’d answered all of her questions, the ombudsman’s assistant asked me if I had contacted the university’s human rights office. Indeed, I had left a message that October requesting assistance, but no one had returned my call and by this time it was December. The ombudsman’s office followed up with the human rights office. Several hours and emails later, the human rights office contacted me. They apologized for not having followed up, explaining that my file had fallen through the cracks due to a staffing change. After some lengthy discussions, they sent a note to all the faculties regarding the sexual violence policy, and more specifically about accommodations for victims. Mandatory training was also implemented for all personnel to ensure consistent application of the policy. The human rights office adviser even offered me the training and an opportunity to make recommendations to the committee on how to improve things. I gladly accepted. At the end of the term, I made an appointment with my program director. I told her all about my experience with the academic accommodation process. By the time I was finished, she had tears in her eyes. She apologized on behalf of the department and stated that I could rewrite any assignments that I wasn’t satisfied with. Throughout this heart-to-heart, she remained compassionate, flexible and calm –the three things I needed most. Once I had completed all my coursework and the term was over, I was finally able to spend time with my family, recharge my batteries and consult with counsellors specialized in dealing with sexual assault. They told me that not every victim in the same situation has the strength of character and resilience that I’d demonstrated. As my story shows, getting help and taking steps to obtain special accommodation can be traumatic. I had to jump through quite a few hoops – some necessary, many not – to obtain mine. Plus, I had to retell my story a dozen times, which was always stressful and painful. My only goal was to ensure my academic success and my survival. While I’m aware that the various people I dealt with meant me no harm, their poor word choice, lack of knowledge and inappropriate actions, however well-intentioned, could be deeply hurtful and hinder the healing process. The tendency to blame oneself, which may seem incomprehensible to someone on the outside, is very real and common among victims. It can be very difficult to reach out and ask for help, especially if it is not easily accessible. Rarely in my life had I ever felt so vulnerable. Intentionally or not, I felt judged and let down by certain university staff. The fact that I had to knock on so many doors at least paved the way for a number of changes that will ensure administrators have the proper knowledge to implement the university’s policies. I can only hope that this article will inspire other universities to take similar measures to ensure their policies are followed. [post_title] => I was sexually assaulted. I turned to my university for help. Here’s what happened [post_excerpt] => After struggling for months to receive the accommodations she was entitled to, one student shares her story as a lesson for university administrators, faculty members and front-line staff. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => i-was-sexually-assaulted-i-turned-to-my-university-for-help-heres-what-happened [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-20 10:14:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-20 15:14:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.universityaffairs.ca/?post_type=features&p=50161 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => features [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 10 [filter] => raw [meta_robots] => ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 50091 [post_author] => 90 [post_date] => 2018-08-28 09:30:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-28 13:30:14 [post_content] => In a precedent-setting case, an Ontario arbitrator has directed Ryerson University to ensure that student evaluations of teaching, or SETs, “are not used to measure teaching effectiveness for promotion or tenure.” The SET issue has been discussed in Ryerson collective bargaining sessions since 2003, and a formal grievance was filed in 2009. The long-running case has been followed, and the ruling applauded, by academics throughout Canada and internationally, who for years have complained that universities rely too heavily on student surveys as a means of evaluating professors’ teaching effectiveness. “We were delighted,” said Sophie Quigley, professor of computer science at Ryerson, and the grievance officer who filed the case back in 2009. “These are statistically correct arguments we’ve been making over the years, and it’s wonderful that reason has prevailed.” While acknowledging that SETs are relevant in “capturing student experience” of a course and its instructor, arbitrator William Kaplan stated in his ruling that expert evidence presented by the faculty association “establishes, with little ambiguity, that a key tool in assessing teaching effectiveness is flawed.” It’s a position faculty have argued for years, particularly as SETs migrated online and the numbers of students participating plummeted, while at the same time university administrations relied more heavily on what on the surface seemed to them a legitimate data-driven tool. Mr. Kaplan’s conclusion that SETs are in fact deeply problematic will “unleash debate at universities across the country,” said David Robinson, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. “The ruling really confirms the concerns members have raised.” While student evaluations have a place, Mr. Robinson argued, “they are not a clear metric. It’s disconcerting for faculty to find themselves judged on the basis of data that is totally unreliable.” As Dr. Quigley pointed out, studies about SETs didn’t exist 15 years ago, and it was perhaps easier for universities to see the surveys as an effective means of assessment. “Psychologically, there is an air of authority in using all this data, making it seem official and sound,” she noted. Now, however, there is much research to back up the argument against SETs as a reliable measure of teaching effectiveness, particularly when the data is used to plot averages on charts and compare faculty results. The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) commissioned two reports on the issue, one by Richard Freishtat, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of California, Berkeley, and another by statistician Philip B. Stark, also at Berkeley. The findings in those two reports were accepted by Mr. Kaplan, who cited flaws in methodology and ethical concerns around confidentiality and informed consent. He also cited serious human-rights issues, with studies showing that biases around gender, ethnicity, accent, age, even “attractiveness,” may factor into students’ ratings of professors, making SETs deeply discriminatory against numerous “vulnerable” faculty. “We expect this ruling will be used by other faculty associations,” said Dr. Quigley, who said she has received numerous requests for further information about the case from faculty across Canada. OCUFA representatives agreed about the wider significance of Mr. Kaplan’s decision. “The ruling gives a strong signal of the direction the thinking is going on this,” said Jeff Tennant, a professor of French studies at Western University and chair of the OCUFA collective bargaining committee and faculty representative on the OCUFA working group about SETs that commissioned the two reports submitted to the arbitrator. “I think university administrations need to recognize that if they’re committed to quality teaching, if they want to monitor and evaluate performance, they have to use instruments that actually do measure teaching effectiveness in a way that these student surveys do not,” said Dr. Tennant. Peer evaluations and teaching dossiers, for instance, have been shown to be more reliable as indicators of teaching effectiveness than SETs, he said. A report documenting all the research OCUFA gathered in support of the Ryerson case will be published in October. “There’s a real opportunity for Canadian universities to take leadership here, to say, ‘We recognize the evidence that’s been marshalled here from dozens and dozens of studies.’ We can continue to survey students to get information about their experience, that information is valuable to us, but we’re going to have to find more reliable means to evaluate faculty teaching.” In the end, Mr. Kaplan agreed with the OCUFA reports: “Extremely comprehensive teaching dossiers – as is also already anticipated by the collective agreement – containing diverse pedagogical information drawn from the instructor and other sources should provide the necessary information to evaluate the actual teaching as an ongoing process of inquiry, experimentation and reflection. Together with peer evaluation, they help paint the most accurate picture of teaching effectiveness.” [post_title] => Arbitration decision on student evaluations of teaching applauded by faculty [post_excerpt] => Such evaluations can’t be used for tenure and promotion decisions, arbitrator rules in case involving Ryerson University. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => arbitration-decision-on-student-evaluations-of-teaching-applauded-by-faculty [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-11-20 10:12:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-20 15:12:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.universityaffairs.ca/?post_type=news&p=50091 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => news [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 9 [filter] => raw [meta_robots] => ) ) [post_count] => 4 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 52026 [post_author] => 802 [post_date] => 2018-10-09 14:56:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-10-09 18:56:24 [post_content] => Last month, I urged that we must better understand academic freedom if we wish to support the scholarly mission of universities and the scholarly personnel charged with advancing that mission. In this dispatch, my second in this series, we begin to undertake this task with a survey of the history of academic freedom. Academic freedom is one of the pillars of the modern university, and yet it is a comparatively new concept. The universities founded in the 10th and 11th centuries in the Middle East and North Africa fostered remarkable diversity in scholarly approaches. However, the concept of academic freedom was not codified there. Moreover, the de facto academic freedom these institutions cultivated was destroyed in later centuries by European colonization. Academic freedom re-emerged in early 19th century Germany with the Prussian reform and the so-called Humboldtian university. Wilhelm von Humboldt’s educational reforms enshrined the twin concepts of Lehrfreiheit (freedom to teach) and Lernfreiheit (freedom to learn) under the rubric of Akademische Freiheit (academic freedom). So swift was the effect of this reform that by 1898, celebrated American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce in a lecture at Harvard unfavorably compared U.S. universities, which he regarded as mere training institutions, with German universities, whose commitment to advancing knowledge made them, in Peirce’s words, “the light of the whole world.” The rise of the Third Reich led to the end of academic freedom (and the accompanying principle of institutional autonomy) in Germany. Hitler declared universal education “the most corroding and disintegrating poison.” He appointed Bernard Rust, a former schoolmaster, as Minister of Education. Rust selected the rectors for German universities, and announced that “the future basis for all studies in German universities would be the Nazi racial theories.” Fifteen hundred faculty members across the country were dismissed. By 1939, 45 percent of German faculty members had been replaced by Nazis. Fortunately, by this time, academic freedom had begun to take root in America. In 1915, the nascent American Association of University Professors (AAUP) endorsed a statement of principles on academic freedom and academic tenure known as the “1915 Declaration of Principles.” That statement reprised the Humboldtian assertion of the freedom to teach and the freedom to learn, but, in light of the AAUP’s remit, confined itself to the former. On the AAUP’s (1915) account, the freedom to teach comprises three subsidiary freedoms: freedom of inquiry and research; freedom of teaching within the university or college; and freedom of extra-mural utterance and action. The 1915 statement is extraordinarily useful, but long. In 1925, the American Council on Education (which included the AAUP in its membership) formulated the shorter “1925 Conference Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure.” From 1934 to 1940, the AAUP worked with the Association of American Colleges (now the Association of American Colleges and Universities) on a further restatement of the principles. The result of this work is the “1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” which – with some interpretations added in 1970 by a joint committee of the AAUP and AAC – remains the AAUP’s official academic freedom statement, and one of the most important and influential codifications of academic freedom. Today, around 250 scholarly and professional associations in the U.S. endorse the 1940 statement. The 1940 statement retains the 1915 statement’s focus on the three main freedoms that fall under the rubric of academic freedom. Each of them in turn is addressed in the three main principles articulated in the 1940 statement:
  1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.
  2. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject. Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.
  3. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) was formed in 1951, and in early days focused primarily on bargaining for better compensation for faculty members. However, in 1959, United College (now University of Winnipeg) professor Harry Crowe was fired for criticizing the institution in a private letter; in response, CAUT seriously took up the defense of academic freedom. In the years following the Harry Crowe case, CAUT supported its member faculty associations across the country in introducing language about academic freedom into their collective agreements. Today, most Canadian collective agreements between faculty associations and universities feature similar CAUT boilerplate language about academic freedom. One of the most distinctive phrases in that boilerplate informs the reader that “academic freedom does not require neutrality on the part of the individual; rather, academic freedom makes commitment possible.” In 1993, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to devise and adopt an international standard-setting recommendation on the status of higher education teaching personnel. President Ronald Reagan had in 1984 withdrawn the U.S. from UNESCO. Looking for North American leadership from outside the U.S., UNESCO turned to the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which seconded CAUT executive director Donald Savage as an expert for the project. The result is UNESCO’s 1997 “Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel.” The UNESCO Recommendation expresses “pressing concern regarding the vulnerability of the academic community to untoward political pressures which could undermine academic freedom” and asserts “that the right to education, teaching and research can only be fully enjoyed in an atmosphere of academic freedom and autonomy for institutions of higher education and that the open communication of findings, hypotheses and opinions lies at the very heart of higher education and provides the strongest guarantee of the accuracy and objectivity of scholarship and research.” In 2011, on its 100th anniversary, Universities Canada issued a new academic freedom statement that, in addition to sketching the key academic freedoms, explains why academic freedom is important for society, and disambiguates between academic freedom and freedom of speech: “Unlike the broader concept of freedom of speech, academic freedom must be based on institutional integrity, rigorous standards for enquiry and institutional autonomy, which allows universities to set their research and educational priorities.” The new statement came under fire from some critics – most notably CAUT – for its silence on extramural expression and the freedom to criticize the university. Much of the tension between CAUT and Universities Canada reflects the distinct perspectives and desiderata of, respectively, employees and employers. However, the disagreement also tracks a broader shift in thinking about academic freedom – to wit, the shift from the “traditional model” to the “socially engaged” model. The traditional model of academic freedom obtained from 19th century Germany went well into the 20th century. On that model, scholars are academically free to pursue and disseminate research in their field of expertise within scholarly fora. Late in the 20th century, however, the new socially engaged model began to emerge. This model defends scholars’ expressive freedom outside of their disciplines and outside of scholarly fora. The motivation for the new model is that professors are often sought by the public for their wisdom on broader social questions. I often observe that we want our Einsteins to be able to go beyond physics and discuss world peace in public, if they wish to do so. If engaging with the public is indeed part of the job of the professor, the argument goes, then universities ought to protect professors who take up the task. Today, which particular model of academic freedom we ought to embrace is contested internally within the postsecondary sector. However, academic freedom tout court is also subject to continued attacks from external forces. From Nazi and Soviet purges to the removal of tenure in Thatcherite Britain, authoritarian governments have historically encroached on academic freedom. Today, we are seeing new attacks in such places as Turkey, Poland, Hungary, the United States, and Ontario. We’ll look at current threats to academic freedom in a future dispatch in this series. [post_title] => A brief history of academic freedom [post_excerpt] => If engaging with the public is indeed part of the job of the professor, then universities ought to protect professors who take up the task. 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