Academic Matters - Nov 2012 - Anger and the Academy

Anger and the Academy

November 2012

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Final Observations of Canadian University Rankings: A Misadventure Now Over Two Decades Long

In November, 2012, Maclean’s published its  21st annual rankings of Canadian universities. Indeed, the ranking of universities has become a popular exercise with which to assess and promote higher education in North America. The ranking approach is similar to that used by publications such as Consumer Reports, in which goods or services are assigned scores based on rational parameters, and then assigned relative rank standings. Rankings of universities continue to be advertised annually as required reading for prospective students



“Hello, Professor Penfold? It’s the fiscal crisis calling.”

Penfold

By the time this column is published, I will have no telephone in my office. It turns out that phones are really expensive, and with so many alternatives—from iPads to Blackberries and email to social media —there was no sense holding on to anachronistic nineteenth century technologies.

So don’t expect any heroic resistance from me. I’m not about to chain myself to my telephone, singing Woody Guthrie songs and quoting Martin Luther King while campus police try to talk me



The November issue of Academic Matters is now live!

The great medieval universities – Paris, Bologna, Oxford – were places far removed from the tribulations of daily life. Under the protection of the Church, scholars were free to pursue knowledge for its own sake without interference from the city fathers. They lived in near-literal ivory towers, soaring above the concerns of kings and peasants alike.

This separation could not last. First in Scotland, then in France, and then with Humboldt’s bold reforms to German universities, the academy began to



Signification du carré vert : Raison pour laquelle de nombreux étudiants sont opposés à la grève

Le 30 mars 2011, le ministre des Finances du Québec, Raymond Bachand, annonçait que les étudiants devraient payer davantage pour leurs études universitaires, et que le financement des universités avait besoin d’une contribution plus élevée de la part des étudiants. À la suite de cette annonce, les associations étudiantes du Québec ont décidé de parler au nom de l’ensemble des étudiants, comme si, par pure magie, tous les étudiants avaient la même opinion.

Des étudiants pour la hausse? Le commencement.



Behind the Green Square: Why Many Students Opposed the Strike

Check out Martin Robert’s support of the student strike. This article has been translated from the original French. Read the French version here.

On March 30, 2011, Quebec Minister of Finance, Raymond Bachand, announced that students would have to pay more for their university education, and that the funding of universities would require a greater contribution from students. Following this announcement, Quebec student associations decided to speak for all students, as if magically all students were of the



The High Cost of Low Tuition in Quebec

Read Daniel Weinstock’s take on this issue.

At this writing, the student unions’ boycott of classes in Quebec has ended in success. The boycott precipitated an early election that brought down Jean Charest’s PLQ government. His defense of higher tuition and his stand against the student unions—excessive and illiberal though it became— almost certainly helped him in the polls; the boycott was never popular among voters. Perhaps it even saved his party from the third-place finish and subsequent death spiral



Equality of Opportunity, Equality of Means: An Argument for Low Tuition and the Student Strike

Read Jacob T. Levy’s take on this issue here.

Political philosophers have taken in recent years to distinguishing between “ideal theory” and “nonideal theory.” As I understand the distinction, the former has to do with the way we think that political institutions ought to be, were they to embody our preferred values perfectly. The latter pertains to the choices that we ought to make on specific issues of real-world political morality, given that our institutions are as they are—that is,



Not Another Brick in the Wall: Capitalism and Student Protests in Chile

A few days ago, I visited a high school in a poor urban area in Western Santiago and met with the junior and senior classes to discuss the student movement of 2011 in Chile. “What were the mobilized youth demanding?” I asked the students in the San Alberto Hurtado School. “Did they succeed?” The questions were relevant enough to keep the students engaged. They voiced their opinions and argued for a while, beating the somnolence induced by the heat and



The Quiet Campus: The Anatomy of Dissent at Canadian Universities

The remarkable—a word that can be read in many different ways—2012 student protests in Quebec have stirred memories of the activist campuses of yesteryear. For faculty members introduced to the academy in the era of student activism, anti-Vietnam War protests, and general social unrest, the recent quietude of the Canadian university system has been disturbing. Universities had been transformed in the 1960s from comfortable retreats into agents of intellectual foment, social change, and political action. For a time, it appeared