Is any of this relevant almost three years later? Yes, because mini-versions of the Quebec protests still play out on Canadian campuses. They may not be about tuition, and their ideological bent could be left or right. But too often when students organize around political causes they take on the same unsavory tones that reject dissent and make straw men of opposing arguments.
But all professors should be cognizant of the relevance their research holds for society beyond the journals, and the responsibility they have for sharing this research. If their work does not take the metaphorical form of Harrison Ford in a cowboy hat, sweeping through and engaging with the real world, then what's the point?
Several times per semester an article gets forwarded around amongst the students in my PhD program with a message that is some variation of the following: Doctoral studies are pointless. Needless to say, these are depressing, discouraging reads for those of us already pursuing advanced degrees. I enjoy being a PhD student.
It is once again university acceptance season. And for a growing number of Canadian grade 12 students, the letters and e-mails include offers of admission from U.S. colleges and universities in addition to the usual array of Canadian schools. But does it actually make any sense for a Canadian to go to a U.S. university?
Many university professors are great teachers. Many are not. I'm baffled that those who are great teachers are saddled with research. And those who are great researchers are saddled with teaching. More importantly, why do universities saddle students with these subpar teachers? Some argue that professors must be able to do both. Yet, professors at Canadian universities are generally promoted based primarily on their research abilities -- on how many publications they get, and how much research money they bring to the university. Teaching is only superficially acknowledged as important.
Canada is finally moving toward a smart, two-step immigration policy -- like Australia and others have -- that will recruit talent through a targeting policy of foreign student education. Most foreign students in Canada get their degrees and never come back. Most Australians apply to remain and the majority stay.
The United States, contrary to Canada, had chosen to split its superior education system, namely the universities, into a private and a publicly-funded one, the first supposedly competing with the other. Private universities attract Nobel Prize winners, top researchers in most fields of knowledge, whether we like it or not.