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Rebecca Ellis wins 2019 Mandelbaum Fellowship

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TORONTO – The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the Henry Mandelbaum Graduate Fellowship is Rebecca Ellis from Western University. 

“The Mandelbaum Fellowship recognizes graduate students who combine exceptional scholarship with deep engagement in their communities,” said Rahul Sapra, Vice-President of OCUFA. “Each year, we receive many excellent applications, and this year was no exception. We are pleased to recognize Rebecca Ellis’ commitment to social justice work and academic scholarship with this award.”

As a doctoral candidate at Western University, Rebecca is exploring the relationship between people and urban bees in Toronto and London, Ontario. Given the global decline in insect populations, which have an impact on our food systems and bee migration patterns, her research aims to determine how we can create cities where wild and managed bees live harmoniously with humans. 

Rebecca’s passion does not start and end with environmental issues. She is a proven leader in her community committed to sharing knowledge through local media and events, through her blog and podcast, at academic conferences, and through academic journals. She continually strives to make the world a better place for those around her.

The Mandelbaum Fellowship was established to honour Henry Mandelbaum, Executive Director of OCUFA from 1996-2011. The Fellowship is awarded to a graduate student who has demonstrated academic excellence, shows exceptional academic promise, and has done significant service for the community during his or her university years.

“Henry was passionate about social justice, and improving the lives of those who faced formidable social and economic barriers,” said Sapra. “Sadly, Henry passed away in 2012, but we are honoured to continue his work through the Mandelbaum Fellowship.”

Rebecca Ellis will receive the award at a ceremony hosted by OCUFA in Toronto on May 25, 2019.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit the OCUFA website at www.ocufa.on.ca.

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For more information, contact:
Ben Lewis, Communications Lead at 416-306-6033 or blewis@ocufa.on.ca

OCUFA submission warns about government interference in collective bargaining and its consequences for contract faculty and equity

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Ontario faculty are concerned that the Ford government intends to interfere in collective bargaining relationships throughout the public sector, including at universities across the province. In a written submission to the Treasury Board Secretariat regarding its consultations on public sector compensation, OCUFA detailed its concerns about the consultation process and the government’s motives.

Ontario’s faculty and academic librarians firmly believe in the right to free and fair collective bargaining. It is through this process that equity is fostered, ensuring that good jobs and equal pay are provided to traditionally under-compensated groups, including women-identified, racialized, and contract faculty.

Blaming faculty and other public sector workers for Ontario’s fiscal challenges is fact-free scapegoating. Legislated centralized bargaining would not only be counterproductive, it would destabilize labour relations and undermine flexibility, collaboration, and creativity in collective bargaining in the postsecondary education sector.

Like many, OCUFA suspects that legislation has already been written behind closed doors and that the government’s “consultations” were no more than a charade. This ill-advised legislation is likely to undermine the integrity of the important public services Ontarians depend upon.

In advance of this expected legislation, OCUFA joined with the Ontario Federation of Labour and unions representing workers in both the public and private sector to make a principled statement against the government’s attacks on workers, public services, and free and fair collective bargaining.

Read OCUFA’s full submission.
Read the Ontario Federation of Labour’s solidarity statement.

New issue of Academic Matters: Decolonizing the university in an era of Truth and Reconciliation

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The latest issue of Academic Matters asks whether universities are doing enough to respond to colonization in higher education. An insightful group of scholars contribute their perspectives. It’s a must read and available online for free.

Bringing Indigenous viewpoints to higher education
By Tanya Talaga and Victoria McMurchy
Ojibway author and journalist Tanya Talaga sits down with Victoria McMurchy to discuss how Canadian postsecondary institutions have responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. What needs to change for more Indigenous students to access postsecondary education and how can institutions move towards decolonization?

The role of faculty associations following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
By Lori Campbell, Shannon Dea, and Laura McDonald
As universities take on the work of Indigenization, what role do faculty and faculty associations have in advancing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and the rights of their Indigenous members?

The Indigenous diversity gap
By Malinda S. Smith and Nancy Bray
The Indigenous diversity gap infographic presented here provides answers to the question: “Where are the Indigenous Peoples at Canadian universities?” and presents for the first time an outline of an “academic pipeline” for Indigenous peoples in Canadian universities.

Protecting Indigenous language rights: Much more than campus signage needed
By Mary Ann Corbiere
Despite the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, many universities are only making superficial efforts to integrate Indigenous languages into their curricula. How can universities play a leading role in revitalizing Indigenous languages?

A move towards conciliation in academia
By Ashley Courchene
After four years, reconciliation is not what we hoped it would be in our classrooms. How did we get here, and is there any way to fix what is broken?

Indigenous researchers plant seeds of hope for health and climate
By Hannah Tait Neufeld, Brittany Luby, and Kim Anderson
Indigenous land-based learning provides hands-on opportunities for knowledge development that shift away from Eurocentric forms of education. How can universities use land-based learning to impact students, research, and the environment?

Job posting: Collective Bargaining Research Analyst

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Working under the supervision of the Executive Director, the successful candidate for the Research Analyst – Collective Bargaining position will provide collective bargaining support for OCUFA’s member associations as well as assist in related advocacy initiatives.

Areas of responsibility

  • Supporting faculty association contract negotiation requests with required data, analysis, and research.
  • Critically analyzing data within an advocacy and collective bargaining framework.
  • Developing/maintaining databases and designing projects related to the research interests of OCUFA, in areas such as faculty hiring, faculty demographics, salaries, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment.
  • Liaising with faculty associations, institutions, individuals, and other organizations relevant to the research and data requirements of OCUFA.
  • Preparing analytical quantitative reports, briefs, submissions, and other publications.
  • Designing and executing projects related to the research interests of OCUFA.
  • Providing support to the OCUFA Collective Bargaining Committee, as well as to workshops, conferences, other committees, and the Board of Directors as assigned.
  • Writing reports, briefs, and speaking notes.
  • Other duties may be assigned from time to time as the needs of OCUFA change.

Requirements

  • Demonstrated quantitative and qualitative analytical skills with proficiency in data management software and general computer literacy.
  • Background in collective bargaining and labour relations.
  • Understanding of advocacy research and critical policy analysis.
  • Ability to synthesize and filter a large amount of information in a succinct manner and write accessible quantitative and qualitative research reports.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Knowledge of the Ontario higher education sector would be an asset.
  • A minimum of a graduate degree and five years of experience in quantitative and qualitative policy research (or the equivalent combination of education and work experience).
  • Ability to work on projects independent of supervision by senior staff.
  • Knowledge of SQL database would be an asset.

This is a regular, full-time position at the Policy Officer 2 level. The salary range for this position is $82,000–$109,000 plus a benefits plan fully paid for by OCUFA and a generous pension plan.

OCUFA is committed to the principle of employment equity, is a unionized and equal opportunity employer, and welcomes diversity in the workplace.

Please submit your application with resume and the names of three references by May 27, 2019 to:

Michael Conlon, Ph.D
Executive Director
OCUFA
17 Isabella Street
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1M7
mconlon@ocufa.on.ca

OCUFA expresses concerns about “consultations” on public sector compensation

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OCUFA is concerned about the motives behind the Ministry of Finance’s “consultations” on compensation for workers in the broader public sector. It has become increasingly clear that these consultations are not being conducted in good faith and are, instead, part of the Ford government’s political agenda to undermine the rights of workers and unions in Ontario.

At the government’s consultation with postsecondary education stakeholders on May 3, OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips made these concerns clear in her opening statement:

Thank you, my name is Gyllian Phillips, President of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA), representing 17,000 faculty at 29 member associations – most of whom are participating today.

These are turbulent times for universities in Ontario, starting with the government’s introduction of needless directives on free speech, to the cuts to OSAP for students and the 10% tuition reduction that cut over $350 million from the system, and most recently in the budget the introduction of so called performance based funding tied to 60% of the operating budgets of our institutions.

The clear pattern of all of these measures is government intrusion into the autonomy of our institutions. And that is not merely a budgetary problem or a political annoyance, it is a direct attack on the societal purpose of universities and what makes universities effective and unique social institutions that address the most pressing social, economic, and cultural problems facing the people of Ontario. The principles of tenure, academic freedom, and collegial governance are not job perks but rather the lifeblood of any modern university and the living, breathing guarantee that universities remain autonomous from state and private interests.

Regrettably, we see these consultations as the latest attack by the government on university autonomy and university faculty. Like much government policy thus far it is, in essence, a manipulative, cynical solution in search of a problem. In addition to our unique legislative and societal mandate, it’s important to note that the Government of Ontario currently only funds 35% of our operating budgets. In addition, like many others in the public sector, our monetary settlements have barely kept up with inflation and operating funding for universities has not kept up with inflation. Salaries in our sector have come in well under private sector settlements in recent years and wage legislation would only serve to undermine mature bargaining relationships. Blaming faculty and other public sector workers for Ontario’s fiscal challenges is fact free scapegoating. Both nominally and legally, the Government of Ontario is not our employer and legislated centralized bargaining would not only be counter productive, it would destabilize labour relations in our sector and undermine flexibility, collaboration, and creativity in collective bargaining in a sector that is varied and complex. The government has offered no substantial rationale for why destabilizing labour relations in a sector that more or less works well, will assist the government with its purported ‘fiscal crisis.’

In addition to our pragmatic objections, we have a principled objection to the government undermining the right of university faculty to free and fair collective bargaining. In the decisive first move in overturning the prevailing labour trilogy the Supreme Court elegantly captures the stakes of these consultations:

The right to bargain collectively with an employer enhances the human dignity, liberty and autonomy of workers by giving them the opportunity to influence the establishment of workplace rules and thereby gain some control over a major aspect of their lives, namely their work… Collective bargaining is not simply an instrument for pursuing external ends…rather [it] is intrinsically valuable as an experience in self-government.

We are interested in participating in any conversation that makes collective bargaining more efficient and effective. However, our participation today is premised on several fundamental principles:

  1. Sector wide bargaining is both legislatively and culturally inappropriate for our membership. Each of our member institutions is unique from a regional, pedagogic, research, and resource perspective. A one size fits all approach to bargaining is a destructive non-solution to a problem the government has not articulated,
  2. Our participation today in no way signals our agreement with any of the premises or rationale the government will set out today.

Like most others who have participated in this process, we assume that these discussions are a mere formality and will form the pretext for legislated constraints on bargaining. I would further note that our participation today in no way constrains our right to legally challenge the legislation once it is introduced. We see little evidence that the current Ontario government has much interest in protecting intrinsically valuable societal values like free and fair collective bargaining; however, we are prepared to be convinced otherwise as these consultations unfold.

OCUFA’s analysis of the 2019 Ontario Budget

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On April 11, the 2019 Ontario Budget was tabled. Given the track record of the Ontario government to date, this budget delivered what OCUFA expected: a continued attack on workers’ rights, university autonomy, and public services, including postsecondary education.

The overall postsecondary education and training sector budget is projected to be cut by $700 million, which mainly reflects a deep cut (over $670 million) to the Student Financial Assistance (OSAP) budget. The cut to student financial assistance and the removal of the grace period on provincial loans will leave students with significantly higher debt loads.

In a drastic shift, the budget proposes tying 60 per cent of university funding to “performance outcomes” by 2024-25. In dollar figures, funding tied to performance will increase from $50 million (the current figure for 2018-19) to an estimated $2.2 billion by 2024-25.

OCUFA has long cautioned against shifting towards allocating university funding based on performance. This shift is counterproductive as it will, by design, create inequities and slowly but certainly undermine the integrity of Ontario’s postsecondary education system. This new funding model will only serve to destabilize the sector, make long-term planning impossible, encourage more bureaucracy, and stifle innovation.

The Ontario budget, including legislation that targets the rights of senior faculty, further signals this government’s intention to undermine unions across the entire public sector. OCUFA is very concerned by this development and views it as a direct attack on collective bargaining and collective agreements. It is worth noting that faculty members are employed by, and negotiate their contracts with universities, not the province. Any attempt by the Ford government to interfere in university collective agreements and bargaining practices would violate university autonomy and the constitutionally protected rights of faculty and staff.

Read OCUFA’s complete budget analysis here.

New speakers announced for Worldviews 2019

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The early-bird registration deadline for Worldviews 2019 is tomorrow. After that, ticket prices will increase. Register today to get a special reduced rate on conference registration.

This June, participants from around the globe will gather in Toronto for the 2019 Worldviews on Media and Higher Education Conference. Titled Democracy at risk? Reflecting on the future of higher education and media in a post-truth world, the three-day conference will focus on democracy and the changing power relations of higher education and the media in the global north and south – specifically examining the concept of expertise in a “post-truth” world and the types of voices amplified by emerging technologies.

The conference will bring together a diverse group of academics, students, higher education leaders, communications professionals, and journalists with a wide range of experiences, insights, and opinions, including:

  • Maude Barlow, Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians
  • Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary
  • Nermeen Shaikh, Co-Host and News Producer at Democracy Now! and author of The Present as History: Critical Perspectives on Global Power
  • Maria Ressa, CEO and Executive Editor of Rappler.com and former CNN Bureau Chief in Manilla, Philippines
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia and author of Anti-Social Media
  • Sophia Rosenfeld, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Truth and Democracy
  • Tom Nichols, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College and author of The Death of Expertise
  • Nana aba Duncan, Host of CBC’s Fresh Air and Media Girlfriends podcast
  • Cam Gordon, Head of Communications at Twitter Canada
  • Shree Paradkar, Race and Gender Columnist at the Toronto Star
  • Edward Greenspon, President of the Public Policy Forum and former Editor-in-Chief of The Globe and Mail

Through a series of keynote talks, panel discussions, interviews, and interactive exhibits, conference participants will focus on the challenges and opportunities presented by the democratization of higher education and the media, engage in an ongoing and lively exchange of ideas, and explore innovative possibilities for partnerships.

Learn more about the conference and register.

Resistance to education cuts

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On April 4, over 100,000 students at over 700 high schools across Ontario walked out to protest the Doug Ford government’s proposed cuts to education on April 4. Organized by students, this mass walkout is believed to be the largest student protest in Canadian history.

Days later, on April 6, over 30,000 educators, students, parents, and community members gathered in front of the Ontario Legislature to rally in support of education. A postsecondary contingent of college and university faculty and students marched joined the rally in solidarity.

The Rally for Education was organized by unions across Ontario, including AEFO, CUPE-Ontario, ETFO, OECTA, OSBCU, and OSSTF.

These actions were organized in opposition to the Progressive Conservative government’s proposed cuts to education, which will:

  • Increase class size in grades 4-8 and high school;
  • Download the responsibilities of supporting children with autism onto public schools without providing adequate funding; and
  • Reduce the number of teachers and support staff in schools across the province.

The student-led mass walkout and Rally for Education were some of the first actions protesting the government’s attacks on elementary and secondary education. The proposed cuts will have detrimental effects on the quality of education and the supports available to students at Ontario’s elementary and high schools. Those impacts on education quality will ripple through the education system and likely undermine the academic readiness of those who reach university.

Students and educators have made it clear that they have not been consulted on these changes, and that their views have not been taken into account in the government’s proposed legislation.

Faculty associations in Ontario understand the dangers of funding cuts and stand together with students, educators, and parents in demanding adequate funding for Ontario’s education system.

OCUFA raises concerns about gender pay gap with Ontario government

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As part of the Ministry of Labour’s consultation on pay transparency reporting, OCUFA sent Minister Laurie Scott a letter expressing faculty concerns about the staggering 31.5 per cent gender pay gap that exists in Ontario and the pervasive pay inequities that exist within most sectors.

The Ontario Pay Transparency Act, passed in May 2018 by the previous government, was a welcome step towards a centralized and standardized reporting and data collection system on wages and compensation in Ontario. Unfortunately, the Doug Ford government is proposing regulations that could potentially undermine the purpose and effectiveness of the Act and existing protections outlined in Human Rights law.

Addressing the systemic barriers to equity in pay and closing the gender pay gap are of high importance to faculty across Ontario. The postsecondary education sector is a prime example of pay discrepancies and wage gaps based on job status as contract and precariously employed faculty are often paid significantly less than their full-time colleagues for performing similar duties. In fact, data shows that teachers identified as female, non-binary, and racialized are less likely to have full-time, full-year employment.

OCUFA strongly believes that every worker in the province, regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation, should have the right to be free from systemic discrimination in pay. We fully support the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition’s call for the immediate implementation of the Pay Transparency Act.

Read OCUFA President Gyllian Phillips’ letter to the Minister.

Ontario faculty alarmed by proposal to overhaul university funding in provincial budget

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TORONTO – Ontario’s faculty are alarmed by the Doug Ford government’s budget proposal to allocate 60 per cent of university funding based on institutional performance. By design, performance-based funding threatens education quality as it rewards institutions that meet specific performance targets while penalizing those that do not. Faculty are also concerned by signals that the government is considering targeting the rights of senior faculty and interfering with university collective agreements.

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) has long cautioned against shifting towards performance-based funding. The government’s proposal is especially alarming as it promises to tie university funding to 10 unannounced metrics and ignores the reality that Ontario’s universities already receive the lowest per-student funding in Canada. This approach will likely disadvantage small and northern institutions, which already lack the resources of larger universities. Overall, performance-based funding works against quality improvement and punishes students studying at already cash-strapped institutions facing further funding cuts.

“This government irresponsibility suggests that a system that encourages competition between universities will make Ontario a national leader,” said Gyllian Phillips, President of OCUFA. “In reality, performance-based university funding will create a system of winners and losers, putting education quality at risk for everyone.”

The 2019 budget is also concerning because it reinforces government signals that it is considering targeting university faculty and staff. This government’s budget and proposed funding model will further incentivize the rise of precarious academic positions on Ontario’s campuses. If this government is serious about faculty renewal, they must ensure that retiring professors are replaced with full-time tenure-stream faculty and not precariously employed instructors. Good jobs are at the heart of our university system and faculty associations across Ontario believe in the importance of hiring more junior faculty members in secure full-time positions.

Faculty members are employed by, and negotiate their contracts with universities, not the provincial government. Any attempt by the Ford government to interfere in university collective agreements would violate university autonomy and the constitutionally protected rights of faculty and staff.

“Instead of coming up with half-baked ways to take money away from universities, students, and faculty, this government should focus on investing in education quality at Ontario’s postsecondary institutions,” said Phillips. “The government should be helping to create good jobs for faculty forced to work short-term precarious contracts and support students by reversing their decision to cut OSAP grants and attack student democracy.”

Faculty believe in a postsecondary education strategy that increases university funding, removes barriers to attaining a higher education, and creates good jobs. However, this government continues to make rash decisions about Ontario’s postsecondary education system without consulting the faculty, staff, and students who know the system best. It is time for this government to stop making rushed, politically motivated decisions and start listening to faculty, students, and parents.

Founded in 1964, OCUFA represents 17,000 faculty and academic librarians in 29 faculty associations across Ontario. For more information, please visit www.ocufa.on.ca.

New articles from Academic Matters

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There is more to Academic Matters than just the print issue. New articles are being added to the Academic Matters website every week.

Healthy research ecosystem – healthy researchers? The researcher as an organism of focus within a ‘research ecosystem’
By Michelle L.A. Nelson and Ross Upshur
“The academic research environment is changing and researchers report struggling to adapt in order to be successful. Funding shortfalls are perennial, but what systemic shifts should occur to enable researchers at all career stages to be productive and successful?”

Université de l’Ontario français: a 21st-century university
By Marc L. Johnson, Francophone Hub of Knowledge and Innovation
“Ontario’s French community has been asking for a university governed by and for Francophones. Even without the support of the Ontario government, could the modern curriculum proposed for the Université de l’Ontario français provide a way forward?”

University of California’s break with the biggest academic publisher could shake up scholarly publishing for good
By MacKenzie Smith, University of California, Davis
“The University of California recently made international headlines when it canceled its subscription with scientific journal publisher Elsevier. The twittersphere lit up. And Elsevier’s parent company, RELX, saw its stock drop 7 percent in response to the announcement. A library canceling a subscription seems …”

Citizen science can help solve our data crisis
By Tarun Katapally, University of Regina
“A recent news article in the Globe and Mail highlighted Canada’s data crisis and identified at least 28 critical gaps. These gaps intersect multiple sectors, ranging from health and education to environment, justice and Indigenous issues — a dearth that leaves researchers and policy makers …”

Subsidized privilege: The real scandal of American universities
By Neil McLaughlin, McMaster University
“U.S. federal prosecutors have charged 50 people — 38 of them are parents — for allegedly being involved in fraud schemes to secure spots at Yale, Stanford and other big-name schools. Prosecutors accused some parents of paying millions of dollars in bribes to get their …”

Unrealistic striving for academic excellence has a cost
By Tanya Chichekian, Université de Sherbrooke
“In my past experience as an academic adviser, it was difficult to explain to a disappointed family why their child did not make an admissions cut-off when the student’s overall high school average was over 80 per cent. I also accompanied students who …”

Universities: increasingly stressful environments taking psychological toll – here’s what needs to change
By Luca Morini, Coventry University
“Every year, millions of international students travel to different countries to study at university. This, together with a lack of public funding for universities, has created an increasingly competitive market in which universities work directly against each other to chase students and the money they …”

McMaster University Faculty Association makes significant gains in faculty benefits in latest agreement

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The McMaster University Faculty Association (MUFA) has ratified a three-year agreement with their university administration. Significant achievements include extensive improvements to benefits in areas such as mental health, hearing aids, and medical device coverage. MUFA also successfully negotiated increases to its professional development allowance and dependant tuition bursary program. Among other improvements, the association achieved across-the-board salary increases comparable to other faculty associations.

First OCUFA Fellowship in Higher Education Journalism awarded to Nicholas Hune-Brown

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Nicholas Hune-Brown has been awarded the inaugural OCUFA Fellowship in Higher Education Journalism. Hune-Brown is a Toronto-based magazine writer whose work has appeared in Toronto Life, Slate, The Walrus, The Guardian, and other publications. He is the winner of multiple National Magazine Awards and is the features editor of The Local.

The Fellowship was established to help address the shortage of informed investigative reporting on Canadian higher education issues in the Canadian media. Open to full-time, part-time, and freelance journalists, including students, the fellowship is designed to support those wishing to pursue in-depth and innovative journalism on higher education.

A year-long Fellowship, Hune-Brown will spend the next several months engaged in research and is expected to have his work published by early 2020.

You’re invited to Worldviews 2019: An unconventional convention

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This June, join participants from around the globe for the 2019 Worldviews on Media and Higher Education Conference in Toronto, Canada.

Register for Worldviews 2019: Democracy at risk? Reflecting on the future of higher education and media in a post-truth world.

Taking place June 12-14, the three-day conference will focus on democracy and the changing power relations of higher education and the media in the global north and south – specifically examining the concept of expertise in a “post-truth” world and the types of voices amplified by emerging technologies.

Watch the conference teaser video and learn more.

The conference will bring together a diverse group of academics, students, higher education leaders, communications professionals, and journalists with a wide range of experiences, insights, and opinions.

Through a series of keynote talks, panel discussions, interviews, and interactive exhibits, conference participants will focus on the challenges and opportunities presented by the democratization of higher education and the media, engage in an ongoing and lively exchange of ideas, and explore innovative possibilities for partnerships.

Register today to qualify for a special early bird rate.

Learn more about the conference sessions and speakers by visiting the Worldviews website or downloading the conference application for your phone and using the code wv2019.

UOITFA reaches collective agreement on behalf of newly consolidated bargaining unit

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The University of Ontario Institute of Technology Faculty Association (UOITFA) has ratified a three-year agreement with their university administration. This is the first agreement UOITFA has achieved with its newly merged unit after they consolidated bargaining units last year. The agreement applies to tenured and tenure-stream faculty and teaching faculty (who previously had separate agreements), as well as limited term faculty, for whom this is their first agreement. The association achieved across-the-board salary increases comparable to other faculty associations. Significant achievements included extensive improvements to benefits in areas such as vision care, paramedical, and hearing aid coverage. The UOITFA also successfully negotiated increases to the contributions for its defined contribution pension plan as part of its effort to enhance the retirement security of its members.