Academia in the Age of Austerity

Age of Austerity Conference

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Governments in Canada and elsewhere have embraced “austerity” as a necessary public policy to eliminate budgetary deficits and ensure future prosperity.  How has this “austerity agenda” affected faculty, students, administrators and institutions in Ontario, in Canada, and globally?  Is “austerity” inevitable, or are there alternatives?   And what might universities do now, and in the future, in response to the “austerity agenda” or possible alternatives?

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association’s 2013 Conference –   “Academia in the Age of Austerity” – seek to answer these questions and more. The conference critically explored the idea of “austerity” by unpacking the meaning of the term, its implications and impact on higher education, as well as considered other possible policy directions.  Like previous OCUFA conferences, a diversity of views were sought in each of the keynote and panel sessions. The conference took place on January 10-11, 2013 at the Pantages Hotel in Toronto.


Presentation:   “Public Perceptions of the Internationalization of Higher Education”   

Andre Turcotte, Assistant Professor, Communications,CarletonUniversityand President, Feedback Research

Moderator: Mark Langer, Professor, Film Studies,CarletonUniversity and President, OCUFA

Keynote Discussion:   “Debating austerity: Is public constraint the only way forward?”   

Jim Stanford, Economist, Canadian Auto Workers and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Alex Himelfarb, Director, Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, York University; former Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, Government of Canada

Derek DeCloet, Editor, Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine

Moderator: Susanna Kelley, Ontario News Watch

Lunchtime Keynote Address:     “The corporate university ascendant?   

Joel Westheimer, University Research Chair in Democracy and Education, University of Ottawa

Moderator: Alan Hall, Director of Labour Studies, University of Windsor 

Panel Session:  “Austerity in Ontario: From “transformational change” to the rewriting of Ontario labour legislation   

Glen Jones, Ontario Research Chair in Postsecondary Education Policy and Measurement and Professor of Higher Education, OISE – University of Toronto           

Steven Barrett, Senior Partner, Sack, Goldblatt, Mitchell 

Moderator: James Bradshaw, Postsecondary Education Reporter, Globe and Mail           

Panel Session:  “Students and austerity: Ontario, Quebec and beyond”   

Jérémie Bédard-Wien, Secrétaire aux finances, Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante (ASSÉ)

Laura Pin, Ph.D candidate, Department of Political Science, York University

Sarah Jayne King, Chairperson, Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario

ModeratorRod Skinkle, President, Academica Group

Keynote Address:  “Austerity in England: Dramatic impact, uncertain future”   

Claire Callender, Professor of Higher Education Policy, Birkbeck University of London and Professor of Higher Education Studies, Institute of Education, University of London

Moderator: Kate Lawson, OCUFA Vice-President and Associate Professor, English Language and Literature, University of Waterloo

Panel session:  “Austerity, the professoriate and academic librarians: International perspectives   

Eleanor MacDonald, Associate Professor, Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University

Jeffrey J. Williams, Professor of English and of Literary and Cultural Studies, Carnegie Mellon University

William Locke, Head of Learning and Teaching, Higher Education Funding Council for England

Moderator:  Jennifer Lewington, Canadian Correspondent, Chronicle of Higher Education     

Polling Presentation: Public views of austerity: Release & discussion of new OCUFA polling dataAndre Turcotte - President, Feedback Research, and Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University
Keynote Discussion: Debating austerity: Is public constraint the only way forward?Jim Stanford -