Confronting precarious academic work

February 11-12, 2016

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Held in Toronto from February 11-12, 2016, the conference examined the realities and impact of precarious academic work on our universities and considered solutions now and for the future. Speakers included researchers, activists, and policymakers from Canada, the USA, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Key themes included:

  • Current realities of precarious academic work and the impact on faculty, students, and higher education
  • Learning from the experience of precarious labour in other jurisdictions
  • Responding to the challenges of precarious academic work: current directions and future needs
  • Re-imagining academic work for the future

Conference Agenda, Slides, and Audio

You can access the conference proceedings below. You can also follow the ongoing conversation at the #precariousPSE hashtag on Twitter.

Day 1, Thursday February 11, 2016

9:00 a.m. -9:15 a.m.
Welcome and introduction – Judy Bates, OCUFA President and Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University.

9:15 a.m. -10:15 a.m.
Keynote Presentation:  Public Perceptions of Precarious Academic Work: Release of a February 2016 Public Opinion Survey

Andre Turcotte, Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Carleton University
Heather K. Scott-Marshall, President, Mission Research Incorporated

[Presentation Slides / Poll Results]

Moderator: Simona Choise, Education Reporter, Globe and Mail

10:30 a.m. to Noon
Presentation and Panel Discussion One: Setting the stage: What do we know about the impact of precarious academic labour on contract faculty and our university communities?

Panel Speakers:
Cynthia Field, Ph.D candidate, OISE/University of Toronto [Presentation Slides] Jamie Brownlee, Department of Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University and author of Academia Inc: How Corporatization is Transforming Canadian Universities (2015)
Louise Birdsell Bauer, Ph.D Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto [Presentation Slides] Robyn May, University of Melbourne [Presentation Slides]

Moderator: Rod Skinkle, Academica Group

Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Lunchtime Keynote Address: Global Trends in Precarious Labour and International Responses

Guy Standing, Professor of Development Studies, University of London, UK  and author of The Precariat – The New Dangerous Class (2011) and A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens (2014)

Grace Karram Stephenson, Ph.D student, Higher and International Education, Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, OISE, University of Toronto and University World News contributor

2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Panel Session Two: Responses to Precarity- Building solidarity among faculty, students and the broader community

Panel speakers:
Maria Maisto, New Faculty Majority (US)
Johnathan White, Universities and Colleges Union (UK) [Presentation Slides] Robyn May, University of Melbourne [Presentation Slides] Mark Crane, Faculty of Arts and Science – History, Nipissing University;  and OCUFA contract faculty committee

Moderator: Melonie Fullick, University Affairs columnist and Ph.D student, Faculty of Education, York University

3:45 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Panel Session Three: Why university governance is important to addressing precarious work at our universities

Panel speakers:
Glen Jones, Professor of Higher Education and Interim Dean, OISE/University of Toronto [Presentation Slides] Erin Black, Vice-Chair, CUPE 3902, University of Toronto [Presentation Slides] Jim Gerlach, Chair, CAUT Contract Academic Staff Committee and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Moderator:  Tara Brautigam, Assistant Business Editor, The Canadian Press


Day 2, Friday, February 12, 2016    

9:00 a.m. -10:15 a.m.
Final Keynote Address: A world without precarity: The generational impact of precarious academic work and possibilities for the future

Speaker: Karen Foster, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Rural Futures for Atlantic Canada,  Dalhousie University

[Presentation Slides]

Moderator: Romina Maurino Writer/Journalist

10:30 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.
Panel Session Four and Town Hall plenary: Which way forward?

Panel speakers:
Fran Cachon, Department of Sociology, University of Windsor and OCUFA Contract Faculty Committee
David Robinson, Executive Director, Canadian Association of University Teachers
Pam Frache, Organizer, Fight for $15 and Fairness Campaign
Alastair Woods, Communications Director, Canadian Federation of Students – Ontario

Moderator: Laurie Monsebraaten, Social Justice Reporter, Toronto Star