Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Nova Scotia and the Politics of Listening

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

One difference between me and Alex Usher is that my RSS works and his doesn't, which means I'm often late to see what he posts on his newsletter. Another is that when he was involved with student politics he led an effort to rename the student union building after William Shatner, while in my case I led an effort to sue the university for a shade under a million dollars to roll back and repay illegal student fee increases. Nothing against renaming the building, but what you see depends a lot on what you think is important. That's why I scoff at his claim in this article that "Nova Scotia is attempting is not something any Canadian government has previously done."

Under Alberta's Conservative governments, universities were always "essentially utilities, subservient to the state." As a member of the University of Alberta's Board of Governors I could see that in action weeks after week. The same sort of annual budgeting Nova Scotia faces now. That's why it has been a theme for me over the years that in order to survive (let alone regain their independence) universities must not only claim, but actually be, indispensible to the public. They do this not only by training nurses (because after all, a government that underfunds health care won't give them jobs anyways) but by lowering fees, opening access and extending their reach into the community. Image: The Gateway, from last year.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: May 20, 2024 02:06 a.m.

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