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humanities 101 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 ranging, historically informed reflection on the objectives of the university, its role in society, and its relation to government that sounds the keynote for the anthology. Acknowledging the pressures placed on tertiary institutions by the economic imperatives of modern governments, Alexander sees the university as a bulwark against rudderless progress under the influence of science and technology because of its ability to develop knowledge as a prerequisite to a desirable state of civilization. Education, he argues, can mitigate the negative inclinations of humanity in pursuit of the common good. It is a noble vision, with distinguished antecedents, but one that undermines its own utopianism by betraying anxiety about the ability of the institution, after all, to curb the reality of individual self-interest. The second stand-out is the essay by F. King Alexander on the consequences of the shift to knowledge-based economies in the Western world, with increased expectations from governments that universities will serve the economic needs of the state. Alexander=s account is chilling in its coldeyed analysis of how governments are using accountability mechanisms (performance-based systems, fiscal incentives, outcomes indicators, leaguetable rankings, and the rest) as a means of balancing state issues with university interests. If Kern Alexander=s essay offers a utopian ideal, this essay more than hints that we may be heading towards the dystopian obverse; certainly, his analysis explains why universities are such a site of tension as the objectives of government policy makers and higher education leaders, and of academic staff and >management,= clash. The rest of the essays are variable. Michael J. Beloff=s speculations on the potential implications of Britain=s Human Rights Act (1998) and the European Convention on Human Rights (2000) make very salutary reading that no university leader can afford to ignore. Similarly, David W. Olien=s compendium of questions to be resolved concerning the pedagogical use of IT should prove useful for those who have to grapple with the issue. On the other hand, Don Aitken=s glib acceptance of >reinvention= as a natural process (by which he means the transformation of universities into quasiprivate businesses) while acknowledging that academics >hate the whole process= glides over the very issues that most leaders are struggling to resolve. Ian Clark=s account of the evolution of the Council of Ontario Universities is also disappointing: the lack of critical reflection makes the essay less illuminating than it otherwise might have been. Despite its variability, this volume largely achieves what it sets out to do. It makes one aware of the causes of change and of trends in the direction of change. It establishes a need for crucial decisions to be made about what the nature and roles of universities should be in the future. To make such decisions remains a major challenge; the future well-being of universities and of the societies that they serve will depend upon the wisdom of these decisions. (ALISTAIR FOX) Elena Hannah, Linda Paul, and Swani Vethamy-Globus, editors. 102 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Women in the Canadian Academic Tundra: Challenging the Chill McGill-Queen=s University Press. xii, 274. $75.00, $29.95 A compilation of narratives and testimonial essays, Women in the Canadian Academic Tundra, can be contextualized with three other recent and related texts. The complementary collection The Madwoman in the Academy: FortyThree Women Boldly Take On the Ivory Tower, edited by Deborah Keahey and Deborah Schnitzer, also deals with women in Canadian higher education. A second book, Indhu Rajagopal=s Hidden Academics: Contract Faculty in Canadian Universities, focuses on the employment sector most dependent on women. A third document is the complaint initiated (at the time of this writing) with the federal Human Rights Commission, by eight senior women academics alleging discriminatory practices in the Canada Research Chairs program. On the face of things, the situation has never been better for women in higher education in Canada: record numbers and record percentages of female students, professors, and administrators. But these four texts show women as, variously, frozen out, abjected, hidden, and disenfranchised. How to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 101-103
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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