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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into light a fundamental vulnerability that is currently inherent to higher learning institutions: food and housing insecurity that was already negatively impacting students and faculty’s ability to optimally learn, teach, and do research. Cooperatives have the potential to help higher learning become more resilient in the face of epidemics by creating conditions for belonging, accessible knowledge, caregiving and food and shelter security.
COVID-19 will likely result in a decline in revenue for the post-secondary sector. Recent analysis point to the likelihood of a dramatic decline in the number of international students, on which many universities rely. Government and philanthropic funding are also likely to decline. During this time of uncertainty, we have an opportunity to decrease inequity rather than amplify it. Cooperatives have a track record of success.
Currently, the post-secondary sector relies heavily on large corporate providers (e.g. for library resources, food services); however, cooperatives are more in line with the values most universities espouse concerning community engagement, lifelong learning, democratic governance, equity and sustainable fiscal and environmental management. Furthermore, coops have a proven track record of success in many sectors. Excluding financial cooperatives, there are 7887 cooperatives in Canada collectively provide over 85,000 full and part-time jobs. This working group will bring insights from diverse fields to understand the challenges and possibilities of expanding ways of governing higher education.
Michelle Stack is the author of Global University Ranking and the Mediatization of Higher Education, and she is editor of a second upcoming book on university rankings and journal impact factors. Michelle has led several courses and workshops focused on building the capacity of scholars and scholar-practitioners to engage media to expand policy debates. She has also led community engaged research using photovoice and video, and won the 2017 Killam Award for Teaching. She is a public commentator on education and former senior policy advisor. Prof. Stacks’ central research interest concerns how people, knowledge and institutions are categorized and the influence of these categorizations on our ability to grapple with “wicked problems” including inequity and climate change.
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As a Wall Scholar, Prof. Stack hopes to expand conversations around a networked approach of academics, activists, educators, and students to uncover the values and beliefs behind rankings, while offering space for the development of approaches to education that are grounded in social, environmental, and cognitive justice. Drawing on emerging work around arts and concepts of collectivity as a counter to intense competition and alienation, Prof. Stack will work with interested Wall Scholars and others in theatre, film, journalism, and creative writing to expand public conversations around rankings. Much of the critical research on rankings is in academic journals that may have a high impact in academic circles, but little influence on public discourse and policy framing. She plans to organize and host a series of events with a particular focus on using arts-based approaches to discuss what education beyond rankings might look and feel like.
What Do Rankings Tell Us about Higher Education? International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Michelle Stack, Department of Educational Studies, UBC; Dr. Mary Lynn Young, School of Journalism, UBC; Dr. André Mazawi, Department of Educational Studies, UBC; Dr. Mayumi Ishikawa, Centre for Global Initiatives, Osaka University, Japan