Here are just a few of the comments from Alexander Beecroft’s Change.org petition against the suspension of Arts programs proposed in Dean Lesley Cormack’s memorandum of 16 August 2013. The petition now has over 700 signatures.
Jackie Chen, Asian Languages, UCLA
A university cannot be considered a university if it operates solely according to a market logic of counting majors. A university must think about the bigger picture, the long-term view, the scope of all knowledge — only then does it deserve to be called a university.
Margaret Lewis, Rugby, UK
Determining the future direction of the dissemination of knowledge by what is currently deemed “useful” seems very dangerous. The training these degrees can offer is invaluable, and the routes to wider thought that they provide should be part of the purpose of a university.
Brian Cantwell Smith, Toronto
I think torquing the university to do that which is “relevant and of interest to students” is a very reactive, commercial, and spineless mandate for a university. The university should inspire students to be interested in issues of gravity and consequence. It should be a resource for society’s moral compass — not a “consumer-driven” instrument of political agendas.
Gyllian Raby, St. Catharines
Responding to change with emotional intelligence is humanity’s best hope as new frontiers of nano technology change everything we know. The humanities enable us to construct the future out of the past, to see ourselves, and to value liveness. They are necessary to balance the number of MBA’s generated by the university system, where students are taught to repress empathy and to view human beings as resources.
J. Maureen Curran, New Westminster
Any province as rich as Alberta should be ashamed to cut education, period! But when it comes to choosing how to save the money that the greedy government has snatched away, the university has to make better choices. Destroying programs that are proven to be successful and are wanted is not the way to go. If businesses want more biz-oriented programs instead, get THEM to fund them, not tax payers. We pay our taxes to fund programs for the students, NOT for companies.
Katie Trumpener, New Haven
BA Alberta 1982 and now Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Yale. Even in my day, the Humanities were embattled, and in recent years, their footprint has shrunk even as dozens of new applied science buildings have shot up. It is crucial that liberal arts remain at the heart of the university. This is crucial for the students of Alberta. Moreover, MANY graduates of these programs esp Classics have gone on to become prominent academics. Alberta’s Humanities are crucial to the future of the liberal arts in Canada.
Mark Grenon, Montréal
These cuts appear motivated by market ideology, as opposed to pedagogical considerations.
Kathleen Cawsey, Halifax
The Humanities generally fund the rest of the university — classes are usually larger, and research costs significantly less, than in other disciplines. Furthermore, judging the importance of a program solely based on size is ridiculous — we may not need a thousand graduates in Middle Eastern Studies (and they wouldn’t get jobs), but Canada is in for a poor future if we don’t have at least some graduates in Middle Eastern studies, helping out the rest of us.
John Valleau, Toronto
I am sorry to see such a completely supine response to this further government move to steer the nature of our institutes of higher learning toward triviality. Such an academic decision should require full faculty (and student) discussion, not appeal to the arbitrary and non-academic principle for resource allocation quoted above. I hope the decision can be reconsidered by a more scholarly process.
The petition is here.