University Commons Divided: Exploring Debate & Dissent on Campus
Published: January 2018© 2018
168 Pages, 6.00 x 8.90 x 0.50 in
In recent years, a number of controversies have emerged from inside Canadian universities. While some of these controversies reflect debates occurring at a broader societal level, others are unique to the culture of universities and the way in which they are governed. In University Commons Divided, Peter MacKinnon provides close readings of a range of recent incidents with a view to exploring new challenges within universities and the extent to which the idea of the university as ‘commons,’ a site for open and contentious disagreement, may be under threat.
Among the incidents addressed in this book are the Jennifer Berdahl case in which a UBC professor alleged a violation of her academic freedom when she was phoned by the university's board chair to discuss her blog on which she speculated about the reasons for the university president's departure from office; the case of Root Gorelick, a Carleton University biologist and member of the university’s board of governors who refused to sign a code of conduct preventing public discussion of internal board discussions; the Facebook scandal at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry in which male students posted misogynistic comments about their female classmates. These and many other examples of turmoil in universities across the country are used to reach new insights on the state of freedom of expression and academic governance in the contemporary university.
Accessibly written and perceptively argued, University Commons Divided is a timely and bold examination of the pressures seeking to transform the culture and governance of universities.
- Governance and Academic Freedom at UBC
The Jennifer Berdahl Case
- Sexual Transgressions at Dalhousie
Dentistry Students on Facebook
- Safe Space, Comfort and Freedom of Expression
Stories from across Canada
- Academic Freedom and Governance: A Reprise
Carleton's Blogging Board Member
- Freedom of Religion in the Commons
A Law School for Trinity Western University?
- Making the World a Better Place
The Social Responsibility of Canadian Universities
"This book, [Mackinnon’s] second treatise on university governance, rings alarm bells about the direction of Canadian higher education…[it] is a worthwhile contribution, and the author deserves credit for writing frankly and provocatively.."Paul Axelrod, Albertaviews (online) August 21, 2018
"Written in easily-digestible prose, University Commons Divided is an excellent resource for students of higher education, university governance, or Canadian law."Summer Cowley, University of Toronto, Canadian Journal of Higher Education, vol 48 2 2018
"MacKinnon is an excellent lawyer, clear analytical thinker and graceful writer which, combined with his long and successful presidencies, ideally positions him to address these issues. His book will be a valued addition to thinking hard about universities and the challenges they present.”J Robert S Prichard, OC, OOnt, President Emeritus, University of Toronto
- Short-listed - The Donner Prize awarded by the Donner Canadian Foundation