University Commons Divided: Exploring Debate & Dissent on Campus

By Peter MacKinnon

© 2018

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: UTP Insights
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 168 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 8.9in
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SKU# SP005289

  • PUBLISHED JAN 2018

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    Regular Price: $24.95

    ISBN 9781487522827
  • PUBLISHED JAN 2018

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    ISBN 9781487503703
  • PUBLISHED JAN 2018

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Quick Overview

Investigating issues of university governance in Canada, University Commons Divided analyzes several major cases at the university level that have come to exemplify infringements on the freedom of expression

University Commons Divided: Exploring Debate & Dissent on Campus

By Peter MacKinnon

© 2018

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.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: UTP Insights
  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 168 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.5in x 8.9in
  • Reviews

    "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
  • Author Information

    Peter MacKinnon is a president emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
  • Table of contents

    1. Governance and Academic Freedom at UBC
      The Jennifer Berdahl Case
    2. Sexual Transgressions at Dalhousie
      Dentistry Students on Facebook
    3. Safe Space, Comfort and Freedom of Expression
      Stories from across Canada
    4. Academic Freedom and Governance: A Reprise
      Carleton's Blogging Board Member
    5. Freedom of Religion in the Commons
      A Law School for Trinity Western University?
    6. Making the World a Better Place
      The Social Responsibility of Canadian Universities
    7. Conclusion