9 Chapter 9: The Politics in, and of, Postsecondary Education

A. Session Introduction

In Canada, scandals surrounding governance are relatively scarce. Recently, however, the University of Calgary found itself in hot water after a CBC investigation examined the nature of the University’s relationship with Tar Sands corporations. Read the following news articles (and pay attention to the dates and how the story progresses). Following that, read an academic article that examines some campaigns from Canadian universities to divest various funds from the fossil fuel industry. Finally, watch an interview with between Brock’s ADED Director, Dr. Robert McGray, and one of the CAUT investigators, Dr. Len Findlay.


Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

B. Learning Outcomes

At the end of this session, you should be able to:

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplas
  • Identify conflicts of interest and areas susceptible to conflicts in postsecondary governance
  • Consider ethics surrounding sponsorship in postsecondary institutions
  • Understand an example of a (possible) conflict of interest related to sponsorship at a Canadian postsecondary institution

C. Session Resources

*Read in the order presented here*

CBC News. (2015, November 4). How the University of Calgary’s Enbridge relationship became controversial.Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/university-calgary-enbridge-sponsorship-1.3286369 [This article was originally published on Nov. 2, 2015 and updated on Nov. 4, so if you’re following along with the dates as advised above, this article technically came first].

Mayer, F. (2015, November 2). U of C president admits mishandling of Enbridge sponsorship. Retrieved from http://www.thegauntlet.ca/u-of-c-president-admits-mishandling-of-enbridge-sponsorship/

Asad, S. (2017, May 26). Professor removed from Enbridge investigation amidst bias allegation says investigation not over. Retrieved from http://www.thegauntlet.ca/professor-removed-from-enbridge-investigation-amidst-bias-allegation-says-investigation-not-over/

McGray, R. & Turcotte-Summers, J. (2017). Austerity-privacy and fossil fuel divestment activism at Canadian universitiesAustralian Universities’ Review, 59(2), 36-49. Retrieved from http://www.aur.org.au [Skim the first few sections; Begin reading at “The case of divestment in Canadian universities” heading]

Watch video interview with CAUT Investigator Len Findlay https://echo360.ca/media/d38c979c-0355-4e12-ac5f-91b244edfbd4/public

D. Learning Activities

Using this week’s readings as support, answer at least three of the five questions listed below:

  • When is it ethical for a postsecondary institution to accept sponsorship(s) with for-profit companies? What about non-profit organizations?
  • What is ethical for a postsecondary institution to offer a sponsor?
  • What constitutes bias in decision making?
  • What should the relationship be between for-profit companies and public postsecondary institutions?