media release

Lecture: Higher education in hot water

September 23, 2013

Cary Nelson, 1.217.356.0649,
Carolyn Lesjak, SFU FASS assoc. professor, 778.782.4333,
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035,

An American English professor who believes higher education, North America-wide, is in hot water because of declining government support will present his views in a free public lecture and faculty seminar at Simon Fraser University.

Cary Nelson, formerly president of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), 2006-2012, will present his lecture Resistance is not Futile: The Future of Higher Education on Thursday, Sept. 26, 7-9 p.m. The presentation will take place at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Studio D at SFU’s downtown campus.

Nelson, now teaching at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, will base his lecture on several books he has authored/co-authored about higher education’s fate, including a new one that he has co-authored.

Recommended Principles & Practices to Guide Academy-Industry Relationships — due out next January — defines 56 ideas about research, academic freedom, shared governance, grievance rights, conflicts of interest, and higher education ethics and transparency.

Nelson’s lecture will be relevant to a North American audience, given that the AAUP and the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) define and defend academic freedom and shared governance.

“Like universities in the United States, Canadian institutions are facing increasingly destructive pressures to simplify and quantify their educational goals, then to assess everything in numerical terms,” says Nelson.

“Canadian universities have not yet faced the kinds of anti-intellectual assaults on the humanities and scientific consensus that have plagued their American counterparts, but they shouldn’t expect to avoid these trends forever.

“Meanwhile, faculties worldwide are experiencing diminished shared governance, and the excessive use of sessional employees is undermining academic freedom.”

Nelson predicts that if faculty members and students work collectively, both locally and nationally, they’ll preserve and improve higher education at their campuses.

Among the many books Nelson has authored or co-authored are No University is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom (2010) and Academic Keywords: A Devil’s Dictionary for Higher Education.

The Department of English, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the Institute for the Humanities, the Department of Psychology, and the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU are sponsoring the lecture and faculty seminar.

Simon Fraser University is Canada's top-ranked comprehensive university and one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 120,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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