Tuesday, May 15, 2012

University Involvement in the Community

On the first of June 1970, 25 university professors and community leaders got together in Gardiner Mines, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, for a seminar entitled, University Involvement in the Community, organized by Bill Shaw, Don Arseneau, Greg MacLeod, and George Topshee. While the topic could have wide-reaching interest, the seminar was convened specifically with reference to the institution now known as Cape Breton University.

The participants observed that:
there was a disconnect between the University and its surrounding community,
faculty have an obligation to offer constructive criticism with respect to public policy and planning,
an interdisciplinary approach should be taken when offering solutions,
a formal interface should be established between the University and the community,
a faculty member wishing to become actively involved in community work should be provided with relief from their teaching load,
students should part of any related initiative,
and that the ideals and values of society should be questioned and evaluated.

Among the methods suggested to act upon these observations, the participants specified that:
the University must take a new form, one in which it would be immersed in the work-a-day world,
the University provide a breeding ground for interchange and creation of ideas,
an institute be established as a center for interdisciplinary research into regional problems,
the University provide a budget ($25K) for the institute,
the University provide staff support for the institute,
and a committee be established to seek out appropriate research proposals.

If such a seminar were held today, I wonder if the outcomes would be any different?

An introductory overview, together with a copy of the seminar program, and the papers presented were bound, and placed in the Bras d'Or Collection at the Cape Breton University Library.