Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sweeping agreements will further degrade university education in Ontario, "Canada"

 By Denis G. Rancourt

In mid-summer vacations we learned from the media that the "Ontario government has signed a sweeping set of agreements with universities and colleges that will oblige them to choose areas of specialty and avoid overlapping programs with one another". [1]

This is a structural change that goes to the heart of institutional identity and jurisdiction. Thus, it is important to ask what the large societal forces are that have driven this change, and what the foreseeable consequences of this change might be.

The significance of this massive legal and structural re-organization of the higher-education complex in Ontario is confirmed by the facts that these changes:
  • were not subject to public consultation;
  • were made entirely my management without seeking university senate approvals; 
  • were negotiated behind closed doors without collegial participation;
  • were announced when the students are away.

Since their creation, universities in Ontario have been independent bodies. This independence is statutory. Each university derives its legal authority from a law enacted by the provincial parliament. This gives each institution the responsibility to develop its academic programs through a collegial process culminating in decisions made by the university senate, subject to the management of financial funds overseen by the university board of governors.

The idea is that a university is suppose to serve the needs of the local (city and regional) population, although not exclusively, and that the collegial process involving students, professors, and community members, is best suited to identifying academic needs.

The university administrations (the executives) have now sold-off institutional independence without a fight, and without consulting their communities. They have collaborated with the service executives that run the province.

Increased specialization will necessarily have large societal costs, that will be paid by students and their families. Students will need to travel further and live away from home sooner, at great extra costs, without the option of a local institution that offers a desired program.

Increased specialization will eliminate much healthy inter-university competition, both competition for enrollments and intellectual competition between departments in a given academic discipline. Whereas, larger academic departments are known to be more hierarchical, often at the expense of the individual academic freedoms of professors and students.

As it stands, there is more variation in brilliance from professor to professor (and from student to student) than variation in brilliance from university to university. The academic reputation and influence of an individual researcher is relatively easy to gauge whereas the academic reputation of a department or university is ill-defined, and more often than not simply and superficially tied to size, and thus arising from the department's or university's political weight within the discipline.

Increased specialization will force-out individual brilliance by subjecting all the professors and students within a discipline to be subjugated to the authority of a large departmental hierarchy. All such hierarchies tend towards schools of thought, normalization of investigative procedures, and so on -- they constrain and stifle creativity and risk-taking.  

Increased specialization represents monopolizing and cantonizing of academic disciplines. The relative fluid ability that an institution possessed to create new programs and research areas will be replaced by fossilization tied to provincial funding.

Furthermore, the increased specialization will not produce savings for the province. Where are the studies that predict such savings and what are the underlying assumptions of those calculations?

The promise of savings for the province is a false pretext to achieve specialization. As with virtually all institutional changes, specialization is driven by covert underlying forces. Namely, the natural forces towards sharpening and consolidation of hierarchical control of the economy and of people who populate the economy. [2]

Specialization serves "globalization" and "corporatization" -- that is, further vassalization of "Canada" into the US corporate-military-finance empire (Empire).

Specialization of Ontario's higher-education complex enables a tighter control on students and professors in view of accepting "globalization", and of accepting their roles within the globalization project. Specialization facilitates indoctrination into the logic of the US corporate-military-finance empire. The mechanisms are as follows:

  • Cross-fertalization between disciplines is physically barred.
  • Disciplines that are potential threats are physically isolated and hierarchically controlled.
  • Students with different perspectives cannot physically meet.
  • Students in a given location are controlled by a single administration, allowing tighter discipline.
  • Students are virtually all away from home and thus more vulnerable to hermetical training and indoctrination.

As a result, a student is more tightly indoctrinated into his/her role in the service of the Empire, and is thus made more stupid than he/she otherwise would be. He/she is also less able to adapt to any other role than the prescribed role -- a dangerous attribute in a changing world.

To give ONE EXAMPLE, the main geopolitical obsession of the US corporate-military-finance empire these days is its policy in the Middle East. Empire strategists believe that controlling the Middle East allows the US to control access to energy, and thus control development and a strategic resource. This militarily-enforced control of the Middle East and of the exploited realm also allows the US to impose the US-dollar as the World (energy) currency, and the dollar (which the US prints), in turn, is the empire's main economic exploitation device. [3][4]

In order to keep control in the Middle East, the US must constantly prevent the Arab Wold from coalescing and liberating itself. It must generate controlled perpetual war, as needed. It must kill Arabs. Its main agent in the region is Israel. [3][5]

In order to help make its perpetual waring acceptable to the citizens of the Empire, there must be a "war on terror", and there must be Islamaphobia, including regular discoveries of "sleeper agents", "terrorist plots", and so on [6]. All this is difficult to swallow for many students (professors generally have an easier time).

Overall, their is a risk that the Empire's perpetual waring, including Israel's pet project of its genocide against Palestinians, will become fatally unsavory to liberal citizens of the Empire (except in Israel where killing Arabs is, by necessity, culturally normalized by state indoctrination and enforcement). The main agent at home to align political positions, thought, and discourse on Israel is the Israel Lobby [3][7][8]. But the Lobby is becoming insufficient. Campuses are alight with "Israeli Apartheid Weeks" and with "BDS campaigns". And genocides and war crimes seen on YouTube make people quite angry.

One part of the solution, for universities, is a classic divide and conquer: Specialization. [9]

When campuses become unimodal professional-training boot camps, there is no campus activism that could poison societal consciousness [10]. And the professors are not disturbed by colleagues in other fields having different perspectives.


[1] "Ontario unveils deal with universities, colleges to specialize programs" by Adrian Morrow, Globe & Mail, August 8, 2014.

[2] "Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism" by Denis G. Rancourt, Stairway Press, Mount Vernon, WA, 2013; see chapter entitled "Institutions Naturally Evolve Toward More Control".

[3] "The Intended Roles of the Israel-Lobby and of Israel in the US-Empire are Incompatible with Peace" by Denis G. Rancourt, July 30, 2014; -- and at Dissident Voice.

[4] "Global Economic Model of War: Understanding Syria and more" by Denis G. Rancourt, September 3, 2013; -- and at Veterans Today.

[5] "Israel's attempted genocide must fail -- Lessons from Canada's genocide" by Denis G. Rancourt, July 29, 2014; -- and at Dissident Voice.

[6] "Canadian judge goes bonkers on a thought crime: Case of Mohamed Hersi defended by lawyer Paul Slansky" by Denis G. Rancourt, July 25, 2014.

[7] "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen; New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

[8] "The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering" by Norman G. Finkelstein, Verso, NY, 2000.

[9] Similarly, all the major societal changes that have occurred in Canada since Jean Chrétien was ousted -- prominence of the Israel Lobby, change of position on Palestine at the UN, seeking foreign investments as the main economic "motor", allowing exponential increase in foreign ownership, privatization of public holdings, change of geopolitical stance from peace-keeping to war-mongering, treatment of refugees and immigration policy, politicization/corporatization/globalization of universities, militarization of police, surveillance practices, increased criminalization of citizens, reduction of democratic processes, alignment of the media, ... -- are attributable to the on-going vassalization of "Canada" into the US corporate-military-finance empire, and its pillaging.

[10] See "Disciplined Minds -- A Critical Look at Salaried Professionals and the Soul-Battering System that Shapes their Lives" by Jeff Schmidt; Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.

Dr. Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured and Full Professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is known for his applications of physics education research (TVO Interview). He has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and has written several social commentary essays. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. While he was at the University of Ottawa, he supported student activism and opposed the influence of the Israel lobby on that institution, which fired him for a false pretext in 2009: LINK

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