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I sing of poetry
I was very pleased to find the article by Anita Lahey
on poetry as research in the academy (“Academic papers
get poetic,” University Affairs, January 2012). I taught
graduate students in an advanced qualitative methods
course for the Interdisciplinary PhD program at
Dalhousie University (between 2007 and 2010) about
using poetry in research, especially as a tool of analysis.
I continue to sing the praises of this method in guest
lectures. Poetry introduces an element of creativity that
many graduate students suggest they have been educated
away from, as well as an insightful lens with which to
see, hear and understand participants’ voices. I’m sorry
I missed the session of poems written about academic
papers at the Congress of the Humanities and Social
Sciences last June.
GE T POETIC
The experience of poets slash philosophers in
academe reveals the growing pains that can accompany
shifting disciplinary borders
by Anita Lahey
Dr. Bassett, a sociologist, is an assistant professor in the faculty of health professions at Dalhousie University.
I’ve seen the future of the ‘teaching’ university
i read with great interest “Time to consider a
new kind of university,” the book excerpt by Ian
Clark, David Trick and Richard Van Loon, in the
December 2011 issue. I particularly applaud this
recommendation for a new type of undergrad-
uate university in Canada. But I also say, good
luck. The parameters for such a teaching univer-
sity must be firmly and securely in place before
beginning. Will that truly happen?
I have spent much of my career at teaching-
oriented postsecondary institutions in British
Columbia. I worked at Okanagan College, an
institution with a two-year academic program
where teaching was the primary focus (any
research was on one’s own time). Then in 1989,
the college became Okanagan University College
(OUC), offering baccalaureate degrees. Teaching
was still a primary focus, modified now to
include the notion that “teaching and research”
go together. OUC quickly became a first-class
undergraduate “teaching university” with smaller
classes and close professor-student contact. In
2005, in a surprise move, the University of Brit-
ish Columbia took over and OUC became UBC
At the time of that amalgamation, the rhetoric
was all about the importance of teaching. The new
campus of UBC would be quite different from
the Vancouver campus; teaching would have a
primary place. I heard this from everyone, start-
ing with the university president and the chief
academic officer on this campus. At every oppor-
tunity I reminded administrators, colleagues and
students of the importance of teaching.
I also heard that promotion and tenure would
be dependent upon excellence in teaching; we
would have an evaluation system with teaching
at the centre. Two leading candidates for the dep-
uty vice-chancellor’s position (the head of the
campus) said that other Canadian universities
were watching to see how this campus developed.