Academic Callings

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The Academic Callings Project


The University We Have Had, Now Have, and Could Have.

Published by Canadian Scholars Press Inc., February, 2010

The Academic Callings Project is the work of two Canadian sociologists, Janice Newson of York University and Claire Polster of the University of Regina. The idea for this project came to us three years ago in a moment of discouragement about the speed with which universities were acquiring an increasingly corporate face and acceding to pressures to commercialize their endeavours. Although our own attempts to challenge these changes seemed to not have had much effect, they led us to colleagues scattered throughout Canadian universities who, in the face of these developments, were actively engaged in a variety of efforts to preserve the distinct intellectual and educational mandate of the public-serving university. Their voices joined together, we thought, could inspire and encourage others, especially the new generation of academics who will soon assume leadership of these institutions, to engage in these efforts as well.

We created The Academic Callings Project for this purpose. We invited twenty-nine of these colleagues to write a reflective essay about their life in the university, focusing on how they have responded to the changes that have taken place over the course of their careers, and how they have attempted, and are attempting to shape the university according to their vision of the university as a public-serving institution.

Each essay in the collection is front-line testimony to what makes academic life worth pursuing. It tells us what matters to the writer about being an academic, the roles he/she has played in helping to shape the Canadian university, and the concerns and hopes they hold for its future. Together the writers call out to others to share these concerns and hopes and to advocate for a vision of the university as a place that nurtures creative intellectual work and critical thinking and cultivates a vibrant democratic culture.