Annette Burfoot, Statement in Support of Senate Motion for Curriculum Committee Approval of all For-Credit Courses, Programs, and Activities (30 October 2012)

By Professor Annette Burfoot (Sociology).  As read in Queen’s Senate in support of the motion, 30 October 2012; posted by permission. (The motion was voted down, 25-20.)

When I began work at Queens in 1989, serving in Senate was a privilege to be earned and attendance at Faculty Board was assigned to all members of my department on a rotation basis.  We were enough full time faculty that we each attended only twice a year. Working on the Faculty Curriculum Committee was an onerous job (all new courses and substantial course changes went through this committee) and it took time as its members carefully deliberated over each case.

And now most faculty would be only too happy to give up all three levels of careful academic assessment given heavy teaching and supervisory loads (the number of FTE faculty in my department is less than half of what is was when I started at Queens with no sign of new positions and more retirements looming) alongside incredible expectations to lead in profitable research.

But if what we do here at this university is of any value, we shouldn’t accept this trend to forgo a key part of academic accreditation. I firmly believe that Queen’s greatest asset is its reputation as providing an excellent, primarily undergraduate education. Yes, we have very good graduate programs and yes, we have some leading researchers and some ground-breaking projects. But all of this is based on this place as providing a solid post-secondary education. As we bend and twist curriculum, courses and programs to meet stated financial exigencies and provincial calls for increasing graduate enrolments, that base has become seriously eroded. I am against neither technological innovation in the classroom (I have used it from acetate overheads and video clips to iclickers, Moodle and video streaming) nor satellite education (I taught in both Belleville and Brockville throughout long winters on the 401 several times). But then, the administrative cart did not pull the pedagogical horse.

I heartily support this motion which is simply confirming that all Queen’s credited courses follow a Senate-driven, faculty and unit-involved process of accreditation.

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