June 8, 2015
CAFE Student Representative Report
Canadian Association of Foundations of Education AGM
Held on June 2, 2015 at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, Ottawa
My comments have a lot to do with my current work on conceptualizing “academic citizenship” (of both students and faculty), as well as implementing what I theorize in practice. My guiding questions are, “At what point does a graduate student become a full-fledged academic citizen?” and “What does it take to be a good faculty/student academic citizen?” This conceptualization is closely linked to boosting the status of Foundations of Education.
Revisiting AGM 214 Proposals
In considering the importance of opening up venues that would help ensure that Foundations scholarship will live on and thrive, let me revisit two points from last year’s Student Rep Proposals , which consultations with fellow graduate students had foregrounded.
- Student Conference Presentations. There has to be a way to increase the low number of students at the annual conferences, and especially of those presenting. Not only is giving presentations a criterion in assessments for scholarships and a requirement, at least at some universities, for becoming eligible (with no guarantee) for certain types of conference funding. More crucially, this activity helps to broaden students’ academic knowledge/per-spective, taking overall academic agency to a new level. (Cf. Last year’s idea to consider adding alternative format sessions, e.g., poster-type sessions, in view of the very limited number of CSSE presentation slots, which may spark interest for the conferences to come.)
- Faculty Awards. CAFE’s ratification of the proposal for Faculty Mentorship Awards, along with the Student Thesis Awards, is very encouraging, given the devolving status of teaching in the neoliberal context. This kind of recognition promises to enhance awareness of the value of educating and getting educated in History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Education, and to make multiple aspects of good Foundations work better known.
In order to recognize more good thesis work, at the AGM and in email discussions I proposed for consideration to complement the limited number of “awards” with “nomination certificates” for all nominated theses that meet the officially announced requirements. (Please see AGM Postscript for a revised proposal — “Thematic Awards” for thesis and faculty awards.)
Congress 2015 Take-away
Some especially encouraging feedback has come from this year’s PES conference: student presenters, mostly Master’s students, have repeatedly acknowledged how enriching their graduate studies in Foundations have been for their teaching practice. The PES journal editors have emphatically encouraged submissions from graduate students and junior academics.
The Foundational Is Political
As a follow-up to the May 31 pre-conference panel on the status of Foundations, I full-heartedly welcome ideas like the proposal of Dr. Helen Raptis to verbalize explicitly the distinctive Mission of Foundations/CAFE, developing effective rhetoric. By extension, it may be useful to consider formulating customized arguments for key categories of actors/stakeholders. For example, what would make Foundations most attractive to students and increase enrollment; what would best motivate university administration/Human Resources not to cut hires in the area; what would convincingly justify the feasibility and sustainability of Foundations programs/courses/hires from the point of view of various levels of policy makers and sponsors.
CAFE can be the organization that can help preserve on record successful initiatives and even literal language, so that future political action on behalf of faculty and students can be channelled most appropriately, meeting specific conditions across institutions and provinces.
Increasing the Number of Student Reps
At the end of my two-year mandate as CAFE student representative, I would like to invite the membership to consider increasing the number of student reps from one to [any number] more than one. Appreciating the educational value of serving as a rep, I would encourage students present at the meeting to volunteer for the position. The work involves giving student input in periodic email votes/discussions concerning CAFE traditional and new initiatives.
The student constituency of CAFE owes special thanks to Dr. O’Sullivan for proposing to assign specialised rep roles to all nominated students. As a result, CAFE students currently have an unprecedented number of reps, four, to channel students’ creative contributions to CAFE governance.
I look forward to next year’s Congress and future CAFE initiatives educating students for all-round academic citizenship.
CAFE student rep May 2013 – May 2015
PhD student, OISE (PhilEd profile)
University of Toronto
* * *
Following the AGM, consultations with students and faculty have yielded two proposals:
- Faculty Awards: should CAFE opt to take into account that faculty can be outstanding in educating undergraduate students as well, perhaps there should be two categories with specialized requirements — Graduate and Undergraduate Mentorship Awards.
- “Thematic Thesis Awards”: In lieu of the proposal for a combination of “awards” and “nomination certificates” in order to recognize/make known more good thesis work, CAFE may consider what can be termed “Thematic Awards” as a way out of the unsolvable problem of fair ranking and selection among a variety of (incommensurable) styles and approaches. Rather than a problematic Yes/No determination, the awards for theses that meet the official requirements can be assigned/named according to the recipients’ unique combinations of strengths/contributions, as outlined in the nomination letters and as noted by the reviewers.