by Melanie Takefman
Rocci Luppicini and Abigail Colby Shorter are not taking the passive approach
to education. Instead of simply getting a degree, the two graduate students
are creating a forum to maximize the higher learning experience for students,
faculty, administrators, and industry.
It is because these diverse players within universities rarely communicate
or collaborate on the rapidly changing state of higher education that
Luppicini and Colby Shorter will unite them in the Millennium University
conference on March 14-15.
Getting people together who dont normally associate with
each other is a challenge, said Luppicini, co-chair of the conference
and a PhD candidate in educational technology. However, it is necessary
given the increasing co-operation of government, industry, academia and
administration in higher education.
While researchers have traditionally stayed within educational institutions,
practical experience is becoming a valuable asset for students entering
the workplace. Also, the proliferation of vocational colleges and co-operative
education programs indicates that the delivery of higher education is
at a crossroads.
The increase in different university models suggests that we should
be embracing this shift, said conference co-chair Colby Shorter,
a masters student in public administration and public policy.
The industrial and non-profit sectors (known collectively as the third
sector) are permeating higher education more than ever before, and
shifting the balance between public and private funding that has long
sustained Canadian universities. Some disciplines benefit from new resources
more than others, and this inequality can cause tension.
To make the most of these changes, Luppicini and Colby Shorter will encourage
members of the three sectors to bring their distinct perspectives to bear
on their ramifications.
The conference is organized into three panels: policy, research and governance.
Each theme will consist of a plenary talk followed by panel speakers and
discussions. Intellectual property as well as the idea of technology replacing
faculty are among topics to be debated.
Speakers will include Quebecs Minister of Education Sylvain Simard,
Maria Peluso, president of the Concordia University Part-Time Faculty
Association and a political science professor, and Concordias rector,
The conference will also honour sociologist Charles Tilly of Columbia
Universitys New School for Social Research in New York City.
Despite the prestigious roster of speakers, Luppicini and Colby Shorter
are determined to reap concrete benefits for students at the conference.
One idea is to develop a mentorship program for all students that would
give them access to professional resources like an editing job banks for
journalism students, Colby Shorter said. At the moment, she added, there
is a disconnect [between] training and education and their application
in the workplace.
The conference is free for all students and will take place in various
venues at Concordia and McGill.
Being that the conference is the first of its kind, Luppicini and Colby
Shorter hope that it will draw positive attention to Concordias
academics, and thereby better job opportunities for graduates.
Because the conferences organizers worked under the title of a
graduate and researcher consortium, the Millennium University Lecture
Series could easily be mobile. Its an opportunity thats
open. Its not embedded in any institution, Colby Shorter said.
She added that she would like to see the conference become a regular forum
for the analysis of higher education in the future.
For the conference schedule, visit the Millennium University Web site