In this, my very last Senate summary, there are important issues to contemplate arising from the most recent meeting of Senate. One that I will reserve for a separate post is the key topic of Academic Integrity, and in particular the report of the Academic Integrity workshops hosted by Senate in November 2015.
The end of 2015 is approaching with the re-entry velocity of a returning Soyuz capsule (230 metres per second) and indeed, much to my surprise, it seems that the festive season is already in full swing.
The June Senate agenda was jam-packed with important business which is no doubt reflective of the hard work going on around campus. Perhaps the recent cold snap can be blamed for encouraging us to stay in our offices and ticking off items from our to-do-lists.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was celebrating an extra two days of mathematics in Harvard Square, after a raging blizzard cancelled my flight out of Boston. Alas, that was over 3 months ago, and since then the business of Senate has advanced at a cracking pace.
In common with many Australian Universities, Macquarie is currently undergoing a major review of its approach to the question of Academic Integrity.
University Council and Academic Senate has now completed an overhaul of all of the University’s student discipline processes and we are now turning our attention to the broader issue of how best to set, communicate and reinforce positive messages in regard to the ethical behaviours we expect all University citizens to model.
Inspired by Roy & H.G’s Festival of the Boot, a two-pronged affair covering both the Australian Football League and National Rugby League Grand Finals, Macquarie University is hosting its very own Festival of Assessment. As Sherman related in a recent post on this blog, next Tuesday the 2nd December, we’ll gather together in colourful clothes and party hats to:
- discuss and provide direction on the ongoing review of Macquarie University’s Assessment Policy; and
- develop a shared view of the of the University’s expectations in regard to the moderation of the assessment lifecycle.
So why should we devote a whole day to this topic, especially in the lead in to the the festive season?
or… 8 down, 2 to go!
It seems that the year is flying by at a tremendous pace. This fact is reinforced by a quick scroll through my diary, which all-too-quickly reveals end-of-year festivities and the new year break.
As a tribute to the Macquarie University Learning and Teaching Week (which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed) and its theme of Less is More, I give you an example of something for which only more will do.
My family hail from the West Indies, or should I say much more precisely that we are proud Jamaicans.
This level of geographic specificity is important. It may look, from the outside, as if those of us from the islands of the Greater and Lesser Antilles are cut from a common cultural stock. However, for us the differences between Jamaicans, Barbadians and Trinidadians are as profound as those that separate the Scottish and the English.
Indeed it sometimes seems to me that, beyond our geographic proximity, we have only ever been bound together by three great cultural institutions – our once celebrated cricket team, the University of the West Indies, and our love of creole food. I’ll tell you a little about the last of these later on, and with luck I’ll get you cooking like a true Jamaican.
Academics are, on the whole, excellent communicators. We hone our communication skills over thousands of hours; crafting research papers, articulating our ideas at conferences, mentoring our students, and engaging in the performance art of lecturing. So one might ask “when it comes to some of the really big academic decisions we make as an institution, why is it that we are not good at getting an effective message out there and engaging in a much broader open discussion of principle and practice?”
At least part of this is a function of available time. With so many pressing issues at hand, not to mention the ever-present round of meetings, it can be hard to prioritise the time necessary to engage fully in this communication process. But that isn’t the whole story.
The University Medal has traditionally been the most prestigious award we’ve bestowed upon our undergraduate students. Beyond its academic importance, this is an honour that carries with it great cultural significance in Australian society. Some might say that it is not simply an award; it is a cultural icon for which we carry the responsibility of custodianship.
In the past, following the common practice of Australian Universities, Macquarie has restricted the award of the University Medal to Honours students and we have awarded it in recognition of academic excellence throughout their studies. However, following the retirement of most of our Honours programs the University Medal has been orphaned, and we need to consider its place anew.