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Academic Advisor

Academic Advisor

J.T. of Ottawa writes:

I teach, on a contract basis, one of six sections of an introductory commerce course. A tenure-track faculty member recently appointed to “coordinate” the sections is now micromanaging my reading list and evaluation methods. What can I do?

David Robinson, CAUT executive director, answers:

Academic freedom grants you control over course design, content, and evaluation. At the same time, departments have an interest in ensuring consistency across multi-section courses. This consistency is best established by parties col­legially setting broad pedagogical parameters, within which individuals deliver their sections as they see fit. As contract academic staff, navigating this balance is difficult. Academic freedom accompanies all academic appointments, but is also codified in collective agreements. Before enforcing your rights, you need to determine how they apply to you. Further, does the department in question allow CAS members to participate in curriculum development? In practice, CAS are often excluded from this vital role — a violation of academic freedom and a broader threat to the professoriate. I advise you to contact your academic staff association, discuss your rights, and move forward to enforce them. This may involve filing a grievance. Equally important, participate in the broader CAS political struggle — including Fair Employment Week (Oct. 24–28, 2016). CAUT, its member associations, and allied unions use this annual event to highlight the CAS fight for justice. Join in!

Academic Advisor offers advice about your rights at work. To send in a question, write to Please include a daytime telephone number.


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