There is a common understanding that if we are to overcome the challenges of climate change and build a more just and sustainable world, research and innovation coming from our universities will play a critical role. But are those universities up to the task?
A new Parkland Institute report published yesterday as part of the Corporate Mapping Project examines the implications of the research funding priorities of the federal and provincial governments for the production of the knowledge needed for an ecologically sustainable economy and society.
Knowledge for an Ecologically Sustainable Future? Innovation Policy and Alberta Universities, authored by U of A political economist Laurie Adkin, traces funding from multiple governmental and corporate sources over a period of twenty years to document which areas of energy and environmental research have been prioritized in Alberta’s leading research universities. The data confirm the heavy weighting of this investment toward fossil-fuels-related research and technology development (R&D) centred in the faculties of engineering, while areas focusing on sustainability and renewables have been underfunded by comparison.
“The conflicts identified in the report are highlighted by the Alberta government’s assertion that the post-secondary education system needs to emphasize the skills and competencies required in today’s economy and job market,” says Adkin. “This would mean continuing to privilege skills and competencies related to the extractive industries. We should instead be thinking about the future Alberta—one that can provide sustainable and diverse livelihoods and a high quality of life within ecological limits. Building this future will require vocal and principled leadership on the part of academics and university administrators.”
We also wanted to let you know about an upcoming change at the Parkland Institute. Effective July 1 our long-time executive director, Ricardo Acuña, will be taking a two-year leave from his Parkland duties to serve a term as President of the Association of Academic Staff at the University of Alberta (AASUA). We are thrilled to announce that Parkland has hired Bill Moore-Kilgannon, a familiar name to many of you, into the position of Executive Director (Acting) for the duration of Ricardo’s leave.
In addition to having been executive director of Parkland Institute in its early years, Bill has worked as campaigns director for the Council of Canadians, Executive Director for Public Interest Alberta, and Chief of Staff for a number of ministries in the Alberta government. We are very happy to have someone with his experience, knowledge, and networks step into the position.
Finally, we want to acknowledge that none of the work we do at Parkland would be possible without the support of Albertans like you. We know that the current pandemic has had a deep impact on the ability of many people to donate to important causes. As you can imagine, this has also placed a strain on our finances here at Parkland. We would like to ask, therefore, if you are able to afford even a small donation that you visit our website and do so. If you are already a donor, we thank you and ask if you would consider making a special extra donation or increasing your monthly gift. The work we do for the public interest depends on it. Thank you!
Yours for a better Alberta,
The Parkland Team
(Trevor, Sharlene, Ian, Rebecca, and for now, Ricardo)