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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 2009

Rocher Speech Available Online

A copy of Guy Rocher’s recent speech to CAUT Council is available for viewing online.

In “Truth as a Value and a Practice: A Perpetual Issue in Post-Secondary Education,” the winner of CAUT’s 2009 Distinguished Aca­demic Award says that academic staff associations must take respon­sibility for safeguarding the culture of truth.

“Truth is the fundamental, essential, ontological and epistemological value on which, in the final analysis, everything that we call knowledge, learning, our sciences and disciplines rests,” Rocher said. “The greatness of the mission of our colleges and universities lies in the pursuit of truth and of truths in all their forms, and the respect for truth. In today’s society as in times past, colleges and universities are the tangi­ble, living representatives of respect for intelligence and truth. It is their responsibility, and that of academic staff, to fulfill this role, defend it, preserve it and assert it.”

But he adds that “our post-secon­dary institutions and professions exist in the midst of power relationships, conflicts of interest and conflicts of values. Political and econo­mic powers can be the guardians and protectors of academic freedom or its enemies” and while institutions should resist all “utilitarian attempts by power interests to take over or hijack knowledge,” administrators have not always been above the fray of late.

“Authorities and managers of our academic institutions are not always the best promoters and defenders of their academic staffs,” Rocher said, adding “it is one of the missions — I would venture to say, perhaps the main mission — of our associations and unions to protect independence and freedom in research and teaching and our right to free involvement in our society.”