Empowering knowledge and informed consent

Grant selection seasons bring forward dozens of individual complaints from disappointed applicants in every province in Canada, yet the task of looking at the global picture and at the real causes for these often regrettable situations, is often taken up by very few colleagues. The responsibility of questioning government’s priorities that lead to these situations, and bureaucracy’s ways of making funding decisions that exacerbate them, are also left to an even fewer number of individuals.

Sometimes, “underground democracy” initiatives emerge from nowhere, and succeed before they fade away.

Similarly, while buoyed by the overwhelming support of the UBC faculty, I sometimes feel alone and helpless, in the face of often-irreversible Board decision-making. I yearn for the counsel and advice of colleagues, but how do you get them and where do you start when they are not even aware of the issues under discussion? Yet, they are the first to feel the consequences on their professional lives.

Knowledge is power is less clichésque than you think. Information can change people’s global outlook. Transparency forces accountability, and the knowledge that knowledge is available is a major deterrent against stupid or corrupt decision making. But also, nothing is more rewarding than informed consent. Let me try a few examples:

Knowledge is power, and sharing it is even more empowering. I will sketch in the next two posts a few ideas on how an attempt  can be made through this blog to work for Canada and for its institutions of higher learning.

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