Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ontario: let's prioritize our universities, our youth and our future

Following is a message that I have sent to my local candidates in the upcoming Ontario election. In my opinion it is timely for my generation to ask some tough questions about the appropriateness of the burdens we place on our young, and to ask ourselves instead to shoulder our own responsibilities towards the next and coming generations. (For friends in the library community - similar arguments can be made for supporting libraries. My perspective is that all of us advocating for the public good can be most effective if we work together and support the broader principles and causes in addition to the specific ones we feel most passionate about or responsible for).

Dear candidates:

It is timely for Ontario and Canada at large to prioritize our universities, our youth and our future. Healthy economies and communities need a well-educated population and leading-edge research to develop the knowledge, skills and businesses necessary to meet the challenges of the near and far future of this province. While Canada expects our youth to "invest" in their future, paying high tuition fees and often racking up debt, other countries provide free or very low-cost higher education, and in some cases even full scholarships for students to study in other countries (like Canada). What kind of society places its burdens on its young? Not, I argue, a society that is thinking about its future. Let us all acknowledge and take responsibility for the next and coming generations.

It is no accident that the world's major economic superpowers such as the U.S. and the U.K. invest heavily in academic research. New knowledge inspires new ideas, problem-solving, new technologies and businesses. A strong and healthy university system, one capable of recruiting and retaining the best and brightest by supporting attractive academic positions and the associated research, is a wise investment for a strong and healthy future for Ontario in our rapidly changing global knowledge society and economy.