Archive for Kwantlen

Saudi “scholarship students” leaving Canada

I’ve had a number of superb students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University from that country. This is awful news.

From Inside Higher Ed this morning:

Saudi Arabian students in Canada are caught in diplomatic crossfire.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education is making plans to transfer students out of Canada to institutions in other countries after a diplomatic meltdown between the two countries sparked by Canada’s criticism of the kingdom’s arrest and detention of human rights activists.

A spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s education ministry said on Twitter that the ministry is “working on preparing and implementing an emergency plan to facilitate the transfer of our students to other countries.”

CNN reported that 7,000 Saudi students on government scholarships in Canada will be relocated.

Dan Drezner of the Washington Post has three “not mutually exclusive” explanations for the Saudi action:

– Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is “trying to demonstrate that he is in control [in his country], even if these sanctions will not lead to any Canadian concessions.” …

– “Another possibility is that these sanctions are less about compelling Canada and more about deterring other Western countries from criticizing Saudi Arabia.”

There is one final, more speculative explanation. There has been some recent international relations research into “prestige goods” or “Veblen goods,” things that states spend costly sums of money on with little tangible return. … As I explained this summer: “Veblen goods are positional goods, in which demand increases along with price because the good is seen as a display of prestige. Veblen goods can explain why some countries choose to invest in aircraft carriers or space programs when they should be allocating scarce resources elsewhere.” …

Maybe, just maybe, economic sanctions themselves have become a kind of Veblen good. Not many countries have the resources to impose economic sanctions of any kind on another state in world politics. The United States sanctions a lot, the European Union sanctions some, so do Russia and China, and then . . . crickets.

Except for Saudi Arabia. If Saudi Arabia is seen as a country that can sanction others, it starts to look more like a great power. The very fact that these sanctions are costly is what makes them such a compelling Veblen good. According to this logic, it does not matter whether they work: Most sanctions fail anyway. What makes them successful is that Mohammed has demonstrated that he can impose them in the first place.

A surprise

I once asked a student of mine, who was finishing her degree in fashion design, why women found purses and handbags so important. She said, “They are just like us. They are beautiful on the outside, and there is everything you need on the inside.”

Summer term

Summer is my favourite time to teach. The long hours of sunshine leaven my mood and extend my focus. Students seem happy. Colleagues relax. Goodness knows how much trouble I’d get into if I actually had a “summer vacation”!

This semester I’m teaching Advanced Professional Communications and Technical Report Writing. These are not the most promising-sounding course titles, I know, but the coursework is often stimulating, if not exactly enchanting.

The Wilson School of Design

Students in the design programs at Kwantlen Polytechnic University are some of the most talented people I have ever met. These programs just got themselves a beautiful new building.

The new Wilson School of Design will add 140 full-time seats for a total of 681 spaces for design students. New facilities will include innovative teaching studios and labs, a testing centre, gallery space and expanded study and design spaces for students. It will also house advanced technology, such as laser cutters, 3D printers and ultrasonic welders. …

The $36-million building will provide a space for a range of existing design programs at KPU, such as the bachelor of design in fashion and technology, bachelor of interior design and continuing and professional education. It will also house KPU’s product design and technical apparel design programs, which educate students in the development of performance, technical, medical and protective apparel and gear. …

“B.C.’s environment creates a demand for technical apparel that is unparalleled in the world,” said Chip Wilson. “The province is home to world-class technical apparel companies, and we now have a state-of-the-art facility and training programs to supply the technical demand.” …

“Our vision is for B.C. to continue as a globally recognized leader in athletic performance apparel,” said Shannon Wilson. “Chip and I share a passion for nurturing creative talent, and we are thrilled to partner with KPU to help develop the next generation of designers and innovators.”

The $36-million Wilson School of Design building was funded through a $12-million contribution from the B.C. government, $12 million from KPU and $12 million in donations that include $8 million from Chip and Shannon Wilson.

I’m proud of my school.

Honour Code

ghostwriting copy

We’re entering the third week of the fall semester at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and I am very much enjoying my two Advanced Professional Communications classes.

This semester KPU’s Richmond campus has seen the reappearance of posters advertising “ghostwriting” services to Chinese students. The service charges $60 per double-spaced page and guarantees that the results will fool plagiarism-detection programs.

It is depressing to consider the possibility that any of my students would hire a ghostwriter to complete their assignments. I tell my whippersnappers that I can always detect a change in their use of language, and whether that change has resulted from his or her own improvement or from a substitution of author. Alas, this is more difficult for me to pull off in an online course, in which students can hire another person to complete *all* of the assignments (but not the final exam, unless they forge an I.D. to get seated).

Summer teaching

Tomorrow I meet the students in my Advanced Professional Communications class for the first time, out at Kwantlen Polytechnic University‘s Surrey campus. What a splendid gig I have!

Friday night lights

My advanced-communications students have their final exam tonight – a Friday night! I made the exam short and, if not sweet, at least not sour. I have not met these students in person before; I taught this course online for the first time this semester; it will be good to see their faces.

It will be good just to go outside in the sunshine. For almost three weeks I’ve been holed up at home, nursing an abscess in my jaw and whining about it insufferably. (If you complain about the same thing at least three times in the same hour, you are no longer complaining; you are *whining*. My personal definition.) The jaw feels a bit better today and, as I said, there is sunshine out there.