The Canadian Centre for Learning (CCL) is about to launch a new academic experience, led by professors from Canadian institutions of higher learning. The CCL will be an environment that promotes exploration and debate on any and all topics. The CCL brand is proudly non-institutional, and is not going to ask the government for permission, or seek approval of “the experts”. As an alternative to churning out degrees, the CCL will be more focused on preparing students for jobs that are actually “tied into the economy.”
Until two years ago I enjoyed working in a publicly funded university. Supporting students to find co-op employment and advance their career goals was gratifying work. Then COVID-19 arrived and with it the silencing of scientific debate about the virus, including the necessity of and risks associated with public health measures to mitigate the spread. Academic freedom was one of the first casualties of the virus.
My role included supporting co-op students to identify and constructively address work place harassment. I coordinated professional development training on topics like “trauma informed counselling” to support my colleagues working with students. It was a sad and painful irony to be on the receiving end of university-sponsored harassment and the ensuing trauma. The university sent progressively more threatening emails to submit to a medical procedure or face dismissal (de-registration for students).
Many of us are still in a state of disbelief after being dismissed for non-compliance. A science professor employed for twenty years at the same university, who is eminently qualified to speak about the nature of the virus, was dismissed because his views and personal medical decisions are unacceptable to the university.
Prior to universities adopting vaccination policies (far in excess of the CMO’s guidelines) the so-called campus Overton window of what constitutes reasonable inquiry and good governance was getting incrementally smaller. There were topics that could not be openly and safely questioned within the university, including the sanctity of allopathic medicine and the definitions of inclusivity, diversity and equity.
This ideological trap has manifested itself with particular strength during the COVID era, as open debate about so-called controversial issues, such as vaccines, has been silenced or met with disapproval by administrators. Where do independently minded and principled learners go when they are no longer welcome on campuses operating predominantly from a place of conclusion rather than a place of wonder?
CCL’s course offerings range from computer programming and permaculture food growing to telepathic animal communication. Dedicated instructors with distinguished teaching careers are enthusiastic about offering interactive, creative and engaging online learning experiences, where students work together peacefully and cooperatively in the co-creation of meaningful learning. For learners who want to maintain their autonomy, there are new questions and concerns about accessing academic learning and how they can navigate their career while honouring values like freedom, safety and inclusion. At CCL, learners will have opportunities to explore their career aspirations and how their learning translates into marketable skills and meaningful work.
Grounded in critical thinking and problem solving, CCL is about supporting learners to discover what it is to live a good and purposeful life that aligns with what matters most to them. Through the co-creation of educational experiences including mentorship, self-reflection and service, learners will co-create educational experiences to fulfill their individual journeys.
To learn more about the Canadian Centre for Learning, please visit their website. The CCL launches April 27.