Today's discussion:

The federal government is spending millions on equity, diversity, and inclusion research

If the federal government wants universities to keep the public’s trust, it should avoid any future activist-themed academic research grants and ensure that granting agencies eschew social justice priorities.

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Michael B

Despite the risk of being “cancelled” or criminally charged under a future, online, hate speech law I’m declaring
that ALL of my never defined “privileges” were earned through hard work, responsible decisions and self-sacrifice. My “privileges” were not earned due to the colour of my skin, nor any EDI privilege granted by a gov’t agency.

2nd April 2024 at 5:54 am
Paul Attics

No, one must include luck, good or bad, as a significant contributing factor. Certainly is not ALL earned for anyone. Born in Canada (luck). Born to supportive parents (luck). Graduate from university while the economy is booming (luck). Born good looking (luck). Born with higher than average intelligence (luck). Didn’t catch some debilitating disease (luck). Born taller than average (luck).
And so on.

2nd April 2024 at 7:38 am
Al Raftis

Life is not fair. Of course luck is a factor. Do the best you can with the talents you are given. Get educated, work hard, and live within your means. Equality of opportunity is important, equality of outcomes is a pipe dream.

2nd April 2024 at 8:20 am

The line between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome is often not clear-cut. Grants are awarded before the work is done. It’s not a science to guess which work will be high-quality, and in some cases it doesn’t even become obvious which work was useful or practically important until decades after the fact.

2nd April 2024 at 12:52 pm
Paul Attics

Fair enough approach to life.
There is a lot of space on the spectrum between the extremes of ‘Equal Outcomes’ and ‘Every Person For Themselves’.
Very few people would support the extreme on either end (i.e. strawmen). It is our collective definition of ‘societal fairness’ and where it precisely should sit on the middle of this spectrum that should be the scope of reasonable debate.

2nd April 2024 at 8:37 am
Michael B

Your sensibilities apply to everyone, don’t they. People are quite capable of creating their own “luck” despite where they were born, what parents they had, economic conditions, physical attributes etc.. Making poor choices, particularly regarding education/training makes most of the the difference. You know this. You’ve witnessed it.

2nd April 2024 at 4:37 pm
Wester Ranta

Our country has become a looney bin.

2nd April 2024 at 8:06 am
Darrell Debbie

I cannot even read all of this. The grants to study it are outrageous. Just hire, promote, admit to medical school etc. on meritocracy. I don’t care what colour the pilot or the doctor or roofer or electrician or airplane mechanic/builder etc. is, I just want the most competent and so should everyone else.

2nd April 2024 at 12:37 pm
Greg Jackson

There is nothing more enjoyable than observing the point, counterpoint of those living in an academic fairyland. Arguing over the “methodological rigors” of research is so irrelevant to the real world, that it is no wonder many of today’s university graduates end up slinging beer in a bar or flipping hamburgers.
Not much of that for which they are awarding scholarships and grants, will provide for a comfortable life in the cruel reality of the world as it is.
I argue that there are many better places to have been born than Canada. Economically, the country is a mess and the liberal obsession with concepts that eschew talent in favor of DEI, is in large part responsible. I also argue that being male and white is to be excluded from many grants, scholarships and awards, on that basis alone. Rather than embracing the principle that a rising tide floats all boats, academia now seeks to promote the idea that we “average down” to be inclusive of others whose work, on merit alone would not attract any attention. Talent is fleeing this country. Productivity is declining.
As a white male, I long ago realized that in order to be successful, I had to take risks and work hard. I am a successful entrepreneur, with considerable personal wealth that I earned. My parents were middle class, so I didn’t get a leg-up from family wealth and I got nothing but roadblocks from government.
Other than STEM, I would discourage anyone from wasting their time in today’s universities. Indoctrination is not education.

2nd April 2024 at 10:46 am
Ryan J.

I disagree with what you say. And since methodological rigor and empirical evidence don’t matter to you, I don’t feel a need to say anything further or see any point in trying to engage in meaningful discussion here. Welcome to the new dark ages, folks.

2nd April 2024 at 12:12 pm

Thank you for your concise recap much better than a rambling meaningless essay.

2nd April 2024 at 12:57 pm
Kim Morton

Lots of gobbledygook there that this old logger has trouble following. Certainly worlds away from what we learned in trade school back in the 70s. What I do see is a lot of taxpayer’s money being wasted on “research” that has no bearing on our lives, or improving the economy. What does stand out is that merit is a bad word for the people in charge of academy and government. They use what appears to us commoners as reverse racism, which in my view does nothing to promote equality, and indeed fuels racism. It would also be illegal in private businesses. Even their idea of equity is far removed from how most of us view the word. Equity is earned, not given.
The end result right or wrong, for people at my end of the tax ladder is that we see our money being spent for no good reason on people that have no job skills to write meaningless papers when they should learn something that leads to a real job. Perhaps a business plan showing how we can all profit from this “research” would justify the cost?

2nd April 2024 at 11:02 am
Ryan J.

This, like most of what I’ve seen from Dave Snow, is annoyingly bad research/reasoning. I find his persistent lack of methodological rigor particularly egregious, assuming it’s not a deliberate strategy for misleading readers in a non-academic setting. Here’s a few of the more obvious issues in this grievance piece alone:

1. It doesn’t seem that Snow ever attempts to articulate why granting greater equality of opportunity for traditionally marginalized communities or people might be a bad thing in the first place. The article (like others from Snow) seems to rely on an implicit understanding between the author and reader(s) that marginalized people should not be granted the same opportunities as more privileged folks. In other words, an implied understanding that, actually, the status quo works just fine and marginalized people should really just stop complaining. A tired trope amongst reactionaries like Snow.

2. “One can study marginalized communities without engaging in social justice activism” – true, but there’s a world of difference between studying marginalized communities/marginalized people and studying marginalization itself (through looking at different phenomena, historical developments, or even case studies). Snow often conflates the two. Further to the point, it’s not clear why Snow thinks it would be worth studying things like racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression from a neutral position without any desire to overcome these problems, or suggest courses of action for addressing these problems. One can also study infectious diseases without engaging in attempts to remedy those illnesses, but is that really the purpose of academic inquiry?

3. Even Snow acknowledges that the demographic information collected during the application process for most grants, fellowships, etc. is not linked to whether or not someone actually receives any money – it’s a data gathering practice and a nudge without any teeth. Yet Snow heavily implies that most funding dollars are specifically being set aside for people from marginalized communities or people studying marginalization, which is simply not the case (and even less so in Canada compared to the policies down in the US).

4. Snow never explains how grant/project titles are being captured as “clearly adopting a critical activist perspective” data points in this “study”. Instead, Snow seems to assume that what is obvious for the author is necessarily obvious for everyone else, which is maybe the first thing any serious researcher would learn in a Methods 101 course if they were paying attention. More generally, key terms are never sufficiently defined, explained, or contextualized (when they are fleshed out at all). For example, what exactly does Snow mean by “critical justice social activism”? Why would we not want to strive towards a society based on the principles of justice? Or, is this terminology meant only as a thought-cancelling cliche?

5. Snow seems to assume that critical inquiries into particular topics necessarily constitute an affront to otherwise “objective, empirical knowledge”, which suggests the author has a very limited understanding of epistemology in the social sciences and humanities. In order to more fully and comprehensively understand something (whether an object or a phenomena), we need to be able to study and know it from a plethora of different perspectives and approaches. While Snow might not like it, this includes critical inquiries from marginalized researchers.

It seems like the only thing “damaging the pursuit of truth” is Snow’s attempts to vilify research with which he happens not to agree. More broadly, and on a personal note, articles like this being published in The Hub worry me… I enjoy hearing from a diverse array of perspectives that, ideally, draw from empirical evidence and employ rational/critical thinking (and, to be clear, The Hub does provide this for the most part). But it needs to be pointed out that this article is a non-peer-reviewed attempt at research effectively presenting itself as serious scholarship. I worry that continuing down this road risks further blurring the lines between opinions and facts, and the last thing I want is for The Hub to become the intellectual equivalent of a fleshlight for the academic equivalent of incels who might be having trouble publishing in academic spaces. Oh, right, but then that would be because the academy and mainstream scholars have it out for brave, free thinkers like Snow (I forgot about the circular argument thing).

2nd April 2024 at 9:29 am
Paul Attics

Thorough counterpoints. Much appreciated!

2nd April 2024 at 9:48 am

Referring to Hub readers as the academic equivalent of incels (racist, sexist, etc.) blew your debate as you have demonstrated the divisiveness of social justice advocates. Snow’s point is to follow the money, received or not, and nothing of what you suggest. And no, he doesn’t go into the details of hard line activism, he doesn’t need to, it’s not his point. Regular Hub readers likely understand the significance of what he is saying. Social justice activists have demonstrated they are interested in research justice and not research excellence. Snow is not saying there should be no research into social issues, he is suggesting that the dollars should not be allocated to the activists. Academia risks losing their funding. It’s not that hard to figure out.

2nd April 2024 at 9:37 pm

Unfortunately the money being spent based on colour doesn’t guarantee any meritorious outcomes of the government sponsorship. All it will do is guarantee a spate of incompetent students unable to perform in the private sector. Will there be enough government jobs for them?

2nd April 2024 at 12:49 pm
Paul Attics

This article seems to be based on some diligent research about the grant receiving researchers. As such, the pursuit of truth starts with a question. The pursuit of social justice too often starts with the answer. In fields in which there is very little quantitative data, there are lots of places for poor research to hide, and lots of punishment for any that attempt to question it.

2nd April 2024 at 7:33 am

Sadly as discussed in detail Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity programs do more to divide than to unite. By emphasizing differences they increase divisiveness rather than than reduce it. Equality is lost rather than gained. As with Climate change Academia increases its wealth miseducates and starves productuctiviity

2nd April 2024 at 3:40 pm
Hardolph Wasteneys

Just the ridiculously high SSHRC budget of $1.16 B compared to the paltry NSERC budget which is currently $1.39 B says it all about the current government’s obsession with DEI. If the Trudeau govt truly believed their own rhetoric about “the climate emergency” and “the science is settled” they would be pulling out all stops and pushing unlimited funding for scientific and engineering research, not grievance studies. Instead, NSERC funding is stifled in order to become just another government DEI playground (like the military) with grant cutbacks to seriously productive researchers, and racial targeting in Canada Research Chairs and faculty recruitment for important positions. Good article, but just a start.

2nd April 2024 at 12:43 pm
Elizabeth Thorne

Researching EDI issues is one thing and worth doing. Implementing the results of that research is also worth while. It’s a smaller part of the overall funding and doesn’t guarantee that the research results will be poor or invalid.
Based on the title of this article I thought it would be a one sided rant and was all set to comment before reading the it. Good thing I read it huh?

2nd April 2024 at 12:01 pm
Ray Howarth

Biggest waste of resources ever!

3rd April 2024 at 3:34 am
Henry Clark

When I went to a one room school, the curriculum was rational or scientific.
Everyone,including the European peasant parents were interested in the system that disproves regal exceptionalism (Locke et al) .
Einstein’s relativity proved Locke’s theory that all of humanities works being amenable to understanding by common sense meant that no evidence exists or ever existed for supernatural influences on reality.
Present scholarship notwithstanding; there is no proof that Einstein was wrong.

2nd April 2024 at 9:18 pm