Professor Holger Syme of the UT English department has researched the Dean’s budget extensively, and written an excellent report on the obvious issues to be found in the new Academic Plan. You can download it here. We highly encourage everyone to read it and spread the info around, the more people know about the holes in the Dean’s plan, the better!

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TOWN HALL MEETING TOMORROW

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Hi all!

We had a great info session on Tuesday with an amazing turnout – thanks to everyone who came!

Thurs the 23rd is the first of two town hall meetings with the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science, and we hope to see you all there! It will be at 4pm in the OISE Auditorium, however if you have time beforehand we encourage you to come out to Sidney Smith at 2pm to help us make banners with UTSU, and then meet us at 3pm for our official planning meeting before we head over to the town hall. We are going to all be wearing RED AND BLACK so please come out in those colours so we can show a unified front!

If you are an undergraduate student, EASSU has prepared a statement (with questions) for undergrads to read as representatives of the student union. We will be handing out copies tomorrow before the meeting.

If you can’t come out tomorrow, there is also a town hall meeting at 4pm next Monday at the same location.

To summarize:

2pm –> Outside Sidney Smith, making banners with UTSU.
3pm –> Outside Sidney Smith, meeting as EAS members (just look for those of us wearing red and black, with signs!)
4pm –> TOWN HALL MEETING AT OISE.

See you tomorrow, and wear red and black!

PS. The faculty has changed the FAQ page that we recently posted the rebuttal to. There’s no longer any mention of EAS! Seems like they got the message that we have valid questions to ask about their form answers.

Important – Town Hall Meetings!!

Posted: September 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

As we start up the school year, the campaign to save EAS continues! The EAS undergraduate student union, EAS graduate student union, and EAS faculty will be holding a joint information session on Tuesday the 21st at 4pm, in the Purple Lounge on the 14th floor of Robarts. We highly encourage everyone to come to learn about what is happening and the consequences that the Dean’s new academic plan would have on the future of EAS at the university. Please come out to learn more, ask questions, and share your thoughts. You can find out more information here about the event here.

There will also be town hall meetings taking place with the Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science on Thursday Sept 23 at 4pm and Monday Sept 27 at 4pm, both in the OISE auditorium. This will be a great opportunity for students and all those affected to have their voices heard! It is critical that we have a large representation at these meetings. This may be one of very few opportunities for us to come together as a group to present our issues with the EAS department’s inclusion in the School of Language and Literatures to the Dean, so please come out and support the campaign!

The Dean’s office has recently posted some answers to student questions about the new Academic Plan on the Faculty website here. These answers seem to have been designed to reassure students while not providing any more details about the plan. The FAQ uses EAS several times as an example in its answers. The following is a rebuttal to the answer to question 6. More will follow, but this one seemed to me to be the most pressing considering its unfounded assurances that students can continue their studies without any change.

Question: I just enrolled in an EAS program. What should I do now?
The Dean’s Answer: You take the courses and follow the program requirements just like before.

Response: Take what courses?

As we have been arguing since the announcement of this academic plan, and as we will continue to do so, there is no reason for any student to believe that the amount and quality of courses offered to them now in the EAS department will continue to be offered once this plan is put into place. If the EAS department is absorbed by the School of Languages and Literatures, our program will be moving to this school with a total of only five members of our current teaching staff. The over 1000 students currently enrolled in the program would be relying on these few instructors, and whatever courses on Asia the other departments decide to offer, in order to complete their degree. Anyone who looks at the 2010/2011 offerings for the EAS department can see a wide variety of courses on East Asia provided to students – courses with highly specialized topics and globally renowned professors. It would be naïve for anyone to believe that this quantity of courses and quality of teaching would remain at U of Toronto should the department be dissolved. After all, why would our East Asian Studies professors stay at this institution, when it has no East Asian Studies department? As our professors leave, so too will the courses they teach and the quality of teaching they provide to students. It is unlikely that the Dean would consider replacing these professors with instructors to teach courses on Asian Humanities subjects, and if he did, we would still be losing quality of education.

Also, even if our professors did remain, how would it be feasible for departments like History, Anthropology, and Religion to possibly absorb all of the courses currently offered by EAS faculty and teaching staff, when those departments are also on a limited budget? We have had no assurance from the Dean that these departments will be required to absorb all current course offerings or maintain the variety and standard students have experienced over the past decades of the department’s existence. In fact, it seems more likely that these other departments will instead be making the course choices themselves. As each department has their own priorities, and due to the Eurocentrism of most Humanities departments at U of T, this would mean far fewer courses on Asia available to students trying to complete their degree.

An important matter to point out, and one which is not addressed in the FAQ, is the issue of independent study opportunities and 4th year research seminars. Current students in the EAS program have a variety of seminars with small class sizes available to them to take in their upper years of study, which allow them to learn skills in critical humanities research. It seems unlikely that specialized seminars such as “Beyond Orientalism” would ever be absorbed by another department, and the number of 4th year seminars on Asian history that are currently offered could not be maintained in the History department without causing a large imbalance in the subjects of study available. Also, currently students who have taken at least five EAS courses have the opportunity to pursue independent study under the guidance of a professor in the department. We have heard nothing from the Dean’s office about what would happen to students who wish to complete an independent study project in EAS if the program were to be dissolved.

Of course, the dissolution of the undergrad EAS program is not desirable for many other reasons, especially due to the loss of focus on critical humanities research on Asia in favour of using language as the primary tool of regional study. If you would like to read more about this issue, it is encouraged that you read our Manifesto and Q&A with Professor Keirstead.

– Julianne

A bit of reassuring news!

Posted: July 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that we’re still fighting hard for EAS, and are still in need of your letters and signatures! But also – did you know that the University of Alberta’s EAS department faced a similar proposal by their administration? They too were included in a proposal that would integrate all language & literature study into one single program.  However they fought it and won, and the U of A still has an autonomous EAS department today. We’ve talked to the head of the campaign against the proposal at U of A, and it seems we’re on the right track to successfully preserve our department.

I think this is very reassuring, and should encourage everyone to get their pens to paper, send emails, and spread the news! We can save EAS!

Dear President Naylor:

I was dismayed to hear of the planned closing of the University’s Centre for Comparative Literature and the dismantling of the Department of East Asian Studies. I hope you will not take it amiss if I explain as briefly as I can why I think this plan, if carried out, is likely to be harmful to the University and to Canada’s national interest.

Read the rest of this entry »

The E-Nikka Wrote About Us

Posted: July 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

The online Japanese community paper E-Nikka, previously the Nikka Times, posted an article on us.

You can access the article here.

For a somewhat OK translation with Google Translate, click here.