People Against Militarization of OISE January 1, 2005
Re: 1. Militarization of research and education at and through Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto (OISE/UT).
2. A protest against militarization of OISE on January 11, 2005 at OISE.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We would like to inform you about the recently attempted corporate-military-education research merger at OISE/UT. People Against Militarization of OISE (PAMO) and all other concerned individuals have shook OISE's administration over this incident. As a result, a moratorium has been announced on December 15, 2004 on any partnerships until clear University of Toronto rules defining acceptable partnerships are in place. A Faculty Forum has been scheduled by the OISE's dean Jane Gaskell to take place on January 11, 2005 for two hours to discuss the issue.
This forum is limited to OISE's faculty and any "key resource people" they invite. As a result, it is undemocratically closed-ended and lacks transparency.
People Against Militarization of OISE intend to bring this issue to your attention with the ultimate goal of transferring it from behind closed doors and closed administrative processes into the public/democratic sphere of inquiry.
What follows is a short but important description of the attempt to militarize OISE from September 2004 up to the present moment.
PEOPLE AGAINST MILITARIZATION OF OISE (PAMO)
PAMO is a cross sector group of people which was mobilized out of protest to recently attempted militarization of OISE. The foundation to the group's formation was the report, written by the Toronto-based human rights monitor, Homes Not Bombs (HNB), called Best Practices and Training to Kill: University of Toronto's OISE to Help in Future War Training, September 24, 2004 (www.homesnotbombs.ca).
It was HNB who informed the OISE's community about one of OISE's research institutes forging a partnership with the Canadian military and a private military contractor. In the course of their monitoring, one of the websites of the war-making corporations, HNB found, featured an article announcing a research partnership with OISE. HNB promptly informed the education institute. This valuable information has sparked unrest among many of OISE's faculty and students. Many have gathered through PAMO.
At present, PAMO's mandate is to:
OISE/UT is a world-renowned education institute. Many students enroll in OISE's programs because they provide an excellent opportunity to think, speak and write critically from anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, Indigenous, feminist, anti-homophobic and similarly social justice and democratic oriented perspectives. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time, since OISE was created 39 years ago, that a claim has been made about a relation between educational research conducted at this institution and the military and military contractors.
Institute for Knowledge, Innovation and Technology (IKIT), created and located at the ninth floor of OISE intends to have the Department of National Defense (DND) and Atlantis Systems International (ASI) join their two year old education research project called Beyond Best Practice: research based innovation in learning and knowledge work.
"Beyond Best Practice " was initiated, approved and funded from year 2002. IIt received the largest ever "education" grant from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).
The new military partnerships fall within SSHRC loophole &endash; no ethical review is needed by the SSHRC, particularly joining two years after approval. Also pay particular attention to SSHRC definitions of Partnerships and Collaborators:
"Partnership: any agreement between a Canadian postsecondary institution and an organization not affiliated with a postsecondary institution. Selected programs allow organizations not affiliated with a postsecondary institution to lead research proposals. Refer to individual program descriptions for eligibility requirements.
Partners are organizations, not individuals. Both types of research partners are expected to contribute intellectually and to participate in the research and may appoint an individual to the research team to act as a collaborator. In addition, for administrative purposes, both types of research partners are required to identify an individual who will act as contact person.
Collaborator: a scholar or researcher who may play various roles in a research project or program of research, including participating in setting its intellectual direction.
Collaborators do not need to be affiliated with a Canadian postsecondary institution. They may be citizens or permanent residents of Canada or foreign citizens. SSHRC does not cover expenses that research collaborators incur in the conduct of research or research-related activity. However, the Financial Administration sections of the SSHRC Grant Holder's Guide specify certain travel and subsistence costs that may be claimed" (www.sshrc.ca).
Notice: a partner "can appoint an individual to act as a collaborator" and collaborator can participate in research including "setting its intellectual direction."
This research is a collaborative endeavor of public and private, local, national and international collaborators. 2002 - collaborators and partners in the research include 1. scientists from mostly education-, communication-, computer - and psychology departments from universities in Canada, U.S.A., China, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Japan and Singapore, 2. three Toronto junior public schools, 3. Hamilton Health Sciences, 4. Bank of Montreal Group of Companies, Apple Canada etc. The research is a cross-sector project which brings elementary and post-secondary education, health and business interests together. All partners bring their own funding, having a multiplier effect.
The research is of interest to the Canadian military and the private military contractor. They have tried to join it in the Fall 2004 but have been challenged ever since. If Canadian military wants to gain their advantage from this research, then why Chinese military, for example, would not want to do the same through Chinese universities participating in the same research through IKIT/OISE? This same research will find its way to U.S. military (DoD) through joint sharing of information with Canadian military (DND). * More detailed information about the IKIT research project and why it is important to the military/DND/DoD- will be given in the next update.
The director of IKIT and the principal applicant of the research, Dr. Marlene Scardamalia and her colleague and co-applicant Dr. Carl Bereiter, both world-renowned cognitive scientists, have been adamant supporters of their new partnership before and after they were challenged by the concerned community.
Dean of OISE, Jane Gaskell, has been supporting Dr. Scardamalia's intention to partner with the DND and ASI. Her words of support have repeatedly invoked "academic freedom" and University of Toronto (UT) policies. According to her, it is a matter of academic freedom to let DND and ASI take part in the above mentioned education research and that this partnership is within UT rules. Dean Gaskell joins Dr. Scardamalia and Dr. Bereiter in their claims that this partnership is about "peace" and "defense."
Atlantis Systems International (ASI)'s CEO, Andrew Day, has announced the partnership with IKIT/OISE/UT on September 14, 2004 on ASI's website. ASI features this announcement on their website in spite of the fact that the partnership has not been signed yet by the OISE's administration, and that this partnership is a contested ground.
In their report named Strategic Partnership to Drive Better Training Solutions &endash; Atlantis Partners with the Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology (IKIT) at OISE/University of Toronto, Mr. Day says the following:
the partnership with IKIT/OISE/UT will help build new capabilities for the company in the areas of cognitive-based learning, e-learning, knowledge building, and research and development. "Understanding and evaluating how and what people learn are critical to delivering more effective training solutions. Building our knowledge in these areas will provide recurring revenue opportunities for our company and create added value for our customers by allowing us to apply these capabilities to our existing products and services. It also paves the way for our entry into other markets."
In the same report, Blake Melnick, a founding member of IKIT and its head of public relations states that to his knowledge
"this has never been done before in the aviation industry, but it makes perfect sense - Atlantis is a leader in simulation-based training, and IKIT, lead by world renowned cognitive scientists Dr. Marlene Scardamalia and Dr. Carl Bereiter, is a recognized leader in educational research, e-learning, and the development of collaborative, knowledge-building technologies. This is an opportunity to combine our expertise and share knowledge to accelerate our respective agendas."
ASI describes itself as "a globally recognized developer of simulation-based aircraft training systems, with a client base that spans defense forces and government agencies throughout the world, as well as major commercial airlines and aircrew training centres" (www.atlantissi.com press centre).
70 percent of ASI's revenue comes from servicing militaries around the world many of which, as Homes Not Bombs points out "are human rights abusers, and some have been implicated in the commission of war crimes" (www.homesnotbombs.ca).
ASI's services are incorporated in military aircrafts such as F-15 Eagle, F/A-18 Hornet, Black Hawk helicopters and others which are being used in the war in Iraq and elsewhere.
A concerned community including faculty and students has written and signed letters expressing their concerns with the potential unprecedented merger partnership between the OISE's education research institute and corporate-military complex.
Issues of ethicality, morality, transparency and a wide range of implications of such research have been continually raised.
Once in the military domain, research often becomes a classified document. In contrast to this, the concerned community wants to see that the information on research content, purposes and long- and short-term implications from the beginning to the end of the research process is available to public.
"Education" research produced in the first world for military applications elsewhere, with grave implications for the third and fourth world populations, remains a thorny issue. What transpires from this are imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, which, ironically, are studied in many programs at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education from Indigenous, anti-imperial, anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-sexist and similarly oriented perspectives. It is of great importance that we do not allow the military and military contractors to open the door into the social sciences and humanities particularly the Education field. There is a reason this did not occur before &endash; it is a great danger to democratic and civilian life. Even the Romans knew well enough to keep the military out of Rome and could go no further than its gates.
The concerned OISE's community and others do not want to be explicitly implicated in the suffering of children, women, men and the environment in Iraq or any other place in the world.
University of Toronto Ethical Review Committee, a body which screens all research done at UT for its ethicality, is concerned with how researchers treat their research subjects. Questions of the purposes of research and research implications do not enter this ethicality equation.
Partners who want to join already approved research do not have to be screened by the Ethical Review Committee, unless there is a fundamental change to research resulting from new partnerships. DND and ASI are to join IKIT's Beyond Best Practice two years after its approval without the necessity to be screened by the UT. (SSHRC loophole as well)
The UT ethical review committee will have to widen their frontiers of ethicality to include purposes and implications of research both locally and globally.
People Against Militarization of OISE (PAMO), which has created a space for interdisciplinary faculty, students and wider community in addressing what they find to be their common concern, holds that the IKIT/DND/ASI partnership is not only OISE's problem. As a problem for local and global communities with its roots at OISE, it has to be contained and dealt with in its location. PAMO does not think that only excommunicating this problem from OISE is a solution for any party concerned with tragedies of war.
In their work of making the concern about announced partnerships transparent, PAMO has contacted most of 2002- partners and collaborators in the research "Beyond best practice " to inform them about prospective military partners and the shift of the research from civil to military. IKIT/OISE is a network of local, national and international collaborators and partners, with the Beyond Best Practice research in common to all of them. Having military join IKIT has bearing on all participants. This is one reason why PAMO decided that informing them is of utmost importance. Another reason is that IKIT's director Dr. Scardamalia did not have an answer to PAMO's coordinator's question whether she informed 2002- partners and collaborators about the newly planned partnership with the DND and ASI. PAMO asked this question during the OISE's Graduate Student Association meeting on November 25, 2004, where Dr. Scardamalia and her colleague Dr. Bereiter were invited speakers.
Furthermore, PAMO is also determined to make this issue visible to parents' associations, teachers' unions, media, grassroots organizations, individuals etc. Their determination to expose the issue was shown in PAMO's statement they issued during the OISE's Faculty Council Meeting on December 8, 2004 when the issue of the partnership was raised.
As a result of multiple pressures on OISE's administration and IKIT, on December 15, 2004, Dr. Scardamalia announced a moratorium on any kind of partnerships until "a clear OISE/UT policy on research partnerships is established." Complementing IKIT's initiative is OISE dean's Memo To Faculty, dated, also, on December 15, 2004, in which she is proposing that the issue be taken up in a Faculty Forum on January 11, 2005 for two hours. What follows is a direct quote from Dean Gaskell's Memo to Faculty, December 15, 2004:
Memo to Faculty
I am writing to follow up on our Faculty Council meeting last Wednesday.
As many of you know, a motion was passed there "that the Faculty Council
establish a due diligence process to assess congruity with OISE/UT
standards and values prior to approving any proposed partnership." There
had been no prior notice of this motion, and it did not come forward
through any of the standing committees of Council. There was little
substantive discussion of its content on the floor of the meeting. The
debate focused largely on process, and the desire to have more discussion
of partnerships at OISE/UT.
It is clear that we need more discussion of the issues surrounding
partnerships. The chair of Faculty Council, Alister Cumming, and I have
begun to organize a Faculty Forum for such discussion on January 11 from
10:00 to 12:00. Audrey Cheung, Director of Research Grants and Accounting
at UT Research Services, and George Luste, president of the Faculty
Association, have agreed to provide their perspective on the issues at
this forum. If there are other key resource people you think we should
invite, please let me or Alister know.
It is not clear that the process outlined in the motion can be put in
place by Faculty Council. I have asked the Provost to provide advice on
the status of the motion; he is consulting with Governing Council, and we
will hear from him in January.
PAMO has been invited (a representative) to this Forum, but as hopeful as these initiatives on the part of OISE's administration may look, PAMO does not believe that any real changes will take place through these administrative channels or behind closed doors. PAMO will not be party to and legitimize such a charade. To ensure that changes in UT policies take place, PAMO will do their best to bring the problem into the public arena. PAMO believes that this problem of joining university/education/public schools and corporate-military complex in IKIT's research, has to be contained and stopped at its roots &endash; at OISE - by exposing it to all!
During the protest on December 8, 2004, an hour before the Faculty Council Meeting, PAMO protesters faced censoring of information, intimidation and humiliation. The building manager had ensured that security guards removed all posters at OISE, announcing the protest and summoning all concerned &endash; something not observed in cases of other events.
On the same day, at the inception, just before the Faculty Council Meeting commenced, IKIT/OISE's Dr. Bereiter has slurred PAMO's coordinator. His calling her a "Vampire" is amplified by his status, sex, age and race. A complaint has been lodged.
It is important that information provided in this letter is available to public and their scrutiny. It is crucial not to leave this issue solely within OISE/UT's decision -making frameworks &endash; they absolutely see no problem with militarization of OISE nor with the connection between research and wars &endash; they see it as "peace" and "defense."
PAMO has sent this letter to you in order to invite you to help us dismantle and shed light on this Orwellian newspeak and doublethink &endash; "WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH."
Those persecuting peace-seekers such as PAMO and hiding behind the rhetoric of peace do not mean peace. Words and actions must harmonize &endash; something OISE's administration has not demonstrated so far.
This is not only OISE's problem. This is the problem of every person affected by war and war mechanisms made and improved through our research here at home.
The public must voice their opinion and exercise their rights on this urgent issue.
This is a place where we can stop war at its roots. We must mobilize and win. The long-term effects will be disastrous to public education, universities, civil society and anti-globalization and women's movements if more effective wars are not stopped where they originate. We must do this through our democratic and human rights and obligations to all those affected by war.
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