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Daily Bulletin

University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Friday, September 18, 1998

  • Distance students see their Waterloo
  • Research ethics policy is issued
  • Alumni come home to UW
  • And more for a busy weekend
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* High Holy Days begin

Distance students see their Waterloo

Faraway students experience Waterloo this weekend as the distance education program holds an open house today and Saturday for students who normally encounter UW only through the mail.

Village I blackout

Village I will have a one-hour power outage starting at 2:30 this afternoon while brief maintenance is done, the plant operations department says. Computer equipment should be turned off before the hydro goes out. Ventilation will also be affected, the warning adds.
The general public is invited to Saturday's part of the open house, with one highlight being a 2:45 p.m. talk by Larry Smith of the economics department. He'll speak (Davis Centre room 1302) on "Tomorrow's Entrepreneur: All of Us?", arguing that Canada has more, not less, entrepreneurial spirit than the United States, and exploring how this trend "will continue to affect the nature of all employment in Canada".

Earlier on Saturday, a course fair, running from 10:30 to 12:30 in the Davis Centre great hall, includes displays from the academic departments that offer distance ("correspondence") courses. Also on hand will be people from career services, the library, and other service departments. Nearby, there will be science demonstrations for "kids of all ages".

The weekend of special events "is extremely important to our distance education students", says Don Kasta, director of distance and continuing education, "as it provides the opportunity for them to meet instructors, administrators and one another."

UW currently offers more than 250 credit courses through distance education, in about 50 subject areas. Most distance education courses consist of printed notes and audio tapes, although some have other learning tools such as slides, prints, or video tapes, and Internet components are rapidly being introduced to courses. It's possible to earn an entire UW degree in arts, science or environmental studies without ever coming to campus, except perhaps for the once-a-year open house.

Distance education at UW, which has dropped sharply in recent years, is down about another 7 per cent this fall, says Kasta. "Part-time enrolment across Canada has been on the decline since 1993. Some programs with a very applied focus are doing well, but on average everyone is down.

"Our market research indicates that the principal barriers are the cost of the courses and time available -- people are just so busy working longer hours and looking after other things in their lives. As well, there is evidence that we need more applied courses, ones that students can apply immediately to their workplace." (With a few exceptions, courses offered by distance education are exactly the same as credit courses offered on campus by UW.)

Students who visit campus today can drop in at the mature student services "Hospitality Room", running all day in Modern Languages room 244, and take the opportunity to tour the library, attend a workshop on job interviewing, or sit in on an on-campus class. From 4 to 6 there's a social hour at the University Club.

On Saturday, action moves to the Davis Centre, where the hospitality area will be open from 8:30 to 5:00, and both new and used books will be for sale from 8:30 to 12:30. A workshop on Internet and library research will start at 9:00; the high-fidelity sound lab in the physics department will be open from 10 to noon; a campus walking tour will leave at 10:30; and the course fair runs from 10:30 to 12:30.

Visitors can get lunch at Federation Hall from 1:00 to 2:30, and after Smith's talk at 2:45, the day winds up with "coffee and comments" at 4:15.

Research ethics policy is issued

Reg Friesen mourned

Reg Friesen, a veteran of UW's department of chemistry, died at breakfast-time yesterday. He had been battling cancer, but lived to see the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education, which he chaired, take place successfully at UW in August. Friesen, who took early retirement in 1996, was a long-time assistant dean of science, with special responsibility for programs to promote relations with high schools. There will be no formal memorial service; "an event of a more social nature" will be planned for sometime in October, the chemistry department says. Donations in Friesen's memory can be made to UW's Science Memorial Scholarship Fund.
The three national research granting councils yesterday issued an official version of their Joint Policy Statement on Ethics, after a succession of drafts and public discussions over the past several years. The rules come from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Medical Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans is described as "the first Policy Statement for research involving human subjects endorsed by all three granting councils. All researchers and research institutions receiving funds from the Councils are required to adhere to the policy."

Says a statement from NSERC:

"For the approximately 350 existing Research Ethics Boards (REBs) in universities, hospitals and research institutes across Canada, the new policy offers updated and uniformly acceptable guidelines for approving research proposals. REBs review proposals for research involving humans before the work is started and have the authority to approve or reject permission for the research to proceed. Adherence to the new guidelines will be a condition for researchers to receive funds from the Councils. The new ethics policy statement seeks to balance the need to advance knowledge and understanding with the need to respect the existing legal, social and moral principles and responsibilities to those who participate in research as research subjects.

"The new policy statement addresses a number of complex ethical principles surrounding the duties, rights and norms of those conducting research. It seeks to ensure that research subjects are treated with respect and privacy, that researchers and their institutions are confident that their research meets national ethical standards, and that Canadian society benefits from research that is conducted in a socially and scientifically responsible manner. . . .

UW's research ethics office
The consultation process
"While upholding the principle of academic freedom, the new policy statement emphasizes the need to respect people's physical, psychological and cultural integrity. Issues such as consent, vulnerability, privacy, equality, balance and the minimizing of harm and maximizing of benefit must be part of any ethical research project.

"The standards and procedures outlined in the policy statement deal with a variety of administrative as well as substantive issues ranging from the structure and roles of an REB to use of data, conflict of interest, inclusion of women and children in research, and new reproductive technologies. . . .

"The Policy Statement adheres to the internationally held standard that no research involving human subjects should be started without prior review and approval by a properly constituted and functioning Research Ethics Board (REB). . . .

"Ethical research involving humans demands that participants (or those authorized on their behalf) understand what the research involves and give their free and informed consent. The Policy Statement ensures that subjects are not forced or manipulated into participating, that they are not unfairly observed or recorded, that they are advised of both the pros and cons surrounding their participation, and that they are able to understand what their participation means. For participants deemed incompetent, an authorized third party ensures that their dignity and safety are maintained, and finally, that research involving emergency health situations will respect a number of strict criteria set out in the policy.

"Respect for the privacy and autonomy of individuals or groups is the ethical basis of respect for research subjects. . . .

"Concern for justice in research involving human subjects historically focused on fair treatment of research subjects. Research that excludes certain groups may deny them the benefits of that research. Accordingly, this section considers the issues of involving groups who have generally been exempted from research such as women of childbearing age or those who are not competent to consent for themselves because of age, (e.g. infants) or illness, (e.g. people afflicted with Alzheimer's)."

The statement also touches on such issues as genetic research, research involving human tissue and embryos, and the special sensitivities of research involving aboriginal peoples.

Alumni come home to UW

Memories are the stuff reunions are made of, and tomorrow alumni classes celebrating the 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th, and 35th anniversary of their graduation from UW will meet again on campus to reminisce, revive old friendships and perhaps, even forge new ones.

"There are no classes, no exams -- just a day of special activities for the whole family," organizers of Alumni Anniversary Day promise. Campus tours, displays at the Student Life Centre providing an update on what's happening at the faculties and colleges, and a chance to cheer the football Warriors to victory over Guelph are all on the agenda.

As well, special presentations include talks on planned giving, current research at the school of optometry, and "vignettes of Waterloo nostalgia", compliments of history professor Ken McLaughlin, author of The Unconventional Founding of an Unconventional University.

Of course, no UW party would be complete without a barbecue -- noon at the Student Life Centre -- and a beer garden, Saturday afternoon at the Bombshelter.

But "professional development and educational opportunities are at least as important as social events" in alumni programming," to quote Gwen Graper, manager of alumni affairs, from the front-page interview in this week's Gazette. The demand from alumni is for "services that assist with their continuing success", she said. For example, the biggest pressure for a new alumni directory -- likely on line, rather than in printed form -- isn't for the sake of reunions and get-togethers, but as a tool in professional networking.

"The majority of alumni leave here wanting to stay connected. The biggest challenge is finding ways to help them stay involved," says Graper.

And more for a busy weekend

Students about to go through the co-op job process for the first time can get help with their resumes by signing up at the reception desk on the first floor of Needles Hall, this morning or Monday, as the co-op department holds a "resume blitz".

The Environmental Studies copy centre will be closed today, thanks to continuing renovations in the building, the graphics department advises.

The information technology career fair being hosted by local companies -- "go high-tech, stay local" is the motto -- continues today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Davis Centre.

The Communitech business association is holding a general meeting at midday in Federation Hall. The invited speaker: federal finance minister Paul Martin.

Rev. Mark Miller, ethicist at St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon, will speak tonight at St. Jerome's University (7:30 p.m., Siegfried Hall). Topic of his free lecture: "Faith and Ethics in the Workplace". Says Miller: "Especially in professional duties, most Catholics find themselves working in a system that fails to pay attention to the faith commitment of its workers. At the same time, there is a new emphasis on the importance of ethical reflection in both private and public life."

Music of India can be heard tonight at the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, Wilfrid Laurier University, in a concert by Irshad Khan (sitar) and Shafaatillah Khan (tabla). These performers "must be seen in action to be believed", says music columnist Cecilia. A longish intermission will provide time for the India-Canada Association to serve a selection of Indian snacks ($2 donation; tickets to the concert itself are $10 to $20). Performance time is 8 p.m.

Waterloo Park will be the site of a Royal Medieval Faire on Saturday, with the bandshell area taken over by wizards, minstrels, spinners and weavers, magicians, bandits, jugglers, merchants, and even a royal family, who will celebrate the marriage of the king's daughter to the winner of a knightly tournament. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., visitors can cast themselves back in time nearly 1,000 years with the help of some 70 actors and performers in period costume, among them several from UW. There'll be a chance to "join the townsfolk and the royal court for a dance at the ceili . . . play drums with the gypsies . . . (and) have a rest in the pub and sing a few of the real oldies with one of the minstrels". Admission is $5 per person; kids under ten are two for one.

Warrior sports events this weekend include a baseball double-header on Saturday against McMaster University. The first game starts at 1 p.m. at Bechtel Park (University Avenue and Bridge Street, Waterloo). The football Warriors host the Guelph Gryphons at 2 p.m. Saturday at University Stadium.

The libraries will be open for limited hours this weekend -- 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Full hours for the fall term will begin next week.

The local Terry Fox Run to support cancer research will begin Sunday at 1 p.m. from Bechtel Park in east Waterloo.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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