Real Academic Planning (RAP) is a public site dedicated to safeguarding academic quality at Queen’s University and by extension in all of Ontario’s post-secondary education. It belongs to Queen’s faculty and students and assumes the principle that academic ends are best served by open and honest public discussion and by transparency in record-keeping. This site is open to all viewpoints (see below for information about posting).
RAP uses WordPress blogging software but it is not a blog. It is a notice-board for emerging issues and a forum for their discussion. It includes original posts and re-postings, including important administrative documents, and keeps them all in chronological sequence.
Thus RAP serves also as a chronicle. This function is necessary to extend collective memory. Universities are extraordinarily complex, multi-functional institutions with a rapid turnover of personnel, especially among their student bodies. They are liable, therefore, to lose the thread of one issue when another arises, and to forget what was done or promised the year before last. A searchable chronicle with ample links, cross-references, and indexes helps individuals working within the institution fight this liability, maintain memory, and preserve standards and quality for the many yet to come.
The name “Real Academic Planning” implies opposition to “academic planning” that is not really academic. By “academic” we mean of, by, and for academics, that is, the faculty and students within the institution. For these are the people involved in the front lines of research, teaching, and learning (which constitute the real “business” of a university), and these are therefore the people who know best what is required to maintain or improve quality in these functions. We take it as axiomatic that real academic planning should involve faculty and students primarily and keep their research, teaching, and learning needs primarily in mind. We are therefore interested in maintaining genuinely collegial and democratic input through the proper structure and conduct of our Faculty Boards and Queen’s Senate.
Universities obviously need financial planning also. But it is not the same as academic planning and should not be done in the name of academic planning. This site was born and named at a time when the “academic planning” at Queen’s was being slanted toward financial ends—when expedients such as virtualized classrooms, larger class sizes, course-re-weightings, departmental amalgamations, and the widespread use of undergraduate TAs were being advanced in the name of academic improvement. Although academic standards must, no doubt, compromise at times with financial necessities, we believe it is crucial to remain alert to the distinction between proposals intended to save money and proposals intended to improve academic quality; otherwise one can never strike a wise balance between these two.
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Last updated 31 March 2012