English Matters

Contract Academic Faculty in Canadian Departments of English: A Best-Practices Checklist

Over the past months, a task force of committed ACCUTE members has been working on a checklist of “best practices” designed specifically to further greater awareness of, and respect for, the work of contract faculty members within Canadian Departments of English.  Everyone involved in the composition of this checklist has been acutely aware of the fact that the treatment of contract academic faculty within the Canadian university system is now structurally untenable, that it has been so for some time, and that working conditions for contract faculty professionals are in fact getting worse.  Inhumane working relations prevail within the institutional Humanities, and real change will only come when university-based faculty agreements, which differ from place to place, are opened for profound re-examination and rewritten with a view to genuine inclusivity and equity for scholars and teachers across the configurations of the post-secondary educational system.

The ACCUTE “Best-Practices” Checklist, which we are releasing today through our system of campus representatives, is designed to address things that every Department of English in Canada can do now in order to improve, at least in some small ways, the situation contract academic faculty face in the practice of their profession.  We are asking our campus representatives  – and indeed all interested parties – to circulate this checklist within their Departments, and we are asking our colleagues in the Canadian Association of Chairs of English (CACE) to find a place for a discussion of this document in their Department Council meetings.   We think that such a discussion can prove useful, even when — as will often be the case — the checklist points are ones that the Department already subscribes to in principle.  Principle and practice do not always coincide.  And even when they do, there is now a need for greater institutional mindfulness in regard to that enormous class of academics who now teach what may be the majority of undergraduate students in the Canadian postsecondary educational system.

We welcome the interest of our fellow scholarly associations in this process, and would be very glad to see them adopt or adapt these checklist principles within their own scholarly disciplines.

The ACCUTE Best-Practices Checklist for Contract Academic Faculty in Canadian Departments of English is located at:


Task Force Members

Michael Brisbois (MacEwen)

Heidi Tiedemann Darroch (Victoria)

Dorothy Hadfield (Waterloo)

Jason Haslam (Dalhousie)

Nat Hurley (Alberta)

Luke Maynard (Huron)

Laura Schechter (Alberta)

Stephen Slemon (Alberta)

Erin Wunker (Mount Alison)

Categories: English Matters

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