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‘Academic squatter’ banned from campus

By Hamish Johnston

Thanks to blogger Chad Orzel for pointing out this story from the old country.

According to an article in the Ottawa Sun, the University of Ottawa has suspended physics professor Denis Rancourt and banned him from campus — apparently because of his attempts at changing how a physics course is taught.

Writing in 2007, Rancourt explained: “In response to twenty years of observing classes that both delivered soulless material and served mainly to prepare students to be obedient and indoctrinated employees, I felt I had to do something more than give a ‘better’ physics course.”

Things seem to have come to a head last May, when The Sun says Rancourt tried to give everyone in his Physics and the Environment class an A+. As far as I can tell, this was an act of what Rancourt calls “academic squatting…where one openly takes an existing course and does with it something different”.

You can read more about academic squatting and Rancourt’s other views on his blog.

Rancourt encourages academics to use the freedom of tenure to take hold of the courses they teach and change them.

“Tenure – use it or lose it,” he writes in a 2007 blog entry on academic squatting

It looks like this has become more than just rhetoric for Rancourt and the university brass.

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One comment to ‘Academic squatter’ banned from campus

  1. If Rancourt could improve a Green’s Functions course then let him squat on. If he cannot then he does not know squat.
    My physics professors seem to create quite a bit to make a point. Most physics professors seem to be ‘free-wheeling’ cats; take Schrodinger, for example. Has something changed?


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