Blog Archive

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A work of genius: Carleton University appoints controversial Professor of Dadaist Geology, Jim Harrison

Carleton University, affectionately known to alumni as “Last Chance U” and to residents of Ottawa as “that other place”, today announced the appointment of Jim Harrison to the newly created and controversial Chair of Dadaist Geology. The position grants full tenure and the holder will be expected to teach according to Dadaist principles.
Professor Jim Harrison, a former mechanical engineer who found that a commitment to chaos and irrationality was an impediment to building functional bridges, is looking forward to starting his new job. “The Geology Department has long taken the position that nothing can ever really be known for sure, so why bother finding out? It’s a perfect fit for my personal pedagogical philosophy. This appointment is a wonderful opportunity to push the boundaries of what academics can teach to students.”
The new chair is a radical departure from the normally staid traditions of academia, but par for the course at Carleton. Dr. John Willis, of the Canadian Institute of Research and a Carleton alumni, commented: “The Geology Department has always made the effort to avoid the strictures of convention. You say scientific consensus, they say massive worldwide conspiracy. You say anthropogenic global warming, they say no, climate always changes. This new approach is a natural evolution for them. It’s nice to see it explicitly stated. Some students would get upset when they turn up for a class on a scientific topic and end up watching grainy YouTube videos of confused elderly men ranting about an imminent ice age. At least now they won’t be surprised.”
While some people may be concerned with the establishment of a university teaching position that is opposed to actually educating students, Carleton University is standing by their new Professor.
The Dean of Studies, who only agreed to be interviewed with a dark-suited union rep present in the room, carefully explained: “Under the collective agreement, lecturers have the freedom to express their opinions, and well, oddly enough there’s no requirement that course content be based on actual scientific knowledge, wait, really? Right. And, well, tenure is an important institution for ensuring the freedom to express, shall we say, controversial ideas, so Professor Harrison has our support. I mean our full support.”
The Chair of Dadaist Geology was funded by Sincore, an oil company with extensive operations in the Alberta oil sands. When reached for comment, a spokesman explained that Carleton was a natural choice: “we have plenty of qualified geologists up here. What we need are people to do the more menial, yet still essential, tasks. Like flipping burgers. So long as Carleton’s Geology Department can graduate people with basic motor skills, we’re happy. Besides, if we wanted field geologists we’d go to UBC.”
Whatever the critics say, students are excited about the new course outline. In an upcoming palaeontology lecture students will be expected to flop around on the floor in front of the chalkboard like lungfish, pretend to develop rudimentary appendages, and slowly ‘evolve’ their way to their desks. For another class, Harrison has built a climate model entirely out of bike parts, sprockets, springs, and the remains of a small wind-up clock. In a hands-on approach to climate modeling, it will be used to falsify the greenhouse effect by showing that when exposed to carbon dioxide it fails to warm up.
At time of writing, the course was fully subscribed.

No comments: