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Digital Subscriptions > Quill & Quire > December 2018 > NEWS Classroom confidential

NEWS Classroom confidential

A new survey paints a grim portrait of academic contract life at Canadian post-secondary institutions

Terra Poirier planned to shoot a portrait series using a pinhole camera for her final undergraduate project at Emily Carr University of Art & Design. She selected contract employees from the school and, by playing with the photos’ exposure, blurred her subjects’ movements. The resulting images represent the constant motion and energy required by these contract employees to sustain a living.

But Poirier realized that photos alone could not capture the personal and professional toll of precarious academic contract work, which according to a study released in September by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, increased by 79 per cent from 2005 to 2015. The study is an eye-opening look at how gig employment affects the mental, creative, and financial health of instructors, as well as the quality of education they are providing under those conditions.

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