University professors only work for 3 hours a day, 4 days a week, 7 months a year, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. Research is the hidden side of university work. Saying a professor only teaches a few hours a week is like saying a pharmacist “only” counts pills; behind the scenes there is a lot going on that most people are unaware of.
That’s the motivation behind Cape Breton University’s Research Week. The idea is to celebrate our researchers, and to promote their work to the wider community. Research can be difficult, gruelling work. But it can be fun, too. The excitement of inquiry is why most academics went into their work in the first place, the drive to discover things and to continue to learn about the world around them. So in the other hours of the day, when faculty aren’t doing university or community service, class prep or teaching, they’re researching, writing up their work to submit to academic journals and other publications, or preparing presentations for conferences or public events.
CBU has something else to be proud of when it comes to research; despite being a small university, it offers students a huge opportunity to get experience as paid student researchers. And small class sizes typically mean that students get to have one-on-one supervision from professors to discuss research projects. Third and fourth year classes tend to be small and specialised and lend themselves to a lot of hands-on research. We’re quite used to this locally, but as an academic who has had experience at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick and Memorial University of Newfoundland, I have to say that we are unique in offering that opportunity to our students, and it certainly helps them economically, and as they apply to other jobs or to do further university degrees.
This week, from March 23-27, is Celebrating Research Week at CBU. Throughout the week, research profiles will be on the CBU website, and researchers will be interviewed on CBC Radio. There are several public events, all of which are located around the Great Hall area in CBU’s Culture & Heritage Building. On Thursday there is a presentation by Dr. Edwin MacLellan about his development work in Zambia at 2:30pm; and Friday will be a day of faculty research presentations in the morning (from 10am until 12:20pm, see website for a full schedule) and student presentations in the afternoon (1-4:30pm). On Saturday is the Teaching & Technology Showcase, with class presentations from physics, engineering, and geology. During this time period, from March 25-27, the Mechanic Street Housing Research Project is running a design competition with preselected groups from local high schools at their experimental house.
All events are free, but there is a small fee to park on campus.