Category Archives: Publications

STEM Education in Canada

Just uploaded “Status and Trends of STEM Education in Canada” to my account: Canada is at various crossroads and one of these is STEM education. The Canadian government anticipates that STEM will be a catalyst for economic and cultural change. After a decade of federal policies and funds for STEM education, there is little to show in K-12 schools and teacher education programs. The vast majority of non-profit, private sector, and professional society policy recommendations reinforce the federal government’s lead. This chapter provides a critical analysis of challenges, policies, practices, and trends in STEM education in Canada. The chapter primarily focuses on K-12 STEM education and teacher education and tangentially on postsecondary STEM education.

Philosophy of technology for children and youth II

Forthcoming: MacDowell, P. & Petrina, S. (2020/2021). Philosophy of technology for children and youth II. In STEM in Education 2020/2021 proceedings (pp. xx-xx). Vancouver, BC: EDCP.

Philosophy of technology for children and youth I

Just published: Petrina, S. (2020). Philosophy of technology for children and youth. In P. J. Williams & D. Barlex, (Eds.), Pedagogy for technology education in secondary schools (pp. 311-323). Dordrecht, NL: Springer.

See Pedagogy for technology education in secondary schools.

Soul (Slow Online and Ubiquitous Learning): Analysis and Regulation of Instructional Time

We just uploaded “Soul (Slow Online and Ubiquitous Learning): Analysis and Regulation of Instructional Time,” which will be presented at the upcoming STEM in education in conference here at UBC.

ABSTRACT: This paper addresses an experimental and innovative pedagogy and philosophy: Slow Online and Ubiquitous Learning (SOUL). Since 2011, the co-authors have implemented SOUL as a pedagogy and philosophy into the online courses they teach at a university level. Pedagogically, SOUL is a pragmatic temporal regulation that limits and paces course commitments for students and instructors. Philosophically, SOUL is an intervention into the conventional wisdom that portrays online learning as a limitless exchange of ideas 24/7. This paper reviews relevant research on time, provides a theoretical framework that underwrites SOUL, and analyzes instructors’ and students’ experiences and self-study data.

Intelligence, reparations and the US Army Air Forces, 1944-1947

Petrina, S. (2019). “Scientific Ammunition to Fire at Congress:” Intelligence, reparations and the US Army Air Forces, 1944-1947. Journal of Military History, 83(3), 795-829.

I recently published a major article on the history of the Air Force: This article synthesizes histories of Operation LUSTY, the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG), and Project PAPERCLIP, and follows the SAG into Germany’s R&D installations, the concentration camp Dora at Mittelwerk, allied interrogation facilities, Japan and the atom bomb, and finally into Congress, 1945. The history of the SAG’s efforts from 1944 to 1947 reveals the intensity with which the AAF and its consultants in the aeronautical sciences pursued Nazi R&D. The fact that an exploitation of this R&D configured into the postwar policies of the AAF and USAF is accepted by historians. This article explains how this was done by describing the coordination of LUSTY, OVERCAST, PAPERCLIP, and the SAG in the AAF’s exploitation of intelligence and reparations for postwar policies and politics.

Although initially cautious about the implications of recruiting personnel for R&D in the US, engineers and scientists in the SAG were anxious to transfer Nazi technologies to the AAF. Whether or not the military “was sold— or sold itself— an expensive bill of goods” by Nazi scientists and technologists, as a reporter concluded at the time, remains a historical question.

Critique of Media & Technology Workshop @LatourBot #sts


Wednesday, April 29, 2015
10:20-12:00     Scarfe 1209
Year of Research in Education event #yreubc


Stephen Petrina
University of British Columbia

This workshop focuses on the Critique of Media & Technology. The first part of the workshop includes a presentation and discussion on a forthcoming chapter. The second part of the workshop focuses on the process of researching and writing with special attention to philosophical and historical research 2.0 and narrative. How can we or ought we write a (big) history of the critique of media and technology?

The chapter begins with the spiritual critique of media and technology and proceeds historically through cultural criticism and social, psychic, ontic, and identic critiques. Differentiated from the spiritual critique that precedes, cultural criticism of media and technology emerges in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as a mode of describing and depicting the mechanical arts. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, spiritual critique is displaced through a rejection of religion and theology as sources of modern authority. With spiritual ground undermined, social, psychic, ontic, and identic critics of media and technology compete for defensible ground for leverage. The history of critique is a search for ground. This chapter historicizes the critique of media and technology as well as critique as a practice that has run out of steam. “Critical distance” from or “free relation” to media and technology— a seductive orientation since the 1940s— has been instrumental in critique’s gradual decline. The critique of critique has quickened the decline. The conclusion questions the short-term future of machinic critique and long-term renewal of spiritual critique.

Download the Critique of Media & Technology chapter.

New Research on the Automation of Education and the MET Program

In memory of David F. Noble, I am revisiting the automation of education and trends in the MET program here at UBC.  My first report was published in 2005: “How (and why) Digital Diploma Mills (don’t) Work: Academic Freedom, Intellectual Property Rights, Automation and UBC’s Master of Educational Technology Program.” The MET program is now ten years old and on first glance, many of the problems documented in 2005 still exist with the most poignant being a continued exploitation of sessional or part-time faculty members.  At that time, I chronicled:

MET sessionals work without basic support and for a piecemeal wage of $220 (CD) per student. When necessities, such as office space, a monthly photocopy allocation, and a phone budget were requested, the MET Coordinator asserted that these niceties are unnecessary for S2S courses (Gaskell, 2005). Laptop and workstation requests were similarly denied. After calculating the time that MET sessionals spend in attending to the everyday demands of S2S courses, remuneration for teaching MET courses disintegrates into the average national minimum wage ($7.30 per hour) or worse. (p. 51)

After ten years, none of this has changed save for a minor increase in the piecemeal wage.  After ten years, the program has yet to be submitted to a review. Once again, time for an empirical analysis of the MET program.

“Preschools for Science” Awarded Founders’ Prize by CHEA

A recent article written with Penney Clark and Mona Gleason, “Preschools for science: The Child Study Centre at the University of British Columbia, 1960-1997,” was awarded the 2012 Founders’ Prize by the Canadian History of Education Association! The award winning article can be found in volume 52, Issue #1 of the History of Education Quarterly. 

The development of the Child Study Centre (CSC) at UBC provides a unique perspective on the complex and often contradictory relationship between child study and preschool education in postwar Canada. In this article, we detail the development and eventual closure of the CSC at UBC, focusing on the uneasy interdependencies of scientific child study research and the education of preschoolers. Similar to laboratory schools on Canadian campuses, the CSC was a strange hybrid of school and clinic, educational classroom and psychological lab, a place intended to cultivate both cutting edge research and children’s imaginations.

Postliterate Machineries

One might just as well be machinic rather than literate in the way one would “rather be a cyborg than a goddess.”  Literacies are certainly “legion,” but reach semantic saturation or exaggeration against an analog of mediation and machination.  The sheen of the “new” is worn and tarnished yet literacies are wont to saturate while exhaustion sets in against a failure to reduce or subject all to literal experience.  Of course, the saturation half of the thesis is well explored and exploited but the machinic counterpart to the literate is entirely underplayed.  To simplify, literacies signify reading and writing while machineries signify processing and designing; literacies signify acquisition and gatherings while machineries signify diffusion and assemblages.  With no intention of negating the literate, the goal of this chapter is to recognize generations and significations of machineries over time.  By tracing histories of machinic thought and documenting the exhaustion of literacies, this chapter informs and elaborates our conversation about what we have, know, or can acquire with what we became or what is becoming of human-machine assemblages, diffusion, and cyborgenic machinations.  Henceforth and once again, claims staked on dimensions of natural, cultural, and artificial experience are contested: Is it literacies or machineries at work and play?

Machineries, like literacies, are material, metaphoric, and metaphysical and one necessity is rewriting histories and philosophies of the two in analog. This chapter provides a history of machineries and literacies, beginning with a history of the Deus ex Machina. Subsequent sections trace the history of machineries, history of literacies, and contemporary renderings of the postliterate. For a copy of the chapter, email Stephen Petrina.

The New Critiquette

This article coins and juxtaposes two new concepts or terms, critiquette and scholactivism, distilled from longstanding practices.  Critiquette refers to the etiquette of critique as well as little everyday criticisms we level on each other and things we evaluate.  Scholactivism refers to scholar-activism, which has recently run up against policies designed to suppress criticism and academic freedom, and contradicts contemporary trends in the critique of critique.  Following analysis of the new critiquette policies, including respectful environment and workplace decrees, the article provides two historical narratives of critiquette.  The first is a history of the etiquette of critique and criticism while the second attends to historical and theoretical practices in the critique of critique (e.g., Latour and Ranciere).  The last section addresses the academic freedom implications of critical mannerisms.  Although the new critiquette issues from academic managers invested in critiphobia and offers a series of disturbing threats to academic freedom, criticism, and critique, old scholactivism is nevertheless on the upswing with economic and cultural protest unsettling routine academic matters. Download The New Critiquette and Old Scholactivism: A Petit Critique of Academic Manners, Managers, Matters, and Freedom