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The role of universities in promoting misinformation through rankings - 6 June 2022

This event was part of the CPPR Lunchtime Seminar series.

Please note that this event has passed.

Ubiquitous statements by top-ranked universities express a commitment to expanding public and policy conversations around the pressing problems facing the planet, including climate and social justice. However, these same universities brand themselves as world-class based on media-driven rankings that are arguably antithetical to responding to these issues coherently and meaningfully.

Scholars have critiqued the methodology of major rankings repeatedly, yet their influence on policy increases. Scholarly work has also demonstrated rankings privilege wealthy universities in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada who achieved much of this wealth through the theft of Indigenous lands, slavery and imperialism. Today at least some of the wealth from the top-ranked universities is obtained through funding from the fossil fuel industry and military contracts. 

Dr Stack will argue that the impact of mediatised rankings is relatively new but that their success continues a long tradition of engaging universities in performing the role of the learned actor in the colonial project. Universities do provide space for critique, but the question remains if these critiques are also part of the mediatisation of higher education. She will end her presentation by examining the possibilities of cooperatively governed networks of scholars and activists to provide an effective counter to rankings through developing scholarly informed spaces to expand ways of thinking about living, working and learning together in perilous times.


Michelle Stack, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia. She is the author of Global University Ranking and the Mediatization of Higher Education, Global University Rankings and the Politics of Knowledge (Open Access Book) and Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic: University rankings or co-operatives as a strategy for developing an equitable and resilient post-secondary education sector? and co-editor of a book with Dr. André Mazawi, Course Syllabi in Faculties of Education Bodies of Knowledge and their Discontents, International and Comparative Perspectives.

She can be found on Twitter @MIchelleLStack or

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