Bullying in Higher Education

Decorative: A lone academic being bullied by five other academics climbing out of an office desk and one giant academic standing behind them


1. "Culture of Cruelty: Why Bullying Thrives in Higher Education" (online article) begins with the premise that, "In an environment where discussion, debate and criticism are encouraged, undermining behaviour can flourish."

The article surveys causes of bullying in the workplace and then focuses on why bullying occurs and how it manifests in the academic context. Topic considered include the following:

  • "What causes bullying: personality or environment?"
  • "Undermining behaviour: part of the job for academics?"
  • "So how can employees beat bullying? Here's what to do if you are facing bullying at work"

2. The article also links to a Canadian study: "Bullying of Academics in Higher Education" which examines the following:

  • "Have people been bullied?"
  • "How long has this been going on?"
  • "Who is doing what?"
  • "Severity, location, and motivation of the potential bully"
  • "Impact of bullying on work"
  • "Impact and spillover"
  • "Response of university administration"
  • "Institutionalized element"

3. The article also recommends a book called Workplace Bullying in Higher Education. The library summary of that text lists the following as some common bullying behaviours in higher education:

  • "constant public humiliation by a new department chair"
  • "exclusion of a contingent faculty member"
  • "undermining of work performance by a supervisor"
  • "stalking by a staff member"
  • "taunting"

Recognizing that, "As higher education institutions continue to face budget issues and external pressure, the incidences of bullying are on the rise, [t]his edited volume provides guidance on the nature and impact of bullying, legal and ethical issues, and approaches to assist leaders in facing these challenges in their colleges and universities." 

"Research-based chapters cover the [following]":

  • "impact of bullying on the workforce"
  • "the ways that bullying manifests within different sub-cultures and at different institutions including community colleges"
  • "the legal and ethical issues of bullying"
  • "recommendations to address bullying on campus"

"Exploring bullying policies and innovative programs, this book provides a better understanding of how to rethink current policies and practices to proactively create more civil cultures." 

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