Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Some years are just special!

Randip Bakshi http://www.twitter.com/randipbakshi

Some years are just special. 2013, it seems, would be one such year as it marks not one, not two, but three far-reaching milestones. First, the University of Victoria turns fifty this year, establishing itself as a leading, comprehensive research university not just in Canada but across the continent and maybe even beyond. Second, Congress, an annual meeting of Canada's scholars, researchers, and thinkers, turns eighty-two. Finally, it will be the year when its seventieth member, the Sexaulity Studies Association (SSA), came into existence. For many of us the impact of these short lived moments would be but a drop in a rather large academic ocean. With a host of activities to choose from and countless panels across disciplines, some even multidisciplinary, Congress reinforces the true spirit of modern day academia. As an environment for the exchange...

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Panel explores successes and further options for BC’s carbon tax

Vanessa Hawk

The Environmental Studies Association of Canada hosted a panel exploring “The Benefits of Carbon Taxation”, which was sponsored by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and held on Tuesday, June 4 in the Bob Wright Centre.

The panel consisted of James Mack, head of the BC Climate Action Secretariat within the Ministry of Environment, Stewart Elgie, professor of law and economics at the University of Ottawa and Katya Rhodes, Vanier scholar and PhD candidate in sustainable energy management at SFU.

The panel explored the history of BC’s carbon tax and evaluated its environmental and economic impact, concluding that the policy is successful in reducing carbon emissions without deterring...

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Research in practice: Students share their research at the Internship Showcase

Andrina Fawcett http://twitter.com/thecardigangirl

Tuesday afternoon students showcased some of the amazing scholarship they have been producing in relationship with the community at the Congress 2013 Expo Space.

Gaming to gain problem solving skills

Teacher and Educational Psychology PhD student Andrew Sung looked at executive function training in children with autism and spectrum disorder.

Challenges with executive functioning result in problem solving, attention, and working memory difficulties in autistic children. However, as Andrew explained, “if you can improve an autistic child's attention and problem solving skills then that can lead to better school readiness and perhaps better social communication.”  With...

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Much maligned Monsters: Islam, Immigration, and Islamization

Randip Bakshi http://www.twitter.com/randipbakshi

Doug Saunders taking questions after his Big Thinking lecture at Congress 2013

I must confess this was a session I was very skeptical about. I wondered, as Saunders wondered when writing his book, how someone who subscribes to many of these myths could be objective, let alone compassionate, in his analysis. Objectivity aside, I couldn't help but ask myself if anyone was willing to accept Saunders' criticism of the "Muslim Tide" hypothesis. We live in an age where words like extremism, fundamentalism, and Islamophobia are regular adjectives in our day-to-day vocabulary; how, then, does this book purport to counter the very myths that have largely garnered acceptance in...

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Trials and Trust: Joy Kogawa Offers Lessons on the Art of Writing and of Life

Maryse Bernard www.twitter.com/MaryseVictoria

An early start wouldn't keep the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall from filling up for Monday morning’s Big Thinking event. By 7:30 AM, the lobby buzzed with delegates, eager for novelist and poet Joy Kogawa’s “On the Edge of Always” lecture. Upon taking the stage, the writer expressed how she was not only extremely thankful for the audience’s presence, but also overwhelmed.

“These are all people who read, who think, who ponder,” said Kogawa. “It’s actually really unthinkable that I’m here…because I’m not educated. Because I have not even one year of university to my name.”

Humility and gratitude seemed to be a trend amongst this...

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A specter of Canada’s literary past: Tweeting the @Wilfred_Watson Archive

Andrina Fawcett http://twitter.com/thecardigangirl

Nicholas van Orden, Paul Hjartarson and Harvey Quamen’s aptly named “I Tweet Dead People” was presented in partnership with EMiC as part of a larger panel this morning for the Canadian Society for Digital Humanities.

The project, which began primarily as a marketing tool, seeks to highlight scholarship that is being produced in relation to the Wilfred Watson Archive. As Nick van Orden put it, “we wanted to make previously unpublished material accessible to the public”. Wilfred Watson, Canadian author and playwright, was born in early 20th century England, and later relocated to Canada. Obtaining his B.A in English as a mature student, he continued his scholarship and won the Governor General’...

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Medieval Medley: Painting and Sculpture at the CSM Meeting

Randip Bakshi http://www.twitter.com/randipbakshi

The panelists setting up as the session chair looks on. (Featured: John Osborne, Erica Dodd, and Lesley Jessop)

Monday afternoon's session on Painting and Sculpture noted John Osborne, President of the Canadian Society of Medievalists, was a "truly UVic panel" as all of the presenters were affilaited with the University of Victoria. Now this in itself is a compelling point when it comes to medieval art historical scholarship in Canada but we'll get to that momentarily. The panel's three presenters are trained art historians and include Lesley Jessop, Sessional Instructor at the Department of History in Art, Joseph Polzer, Associate Fellow at the Centre for Studies in Religion and...

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Short and sweet – finalist Storytellers present SSHRC funded research projects in 3 minutes or less

Andrina Fawcett http://twitter.com/thecardigangirl

From left to right: Kirk Luther, Manon Jolicœur, Cheryl Heykoop, Steve Wilcox, Janine Stockford, SSHRC President Chad Gaffield

The Congress 2013 Expo space was buzzing early Monday afternoon as the 25 Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers finalists prepared for their presentations. In a pre-performance pep talk, SSHRC president Chad Gaffield confided in the finalists, “it was extremely stiff competition to get here, so you should all be extremely proud of yourselves.”

This is the first year that The Storytellers project has been presented at Congress...

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Panel calls for national-level Open Access infrastructure

Vanessa Hawk

Left to Right: Janet Halliwell, Gisèle Yasmeen, Jean-Francois Fortin, Brian Owen

 

Open access is increasingly becoming a hot issue for academics, publishers and institutions around the world with the advent of free, online access to research that is destabilizing the way in which research and publications are disseminated and funded.

It is no longer a matter of if, but when open access (OA) policy will be implemented in Canada, as was the consensus at the Open Access Symposium on Monday, June 3.

The first panel, “Funding Sustainable Open Access,” included Gisèle Yasmeen, SSHRC VP Research, Jean-Francois Fortin, SSHRC Director Research Portfolio, Brian Owen, Chair of the CARL/CRKN Open Access Task Force and Janet Halliwell, who is a “rewired, not retired”...

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Wishful Thinking Indeed

Randip Bakshi http://www.twitter.com/randipbakshi

Robyn Wiegman's aptly titled lecture "Wishful Thinking: On a Queer Feminist Criticism and the Reparative Turn" was in layman's terms sold out! The room was buzzing with activity an hour before the event was scheduled and the people just kept coming. In many ways the turnout was a sharp reminder that theoretical discourse has indeed become an academic tool. For many of us Wiegman does not need an introduction but that doesn't mean I won't give her one! Robyn Wiegman is currently Professor of Literature and Women's Studies at Duke University having previously taught at various institutions including Syracuse University and the University of California (Irvine). One of the foremost authorities...

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