Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Sylvie Proulx, a musical treat at Congress 2014

Samara Bissonnette

While Brock University is bustling and buzzing with exciting Congress lectures, sessions, and series, it is also sharing unexpected little gems for the attendees this week. This afternoon, the Canadian University Music Society (MusCan) shared with us the musical treat, Sylvie Proulx and her solo guitar performance. Sylvie is from Memorial University and at Congress she presented a selection of Latin American pieces from artists like Cacho Tirao, Abel Fleury and Astor Piazzolla. Indeed, you could say that for half an hour in the theatre at Brock University, Sylvie had us under her musical spell. 

To say that the performance was breathtaking would be saying the very least. The theatre filled with eager and interested Congress delegates and a handful of young students, volunteers and...

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The workplace and labour studies face a challenging future

Doug Junke

Despite hard-fought gains over the years, the Canadian labour movement knows that it is not a time to stand still and be complacent.

That was evident at the Canadian Association for Work and Labour Studies (CAWLS) plenary session at Congress 2014 on Thursday, entitled “The past, present and future of work and labour studies.”

In her wide-ranging talk, Stephanie Ross, founding president of CAWLS and a political science professor at York University, said there “has been a real thirst for progressive research” but that it has been “a struggle to get labour studies into universities and to keep them there.”

Joining Ross on the panel were Bryan Palmer of Trent University and Winnie Ng of Ryerson University.

Ross said that existing university programs – many developed in the 1960s at a time of rank and file...

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The gift of life

Terry Soleas

"Blood can bring out the best of human virtues, our basest urges and some of the worst in humanity.” Lawrence Hill, a celebrated and acclaimed Canadian author was at Congress on Thursday, May 29 to deliver one of his Massey Series of Lectures on the topic of blood’s place in society, based on his bestseller Blood, the Stuff of Life.

Hill, a celebrated writer of both fiction and non-fiction stated early in his lecture that “There is much to unite those write fiction & those who write non-fiction”. He also quipped that when he told his mother that he was delivering a Big Thinking lecture she asked him ”That’s great Larry, but why you?”

On the topic of blood’s place in society, Hill stated that it holds a central dichotomy in the human psyche as blood can embody the best of humankind as often as it can manifest in the worst of human...

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Mayors for a better Canada

Jessica Dixon

True to my age, a cynical perspective regarding the effectiveness of Canada’s democratic structure flows through my veins. With this in mind, I attended American Professor, Benjamin Barber’s presentation (and the following panel) about the message of his new book If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities. This Big Thinking session forced me to reconsider whether it is democracy itself that is malfunctioning, or the people involved.

“Citizens tend to trust their elected city officials more than those occupying federal positions” Barber began, outlining the issues with those in parliament being so far removed from the public, “Surprisingly, Rob Ford had more support...

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The towers in the world, the worlds in the towers

Samara Bissonnette

HIGHRISE. An incredibly modern, collaborative, inspiring digital project connecting voices from high rise buildings all over the world. These big concrete mammoths of architecture are "containers of human experience", and this interactive web documentary allows users to discover "the towers in the world, and the worlds in the towers".

The National Film Board, with an extensive team of researchers, creators, academics, digital artists, volunteers and high rise residents, has made the idea of one Katerina Cizek come to life in a project called Highrise that has successfully challenged and reinvented the language of storytelling.

In this exploration of technology and...

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The Robin Hood of academics - open access publishing debate series

Samara Bissonnette

In "Open Access and the future of academic publishing", the second installment of a three part debate series on copyright and the modern academic, Glen Rollan and Michale Geist attacked the highly controversial academic subject of open access publication. Once upon a time, open access - defined here as free and accessible sources for the masses - was the dominant means of publication. Since then however, academic sources have become harder for authors to publish and in turn, harder for the average reader to access. In the last few years, there has been an on-going struggle to bring back open access once again! A sort of Robin...

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Feeding the future: A Canadian standoff

Terry Soleas

Genome Canada presented a draft brief that they have been refining as a part of their GE3LS (Genomics and its Ethical, Environmental, Economic, Legal and Social aspects) Series at Congress 2014 entitled  “Feeding the Future: Can Scientists, Regulators and Activists agree?”. Genome Canada is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2000 to administer and foster large-scale genomics research in Canada. Thus far, Genome Canada has invested 2.3 billion dollars in...

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A new imagination - Catherine Dauvergne and the new politics of immigration

Samara Bissonnette

In an installment of the Big Thinking series for Congress 2014, Catherine Dauvergne delivered one of her newest big ideas yesterday at Brock University in a presentation titled "The End of Settler Societies and the New Politics of Immigration". As a member of The Trudeau Foundation, which was founded in 2001 in tribute to the humanitarian virtues of Pierre Trudeau himself, Dauvergne acts as a pro-bono lawyer, a teacher, and a student of research herself, as she researches a new understanding of the politics of immigration around the world, with particular attention to our Canadian home. As a professor, she imparts advice and assistance to young scholars in her field and maintains the belief that "to really do justice to a big idea, you need time more than anything else", to which she added that "the Trudeau Foundation is a gift of time" to her...

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Being the best research assistant you can be

Terry Soleas

Dr. Michelle McGinn in an extension of her role as the Associate Dean of Research and International Initiatives led a workshop on helping research assistants deepen their engagement with the research process, improve their skillset as well as improve their marketability. The workshop began with a reflective exercise to determine what each attendee knew, wanted to know, and had learned.

Those present participated in case studies, interactive discussions and collaborative activities to explore some common dilemmas, challenges and opportunities often faced by research assistants. The groups then nominated one member to present their group findings.

Being a research assistant, I found the workshop extremely helpful. Some common themes included discussions of what research assistants do, what are the benefits...

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Real world plot-lines and violent media

Jessica Dixon

As a member of the media-obsessed public, I take pride in my expansive knowledge regarding technological developments and other forms of media produced by our digital culture. I have grown up with the re-enforced idea that this mind-set is a good one to have; however, critical-thinker Rose Dyson has dared to ask the question: “is it?”

On Wednesday, May 28 Brock University’s Schmon Tower Boardroom was filled with eager listeners as Dyson gave a keynote address for the Canadian Peace Research Association (CPRA) entitled “Peace building in a digital age”. Focusing on the implications surrounding the over-consumption of violent media, Dyson examined how this could impact on...

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