It was a fitting day for a truly Canadian University. The joint Trent-Carleton Ph.D. Program in Canadian Studies hosted scholars from across Canada and around the world for the week-end of March 10, 2012 for their eighth annual graduate conference at Bagnani Hall. The theme of the conference was “Canada and the New World Order: The National Contexts of Global Change.” Participants spent the weekend in deep discourse about the state of our nation and how we fit into changes that are taking place on a global level.
From uprisings in Greece, Egypt, and Libya, to the growing economic power of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, to fundamental shifts in Canadian federal, provincial, and municipal politics, it has become apparent to academics that a new world order has emerged. The aim of the conference was to examine these and other related issues from a uniquely Canadian perspective.
“When we were first going over ideas for the theme of the conference, the Arab Spring uprisings were just starting,” recalls conference coordinator and Ph.D. candidate, Sean Carleton. “The Madison, Wisconsin Anti-Union Bill protests were heating up. So many social and political movements were springing up across the globe. It became evident that these sweeping political changes were in need of more in-depth study.”
The timing was perfect.
“Since then we’ve witnessed a conservative majority government, scandal upon scandal for this government – including the recent robo-call issue – and what can really be perceived challenges to capitalism and democracy in this nation. Then there are hotspots such as Uganda and Syria where, again, capitalism and democracy are in peril. How people react to these issues will speak volumes about the direction of global politics. And how Canada reacts to these issues will speak volumes about where we’re headed as a country.”
As much as the conference was about exploring themes in Canadian Studies, it was also about providing a supportive and stimulating environment for graduate students to hone their crafts.
“Conferences such as this one provide students with the fundamental questions that they need to engage in,” explained Dr. Julia Harrison, director of the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies. “And they do so in a setting of high-caliber academic discourse.”
For Sean Carleton, the conference represents an opportunity to build presentations and to address both his peers and established scholars.
“You can get incredible feedback from people who have made careers out of presenting their research,” he explains, “people who are giants in the field. You can also see the nature of your own research change as both faculty and fellow students ask deep, probing questions about your work. It causes you to reflect more deeply on your own research and can be very influential on the direction you are going in academically.”
For more information on the conference, and for a full list of papers presented, please see http://www.trentu.ca/frostcentre/newsevents.php
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2012.