After the success of last year’s conference on the theme of “Skyscrapers to Slums”, the Student Association for International Development (SAID) at Trent is busy preparing for the eighth annual Community Movements Conference in early 2015. The conference, which is student-run, is one of the main events organized by SAID, and offers Trent students a great opportunity to connect with respected academics and learn more about the process of furthering discourse in their field.
Mauricio Interiano, a Trent International Program (TIP) Scholar from Honduras majoring in International Development Studies and Sociology, spoke on behalf of the entire conference committee about the challenges and opportunities associated with organizing a conference of this scale: “I feel that the biggest challenge in organizing a conference like this lies in communication and inclusivity. In order to have a successful conference everyone has to be on the same page and equally involved and informed, especially with such a large group of organizers,” he said.
However, the payoffs of such a challenge are notable, as many of the skills involved are transferable to other aspects of life both in and outside of the classroom. These include clear communication, problem solving, budgeting, and understanding team dynamics. Mr. Interiano mentioned this as well: “I believe that the conference provides many opportunities for skill improvement, as members interact with various social actors and consider the diversity of needs and perspectives within the Trent community and larger society.”
Inclusivity has long been one of the conference’s main goals, and Mr. Interiano believes that fostering it is one of the strengths of the student-run format. As he notes, “student-run conferences do have a different quality than purely academic conferences on a number of different levels... Student-organized conferences tend to be more relevant to youth and create a welcoming environment where discussion can take place.”
As well, Mr. Interiano recognizes that the networking opportunities provided by managing a conference are profound: “Students are provided opportunities to widen their perspectives and expand their social networks as they form connections with a wide range of participants, from activists and academics, to policy-makers and community group leaders.”
Focused around the theme of “The New Extractivism,” the 2015 conference will explore how extractivism – the process of using natural resource extraction to fund economic and social growth in developing countries – affects society in various contexts. Mr. Interiano notes that this is a topic ripe for further exploration: “The [organizing] committee feels that this topic is highly relevant in today’s global context since there are various extractivist efforts being carried out in the name of economic growth. The conference will be looking at these extractivist activities as well as the conflict and resistance surrounding them.”
To learn more about the conference, visit the SAID website.
Posted on Thursday, November 27, 2014.