Dear friends of the Kule Institute for Advanced Study,
The 2014 – 2015 Winter term is well underway. What have Kule Scholars been doing? This Newsletter is to update you on some of the research projects and events supported over the last months by KIAS:
Kule Celebration and Announcement of 2015 Research Clusters
KIAS reached a threshold moment this year in awarding a total of $500,000 to six outstanding Clusters across the social sciences, humanities and fine arts under its new Research Cluster Grant program. On the institute’s 5th anniversary celebration KIAS brought social science, arts and humanities researchers together at the TIMMS Centre to celebrate the visionary contributions of the Kules and to announce the 2015 Cluster Grant recipients whose projects span multiple areas, including water, the environment, social, cultural and political issues and modern and indigenous languages. The formal program featured congratulatory remarks from MLA Matt Jeneroux (Edmonton South-West, Chair of the Capital Region Caucus), Lorne Babiuk (VP Research) and Lesley Cormack (Dean, Faculty of Arts), short project presentations from the Cluster recipients, as well as Ukrainian folk music performed by the Enterprise Quartet honoring the Kules. Alberta Premier Jim Prentice sent a letter of congratulations to the institute. About 100 people attended the event, including the founding benefactors Drs. Peter and Doris Kule. For short summaries of the cluster projects see http://uofa.ualberta.ca/kule-institute/projects
KIAS partnered with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity (ICCC) at the University of Saskatchewan to announce a joint research team building grant opportunity for teams at both the University of Alberta and the University of Saskatchewan. This opportunity is designed to encourage the formation of research teams spanning both universities. For details please see https://kuleinstitute.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/alberta-saskatchewan-research-collaboration-grants-apply-by-april-15th-2015/
KIAS is also collaborating with CHCI, centerNet and the University of Western Sydney to organize a symposium for new scholars interested in the digital humanities. The two-day unconference event is timed to take place before DH 2015 (dh2015.org) at the University of Western Sydney in Sydney. For further information see
Born Before and After the Collapse: Soviet Past and post-Soviet Present as Interpreted by Two Generations in Russia, Romania and Ukraine
Eduard Baidaus, a PhD candidate at the Department of History and Classics presented a Kule Dialogue talk about the perception of Soviet past and post-Soviet present by Soviet-born adults and post-Soviet youth in these three countries. The talk centered on the interpretation of the Soviet foreign policy, perception of the Great Patriotic War, attitudes towards the Communist traditions and the assessment of political and territorial separatism in the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union’s republics.
Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) Conference
The 15th annual conference of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium (ESC) was held on October 5 – 8, 2014. This was the first time the conference had been held outside the United States. Hosted by the Faculty of Extension and championed by Dr. Lois Gander, it brought together academics and community members from nine countries to discuss and demonstrate how interactions between universities and communities are changing. This conference explored a number of reasons why universities and communities choose to work together and what is needed for effective collaboration. These discussions contributed to greater understanding of the scope and potential of university-community engagement.
Falling Walls Lab UAlberta 2014
Falling Walls is an international format originating from Germany for young researchers from all disciplines to showcase their innovative ideas in three minutes in front of a distinguished jury with members from academia, business and government. The U of A was one of only 20 universities invited by the Falling Walls Foundation to host an international lab in 2014. The three winners of the U of A lab (organized by the Office of the Vice-President Research) advanced to the international finale in Berlin, where one of them (Nermeen Youssef) ended up taking second place with her presentation called ‘Breaking the Wall of Type 1 Diabetes’. The presentations from the U of A lab can be viewed on the UAlberta Youtube channel
(https://www.youtube.com/user/UniversityofAlberta) under the Falling Walls Lab UAlberta 2014 playlist.
Forum and Exhibition Around Free Press, Freedom of Speech and Charlie Hebdo
Guest speakers from a wide variety of areas (Political Science, MLCS, Centre for Constitutional Studies, History & Classics, Globe and Mail, Metro Edmonton) offered their perspectives on the impact of the attacks in Paris this past January before opening the discussion to the audience. An exhibition (displayed in the Arts Hallway and EPL) gathered visual information about the magazine Charlie Hebdo, the tradition of insolent caricatures in France, controversies about the representation of religious and political figures in a wider context, reactions from all over the world illustrating the symbolic impact of murdering Charlie’s cartoonists, and a number of perspectives collected on campus. More information at
Homonationalism and the Biopolitics of Polygamy
The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies brought Suzanne Lenon (University of Lethbridge) as speaker to its second annual Valentine’s Day with Feminism Lecture. Lenon discussed the 2011 Polygamy Reference as a site of biopolitical anxiety assuaged (in part) through its own gestures of homonational inclusion, that is the enfolding of lesbian and gay subjects to preserve and protect monogamous marriage against the specter of polygamy’s degeneracy. Her lecture explored the entangled histories of colonialism, race and empire that underpin this legal decision, and which enable the Court to mobilize a homonational critique of polygamy in the first place.
Social & Cultural Innovation Hackathon
KIAS sponsored the inaugural Tomorrow’s Ideas, Now: Social & Cultural Innovation Hackathon that took place in November as part of the 2nd annual Festival of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities. The weekend opened with a keynote address by Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell. On Saturday, eleven energetic students from across disciplines came together to develop solutions to such questions as “How do we make electronic communications more accessible to students with disabilities?” and “How can we combat social isolation on campus by creating a more inclusive and supportive atmosphere?” Within a matter of hours, the student teams hacked their way toward prototypes: a “social geocaching” app, meant to help students document and share life on campus, a new electronic notetaking platform for students with disabilities, and “Stories without Borders,” a storytelling platform that aims to connect students through their personal stories.
SSHRC Stories and Successes 2014
The Office of the Vice-President Research and KIAS organized an event to celebrate SSHRC funded researchers and graduate students at the University of Alberta. Award recipients shared research through posters and talks and attendees also heard from SSHRC’s new Vice-President of Future Challenges, Ursula Gobel. The event featured three presentations by SSHRC-funded faculty members on the theme of Emerging Technologies: Competing Needs and Challenges. For further information see http://research.ualberta.ca/SSHRC2014
Two Talks by Dr. Steven Salaita
Professor Steven Salaita is at the centre of international discussion around academic censorship. KIAS supported the Department of English and Film Studies to bring Dr. Salaita to the U of A, where he gave two talks: “Silencing Dissent: Palestine, Digital Activism, Academic Freedom, and the Decline of the Public University” and “Palestine, Indigenous Peoples, and the Public Intellectual”.
Unscrambling Sub(urban) Growth
As a part of the City-Region Studies Centre’s Regional Planning Speakers Series, Unscrambling Sub(urban) Growth was organized at the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of a research project led by Dr. Sandeep Agrawal. The purpose of the research project, sponsored by the Alberta Land Institute and KIAS, is to develop a “state of knowledge” report that identifies criteria by which sustainable urban or suburban growth can be evaluated, clarifies mechanisms to foster sustainable growth, and describes the key research gaps in understanding the benefits and costs of urban form.
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