Dr. Margaret Y. MacDonald, Dean of Arts
On February 6, 2015, The Faculty of Arts Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Culture (CISC), hosted Empowerment: A Student Conference. Despite very harsh winter conditions, the conference was well attended, with excellent papers presented by students and responses from professors.
Participants were asked to think about the following questions: “How do class, race and gender complicate life on campus and in the wider world? How are our everyday experiences shaped by power relationships? What is the relationship between power and knowledge?” Presenters represented a range of disciplines, including Philosophy, History, International Development Studies, and Women and Gender Studies, among others. Papers discussed the contemporary world, but also earlier periods of history. Empowerment was something to be explored at both the local level and from a global perspective. From theoretical discussions of who defines “empowerment,” to fascinating examples from earlier historical eras where power was expressed in surprising ways, to consideration of how gender and power intersect in everything from legal discourse to subcultures around the world – this was truly an inspiring, provocative day of discovery.
The quality of the papers far exceeded the expectations of the conference organizers and we wished to make such fine work available for others to enjoy. There is clearly a great appetite among students at Saint Mary’s for this type of conversation. We hope that the CISC Student Conference 2015 will be the first of many where students find a venue to share their research findings and be enriched by the feedback they receive from their professors and peers. Through CISC, the Faculty of Arts is committed to creating interactive spaces like that experienced during Empowerment: A Student Conference, where insights from different disciplines can be brought to bear on specific cultural questions, challenges, and problems.
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