Nathan Skolski

Email: nathanskolski@okmain.cms.ok.ubc.ca


 

Countries around the world, including Canada, are working to contain the current outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

UBCO faculty can speak about why this day is necessary

Professor Alison Conway
English and Cultural Studies, Gender and Women's Studies

Phone: 250 807 9701
Email: alison.conway@ubc.ca

Research Interests: Woman’s literature; literary and cultural history of the long eighteenth century in Britain; narrative studies; and gender and sexuality theory.

Professor Sue Frohlick
Anthropology, Gender and Women's Studies

Phone: 250 807 8525
Email: susan.frohlick@ubc.ca

Research Interests: Mobility, subjectivity, space, gender, and sexuality; transnational intimacies; immigration; tourism and travel; youth and youthhood; community-based research; urban and transnational anthropology; heterosexuality; ethnography.

Associate Professor Suzanne Gott
Art History, Creative Studies, Gender and Women's Studies

Phone: 250 807 9671
Email: suzanne.gott@ubc.ca

Research Interests: Exploring issues of gender, comparative aesthetics, display, and performance; investigating continuities and/or transformations of precolonial art and aesthetics in colonial, postcolonial, and contemporary art and visual culture.

Assistant Professor Heather Latimer
Gender and Women's Studies

Phone: 250 807 8153
Email: heather.latimer@ubc.ca

Research Interests: Reproductive technologies and politics, especially reproductive futurism; biopolitics; sexuality studies; science and technology studies; feminist new materialism and post-humanism; cultural studies; literature and film.

Associate Professor Ilya Parkins
Gender and Women's Studies

Phone: 250 807 9625
Email: ilya.parkns@ubc.ca

Research Interests: Feminist theories, especially epistemologies; history and theory of fashion; theories of modernity and early twentieth-century cultural formations; femininities; periodical media.

Associate Professor Margaret Reeves
English and Cultural Studies; Gender and Women's Studies

Phone: 250 807 9639
Email: margaret.reeves@ubc.ca

Research Interests: Early modern women’s writing; children’s literary cultures (early modern to contemporary); early modern childhood and youth; Milton and early modern political theory; satiric fiction; women’s literature; Medieval and Renaissance studies; 16th- and 17th-century literature; history of the novel; auto/biographical discourse; speculative fiction; feminist and queer theory.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning founded in 2005 in partnership with local Indigenous peoples, the Syilx Okanagan Nation, in whose territory the campus resides. As part of UBC—ranked among the world’s top 20 public universities—the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world in British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Life Raft Debate graphic

Life Raft Debate makes experts defend their fields to a live audience

What: Life Raft Debate
Who: UBC professors debate their expertise during fictional zombie apocalypse
When: Tuesday, January 14, beginning at 7 p.m.,
Where:  Room COM 201, The Commons building, 3297 University Way, UBC Okanagan, Kelowna

For many, the question of who to bring along in order to rebuild human civilization during a zombie apocalypse has gone unanswered for too long. Now, six UBC Okanagan professors, all from different fields of expertise, aim to settle the issue once and for all—or at least until next year—as they prepare for the second annual Life Raft Debate.

For event organizer and chemistry undergraduate student Jesse Lafontaine, the premise of the debate is simple. The audience is the last of humanity to survive a zombie apocalypse and there’s only one seat left in their life raft. Which UBC expert should they pick to join them and why?

“The concept is definitely absurd,” jokes Lafontaine. “But it’s also refreshing and entertaining to hear very accomplished UBC professors explain their expertise and argue how their work would help human civilization recover from such an unlikely disaster.”

Lafontaine adds that the lighthearted nature of the debate is what makes it so compelling while at the same time helps translate complex areas of study into something fun and accessible to everyone.

Stephen McNeil, chemistry professor and Life Raft Debate defending champion, agrees.

“As university professors, we’re used to speaking to students who are already interested in our fields of study,” says McNeil. “Defending the power of chemistry to a room full of people who probably aren’t as passionate as I am about organometallic reaction mechanisms is certainly humbling.”

He adds that offering this unique twist on academic debate is a great way to help people discover how different points of view and areas of expertise each make essential contributions to human society.

“Medicine keeps us healthy. Engineering builds the tools we need to survive. Anthropology understands how other cultures survive and thrive. Art is what makes us human in the first place,” he says. “It’s difficult to defend and advocate for just one.”

Lafontaine is quick to point out that the debate lineup is more than up to the task.

“We have heavy hitters from our campus this year,” says Lafontaine. “They include, among others, the director of the School of Engineering, who is a formidable engineer and researcher; the dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, whose eloquence is unmatched; and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UBCO, who has been in charge of our campus for the last eight years and definitely knows how to win an argument.”

The list of debate participants also includes the role of ‘devil’s advocate’, whose job is to argue that none of the experts deserve a spot on the life raft.

While the topic may be lighthearted, Lafontaine says the debate is classically structured and the participants will make their arguments in earnest, with the audience voting on the winner.

McNeil is returning to defend his title.  The key, he says, is communicating to as broad an audience as possible.

“I’ve been interested in science outreach for a long time,” he says. “But even with that experience, distilling the accomplishments and capabilities of the whole field of chemistry into a five-minute defense is no easy task.”

“My winning argument was that, as a chemist, I know how to take simple molecules and manipulate them into creating something new, like penicillin or steel. But now that we not only need to rebuild civilization but also survive a zombie hoard, I may need to up my game this year.”

The Life Raft Debate takes place on January 14, at 7 p.m. in the Commons lecture theatre at UBC Okanagan. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required at: https://students.ok.ubc.ca/life-raft-debate/

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca

Associate Professor of History Brigitte Le Normand is the academic director of UBCO's public humanities hub.

Researchers bring reasoning into scientific, often polarizing, issues

In an era when divisions in society seem more prevalent than ever, two UBC humanities professors are using the power of arts, history and philosophy to build bridges and address the world’s most pressing issues.

UBC is putting a spotlight on the human side of research through the creation of a public humanities hub on both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. Associate Professor Brigitte Le Normand, director of the Okanagan hub, says this initiative is designed to bring the university’s brightest thinkers from the humanities together to explore emerging public policy questions.

“We’re faced with a number of critical problems and we have a tendency to turn to scientists and engineers for the answer,” says Le Normand. “Technology certainly has a lot to contribute, but humanists can step in by asking how can we even frame the problems in the first place and how does that shape the solutions we develop.”

Le Normand, a history professor, says research from the Public Humanities Hub will be interdisciplinary, bridging connections in faculties across both campuses. While it supports UBC’s research culture it will also publicize and organize humanities research and amplify the work of humanists on the Okanagan campus.

Adding critical thinking and reasonable voices to those solutions is part of the humanities mandate, says Greg Garrard, a professor of environmental humanities at UBCO. There is a need for different voices when it comes to research and problem solving, he says. Sometimes adding a humanist voice to the conversation can help change hearts and minds on issues that can polarize society.

“We might turn to technology to solve our issues but it may be that technological solutions are not the best for addressing the problem,” says Garrard. “Perhaps the problem is bigger than that and you need to find an opening for other kinds of conversation. This is a great example of where humanists can step in and change the terms of the discussion.”

While there are specific pillars of interest the hub will focus on—medical ethics, the environment, digital humanities and public history—both Garrard and Le Normand cite several examples of everyday situations where humanities can play a significant role in scientific conversations and resolutions including medically assisted death, justice by social media and climate change.

“One of the biggest challenges of our day is the climate emergency,” she says. “It’s polarizing and that very polarization prevents us from addressing problems. If you can step around that inherent conflict, you can change the very terms of the conversation. Suddenly the doors open for a productive conversation that didn’t previously exist.”

Over the next year, the Okanagan public humanities hub will host a speaker series, inviting the public to learn from experts about a number of topics. There are also plans for a conference in July where the researchers will highlight some of the work taking place at UBC. More information about the hub can be found at: public-humanities.cms.ok.ubc.ca

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world.

To find out more, visit: ok.ubc.ca