Voice of the future largely absent at Congress 2012

With the Congress 2012 conference of Humanities and Social Sciences well underway, it’s apparent that invitations to students got lost in the mail.

Congress is an excellent way for students and academics alike to learn more about the humanities disciplines and question their place in the future. However, how can we, as an academic community, accurately plan innovation for the future when the next generation of thinkers are completely alienated from attending a conference that would only benefit them?

The primary problem is the lack of inclusivity that was made towards students. Besides a basic form of encouragement to participate in the conference, no formal invitations were made to students, even in the simple form of an email. It is not only the fault of Congress for not encouraging student involvement, but Wilfrid Laurier for failing to advertise to their student population.

In fact, the only effort made to assemble students was in the form of paid and volunteer work recruitment. Students were not officially invited to attend the conference but were more than welcome to work as campus ambassadors or in food services.

What is troubling is that the conference features panel discussions and lectures that directly pertain to the interests of students, like: “Getting from here to there: everything you wanted to know about being (and interviewing to be) an academic” and “How to write research grant proposals: strategies for students and supervisors.”

Similarly, the lectures and panel discussions that consider the future like “What will Canada look like in 2030?” are being facilitated and attended by established academics and students already enrolled in graduate programs.

Such lectures could serve as a helpful resource for students interested in pursuing post-graduate education or simply wanting to educate themselves further

While academics in a university atmosphere surely need conferences such as congress to develop their knowledge base and network, students also need the opportunity to be included in such a valuable learning experience.

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