President’s message from Lisa Starr, November 10, 2015
How to we build community? I work in education, so I should know a thing or two about building community yet when I sat down to write this, I started to question myself. So like any self-respecting 21st century learner…. I asked google. What does it mean to build community? I found 626 million suggestions… none of what was on the first three pages was particularly helpful so I gave up. What I am really trying to get at probably cannot be found on a website because I am thinking about how we create connections within a community of practice? In those connections, how do we support one another, share insights, and create meaning? As part of our CASWE mandate this year, we are working on developing our communication strategies not solely with the intention of getting information to the CASWE membership, but also to… you guessed it…. build community. Academia can be isolating work particularly when individuals with common interests are spread out across Canada and beyond. Yet when we get together each year at the annual conference, there is an energy that emerges as we listen, present, talk, ask questions and reconnect. My hope is that by considering CASWE as a community of practice that exists year round, we can infuse some of that conference energy into our thinking throughout the year. We can connect to one another’s ideas as a way to build community. The new monthly blog series is a way for people to engage with one another from all of the remote corners that we dwell in. I encourage the members of the CASWE community to engage with the ideas posted in the blogs to get the conversations started that may even create a wave of momentum that we can build on at this year’s conference at the University of Calgary, May 28 to June 1, 2016.
President’s message from Lisa Starr, June 1, 2015
As we come to the conclusion of another successful CASWE conference as part of CSSE 2015 at the University of Ottawa, I want to thank the CSSE organizers as well of the incredible volunteers from the University of Ottawa for putting together an exceptional event. Not only did our members have access to rich and thought provoking CASWE sessions, members also had access to a wide variety of interesting presentations from a range of scholars across the CSSE associations and special interest groups (SIGS).Thank you to all of the presenters for sharing your scholarship.
On the preconference day, an important panel, The ACDE Accord on Indigenous Education: What progress have we made? What Challenges Lie Ahead? took place co-sponsored by Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE), Canadian Association for the Study of Indigenous Education & Canadian Critical Pedagogy Association. The conversations that took place as a result of this panel were both important and timely in advance of the historic Truth and Reconciliation Walk that took place on March 31, 2015. I was moved by the words of all the speakers but one sentiment stood out to me…. we are in this together. Each of us as scholars, leaders and Canadians has an important responsibility moving forward. I borrow here from the words of the panel organizers, “teacher educators who believe that current and future teachers have an important responsibility in building the kinds of awareness, knowledge, and sense of responsiveness that our society needs if we’re going to face colonialism and colonization with clear eyes, and if we’re going to build relationships of respect and accountability”. I encourage all of our CASWE members to consider these words and how we as individuals and a community can embody them.
Many of you are far more accomplished feminist scholars than myself. What I offer in leadership sometimes pales in comparison to the academic contributions that our CASWE members engage in every day, many of whom shared that scholarship during CSSE. I believe that a common thread woven throughout the web that connects us all is our belief in the importance of feminism in the academy and wider society. As I shared in one of my presentation sessions, my 15 year-old daughter was recently asked in one of her high school classes, “how many of you consider yourselves feminists?” Only 2 people raised their hand (yes, my daughter was one of them). When asked why the others students did not identify as feminists, many said that they could not be a feminist because they did not hate men. When she told me this story, I was disappointed that such a shallow view of feminism could still be a common belief. Dwelling on my disappointment however does little to change or educate. Instead, I focus on the importance of CASWE advancing issues of feminism, gender and LGBTQ. I am thankful that CASWE as an organization and its members as ambassadors are doing the amazing work that counteracts the antiquated views of feminism that serve no one. As a valued colleague reminded me, feminist scholarship is much more than representation and I rely on our CASWE members to continue to study, share and advance the ideals that CASWE was built upon. And as another equally valued colleague reminded us during the CASWE Institute Women in Leadership Panel, each of us has come to this place we are in because others have created space for us to succeed and thrive. I humbly suggest that as we move forward, we work to create spaces that build community, value each others’ voices and advance equity as a fundamental way of being in the world.
President’s message from Lisa Starr, February 2014
As I sitting the warmth of my office protected from the polar vortex (formerly known as winter), and I cannot believe that it is only a few months until the 2014 Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities at Brock University. The CASWE program is shaping up to provide members with some dynamic and cutting edge sessions that continue to advance to mandate of CASWE.
Our website is now a fresher version of its old self that allows better interaction between our members through its blog and comment features, I encourage you to share the site with your colleagues, post a comment and get involved in the CASWE community. If you have a recent publication, presentation or project that you would like to highlight, please let us know. Email us so we can feature it on the website.
This year’s conference theme, “Borders without Boundaries” invites reflection on the links between the academy and the community, the mediation of boundaries in a virtual world, the development of the new conceptions of rural and urban spaces, and the place and definition of friends, citizens and peoples in our social, academic and politically defined communities.
I am struck with how relevant this theme is to CASWE and QSEC. Issues of gender and gender representation are prime examples of how we are reconsidering citizens and people, perhaps making them less defined but more realistic. We often believe that in our academic institutions our thinking is ahead of the curve. I commend our members for their continued efforts to challenge notions of how we choose to ‘define’ and locate people in a world where some boundaries are being torn down while others are physically and emotionally erected.
I invite you to submit a commentary that can be posted here on the CASWE blog for members to engage with.