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Friday, March 26, 2004

  • Grad event takes interdisciplinary view
  • Jewish award for Muslim student
  • Engineering student is mourned
  • About hate; about refugee life
Chris Redmond

Diana Ross is 60

[Smiling faces, cake]

Not every day brings the chair's 50th birthday, so the electrical and computer engineering department took the opportunity to celebrate yesterday afternoon. That's the guest of honour, Tony Vannelli, just below the balloons.

Grad event takes interdisciplinary view

A panel discussion on interdisciplinary communication will be among the highlights of Sharing Discovery, UW's annual graduate student research conference, which runs Tuesday through Friday next week.

The panel discussion, "Interdisciplinary Communication: Learning a New Language", will take place April 2 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Four UW faculty members -- Howard Green of kinesiology, Fakri Karray of systems design engineering, Jean Andrey of geography, and Randy Harris of English -- will lead the discussion and address the challenges of publishing interdisciplinary work. The moderator will be Bruce Mitchell, associate provost (academic and student affairs).

The fourth annual conference, one of the largest of its kind in Canada, showcases research from more than 190 master's and PhD students across all six UW faculties. Students' oral and poster presentations will take place Tuesday to Thursday in the Davis Centre, and are open to all.

Keynote addresses will be given by UW Excellence in Research Award recipient Paul Thagard on "What Is a Medical Theory?" (Tuesday at 1 p.m.) and research scientist Dominic Goodwill of Nortel Networks on "The Role of Technology in Transforming Communication Networks" (Wednesday at 1 p.m. )

On Thursday at 1 p.m., the Ontario Centres of Excellence will give a panel presentation on "OCE Inc: From Innovative Research to the Marketplace." The panel will highlight work being conducted by the Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology, Communications and Information Technology Ontario, Materials and Manufacturing Ontario, and Photonics Research Ontario -- all centres in which UW researchers are deeply involved.

An awards banquet will wrap up the conference with presentations on Friday night in the Festival Room, South Campus Hall.

Details of all the conference presentations are now available on the graduate studies office web site.

  • Survey finds grad students want a dental plan
  • Women's fastpitch team doesn't have Warrior status (Imprint)
  • Early retirement program at U of Guelph
  • Clueless in Academe: interview with the author
  • 'Wise up on education spending,' says economist
  • UBC researcher designs the noise out of classrooms
  • Anglophones in Québec's French universities (Univ Affairs)
  • New president for U de Québec
  • Improving access to post-secondary education in New Brunswick
  • Learning bond and other help for low-income families (Roseman, Star)
  • Alberta budget increases university funding
  • [Ibrahim]

    Jewish award for Muslim student -- by Barbara Elve, condensed from this week's Gazette

    The top academic award in the Jewish studies program has been awarded to a fourth-year philosophy student who happens to be Muslim.

    Bilal Ibrahim (left) has been named the recipient of the Hadassah-WIZO Scholarship in Jewish Studies in Honour of Professor Paul Socken. The one-time award for academic excellence was established three years ago by Hadassah-WIZO -- a Jewish charitable organization known for its support of educational projects -- to recognize the work of Socken, a UW French professor, in establishing the Jewish studies program at Waterloo.

    The award was presented to Ibrahim, along with a cheque for $500, for his achievements in the Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism course taught by Jewish studies professor Jim Diamond.

    "Bilal achieved the highest grade in any Jewish studies course during my three and a half years at Waterloo," says Diamond. "He wrote an interesting paper focusing on Maimonides (a twelfth-century Jewish scholar) and always asked penetrating questions during class. The award is based on academic performance alone and is, of course, blind to any ethnic or religious distinctions.

    "However, it's a hopeful sign that a Muslim student has been granted this award in Jewish studies in an age which is so rife with religious polarization," he adds, pointing to the latest spate of swastikas sprayed on homes in a Jewish neighborhood in Toronto, Mel Gibson's 'Passion' "stirring up old libels against Jews," Middle East tensions, and France's banning of religious symbols in schools.

    Ibrahim, whose home is in Toronto, admits he was "very surprised" at being selected for the honour. "I don't have much background in the Bible," he explains, "but I do have some knowledge of medieval philosophy."

    Although some of his Muslim friends were surprised that he would sign up for a Jewish studies course, Ibrahim's father, who was educated in India, taught his son to "learn from everything and everyone. He encouraged me to understand what other people's perspectives are, where they're coming from."

    Ibrahim, who speaks English, French and Malayalam, spent three years traveling after high school, exploring his roots and learning Arabic. He spent time in India, Malaysia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt before returning to Canada and enroling in computer science at UW. After taking two electives in philosophy, he switched programs. He found Jewish studies appealing because of his interest in Jewish mysticism and medieval philosophers.

    The experience, says Ibrahim, changed his perspective "more than I expected. . . . The approach Jews take to the Bible is similar to that which Muslims take to the Koran -- but Judaism allows for more variety of opinion in interpretation of the text. Muslims are not always as open to academic inquiry as other faiths are.

    "Jim is a very talented teacher," he adds, "I have respect for his scholarship and his ability to convey ideas to students from different backgrounds. I was impressed with the readings -- from a wide range of sources -- and the introduction to different methodologies in philosophy/religious studies in term of analysing primary sources."

    "This award to Bilal is, for me, reminiscent of what once was (now long disappeared) a vital cross-pollination between religions and cultures," Diamond says. "I am a strong believer that the openness, liberalism and critical thinking of the academy is the most conducive forum for building bridges."


    Engineering student is mourned

    Vincent Fazari (right), whose fight with cancer inspired an epidemic of head-shaving in UW's engineering faculty two years ago, died yesterday at Henderson Hospital in Hamilton.

    He was 25, and had been a systems design engineering student. In July 2002, as he lost his hair thanks to chemotherapy treatments, dozens of classmates and friends got their heads shaved as a Canadian Cancer Society fund-raiser. One of his professors, Carolyn MacGregor of SDE, followed suit.

    An obituary notice mentions Fazari's many activities, from the Shad Valley program to music and sports. He is survived by his parents, Joseph and Sharon Fazari of Ancaster, and a brother, Patrick.

    Visitation is this weekend at the Dodsworth & Brown funeral home in Ancaster, near Hamilton. The funeral will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in Ancaster.

    Climate change expo winds up today, Student Life Centre.

    Two for Blue Day fund-raiser for juvenile arthritis research: wear blue and contribute $2 to the cause. Today; details from Michelle Banic, ext. 3533.

    Geological engineering fourth-year design presentations, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1304.

    'Optimal Greenhouse Gas Policies for Canada", Mark Jaccard, Simon Fraser University, speaking at Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West, 11:45.

    'Human Disease and Residential Proximity to Hazardous Waste Sites", David Carpenter, University at Albany, for Great Lakes Research Consortium, 2:30, Biology II room 350.

    Critical Mass annual mass bicycle ride. Meet 5 p.m. at University Avenue and Seagram Drive for ride to Kitchener city hall. Information from WPIRG, 888-4882, and online.

    'Using Isotopes to Show There Could Be Life on Mars", Tricia Stadnyk, civil engineering, for Waterloo Space Society, 6 p.m., Physics room 145. End-of-term party follows.

    Athletics Awards reception and dance, tonight at Federation Hall, annual Warrior awards to be presented, tickets $20 at department of athletics.

    Capture the Flag, 7 p.m., details online.

    'Mimetic Flesh', drama department "site-specific" production, tonight and Saturday 7 and 9 p.m., Lang building, 184 Joseph Street, Kitchener, tickets 888-4908.

    EOT pub marks end of term for engineers, tonight, POETS pub.

    Engineering play, "Romeo, You Idiot", today 7 p.m., Saturday 2 and 8 p.m., Environmental Studies II room 286.

    Dance Odyssey all weekend, rental in Humanities Theatre.

    Russel Legge, St. Paul's United College, memorial service, Sunday 4 p.m., Wesley Chapel, St. Paul's, sponsored by the college and First United Church "as a celebration of Russel's life and contribution". Reception follows.

    Jocus toy sale, Monday and Tuesday, 9:00 to 2:00, early childhood education centre, PAS building.

    About hate; about refugee life

    "Hate" is a fine-china word, according to Christopher Burris, professor of psychology at St. Jerome's University, quoted in a St. Jerome's news release. Because the word packs such a visceral punch, eliciting responses of revulsion, terror, and outrage, he says, "we save it for those dreaded special occasions of humanity's most objectionable and destructive acts, such as genocide."

    But what exactly is hate -- an emotion, an act, or something else entirely? The answer, Burris says, has profound implications, "for, without a proper definition, we may even mistake hate for love, as is evident in some obsessive relationships." Burris will offer a psychological definition of hate, as well as suggesting some ways of recognizing and responding to it.

    Burris's talk, entitled "How Do I Hate Thee?", is the annual Joint Waterloo Region Catholic District Board/St. Jerome's University Lecture. It starts at 7:30 tonight in Siegfried Hall, St. Jerome's, free of charge. All are welcome.

    A faculty member at St. Jerome's since 1997, Burris is also a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. He has published widely in academic journals on questions of religious motivation and self-identity.

    The Joint Waterloo Region Catholic District Board/St. Jerome's University Lectures are part of the 2003-2004 season of the St. Jerome's Centre for Catholic Experience.

    Volunteers will spend a few hours living like refugees tomorrow, in an event sponsored by Waterloo Christian Fellowship, under the title "In Exile -- For a While".

    Shelley Barnes, president of WCF, explains: "It is a refugee simulation event organized by the Mennonite Central Committee. The premise is to show people a glimpse into the life of a refugee, by going through situations that refugees would often encounter. Participants have the opportunity to live like a refugee for a few hours, experiencing hunger, fatigue, rebel raids, and difficult border crossings. I understand that this is not an ideal way to spend your Saturday morning, but we really feel that this is something that would be beneficial and enlightening to many people. North Americans are often blind to some of the tragedy that happens around the world, and this event is one way to open our eyes to it.

    "The event will begin at 7 a.m. in the great hall of the Student Life Centre. From there we will be bussed to Hidden Acres Camp for the majority of the simulation. We plan to return to UW campus by noon." WCF will have an information table in the Student Life Centre today, and more details are on the web.


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