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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

  • Canada-India centre being launched today
  • Energy, the fuel of society's complexity
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Spectators gathered round the dancers]

These ladies wanna dance, and line dancing lessons were among the attractions at the annual Keystone Campaign picnic yesterday. The event was held indoors at the Student Life Centre because of the morning's threatening weather, but that's no reason not to wear the authentic western headgear, not when the day's theme is "Wild Wild Waterloo". Photo by Michael L. Davenport.

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Canada-India centre being launched today

A new organization called the Chanchlani India Policy Centre — headed by a St. Jerome’s University professor and jointly sponsored by the Canada India Foundation, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the University of Waterloo — will be launched at a ceremony and reception at the Boulevard Club in Toronto this afternoon.

The Chanchlani Centre had its genesis when Indo-Canadian philanthropist Vasu Chanchlani announced that he would contribute to an endowment “to acquire the necessary intellectual rigour for public policy development in the Canada-India corridor”. He said: “While there have been several academic and other initiatives to understand and enhance various aspects of Canada-India relations, a public policy research and development focused initiative had been an unfulfilled requirement.”

A news release adds that the Canada India Foundation and the donor quickly identified Waterloo as the most suitable partner for this initiative. In September they signed an agreement to establish the centre in Waterloo’s Faculty of Arts. As part of the agreement, Chanchlani committed to a contribution of $1 million and Canada India Foundation committed an additional $ 1 million, towards a target endowment of $10 million.

“Keeping the endowment target in mind,” says the release, “Ken Coates, Dean, Faculty of Arts, found another reputable partner in Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, a non-profit think tank created to strengthen Canada’s relations with Asia, which committed to match the contributions by Vasu Chanchlani and Canada India Foundation.” Says Yuen Pau Woo, president of the Asia Pacific Foundation: "India, as one of the major economic powers of the 21st century, has to be one of the cornerstones of Canada’s Asia policy, and we are very happy to be part of an initiative that will enable Canada to develop and implement a comprehensive policy vis-a-vis India.”

The centre will fund India Chairs at Waterloo, visiting chairs for India scholars, research fellowships, public lectures and conferences. "The Centre lays the groundwork for a new era for Canada-India initiatives with active participation of the civil society through Canada India Foundation and Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada," says Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur, "Waterloo is truly honoured to be part of the comprehensive effort to improve Canada's connections to India."

Director of the centre is Ryan Touhey, history professor at St. Jerome’s. “This is the only centre of its type in Canada,” he said this week, “and I'm really proud that Waterloo will be a leader in helping to shape Canada-India relations in the years ahead.”

The official launch is scheduled for 5:30 at Toronto’s Boulevard Club, with S.M. Gavai, India’s high commissioner (ambassador) to Canada, as the keynote speaker. It will be preceded by a working session, “Mapping a Canada-India Research Agenda”, with the participation of nearly 40 experts on India from across Canada, drawn from academia, government and private sector, including prominent Indo-Canadians, to establish priority areas for the Centre to address.

“We hope that the subsequent and ongoing policy work done at the Centre will provide valuable input to both Canadian and Indian governments to bind the two nations together, not only on trade matters, but also on a variety of areas of mutual interest,” said Aditya Jha, national convener of the Canada India Foundation.

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Energy, the fuel of society's complexity

by Karen Kawawada, Communications and Public Affairs

We normally think about energy as fuel. We use energy to fuel our cars, our homes, and our bodies — “heating things up and making things move,” says Thomas Homer-Dixon, one of Waterloo’s best-known professors, the award-winning author of The Upside of Down and The Ingenuity Gap.

[Homer-Dixon; camera in background]Homer-Dixon wants us to think about energy in another way — as “an enabler of complexity.” The Faculty of Environment professor, who is also affiliated with the Balsillie School of International Affairs, raised that idea in a public talk yesterday at the Equinox Summit, an international energy conference going on this week in Waterloo (right, photo by Elizabeth Goheen).

Homer-Dixon defines a complex system as one with many interconnected components that work together in unexpected ways. A 1970s car was a simple system because a mechanic can look at the parts and understand how they all fit together. Today’s electrical grid is a complex system, because nobody could have predicted that one tree branch falling across a high-voltage power line in Ohio would set off a chain of events resulting in 30 million people losing power.

“Energy allows us to have complex institutions and complex technologies,” says Homer-Dixon. “The availability of large amounts of cheap energy during the last century, or century and a half, has fundamentally shaped the human prospect.”

Oil has not only been cheap and readily available, it’s incredibly energy-dense, he said. “Every time you fill up the gas tank of the standard North American car, you’re putting the equivalent of two years of manual labour into that gas tank.”

Trouble is, we’re running out of oil. In the 1930s, Texas oilmen got 100 barrels of oil for every barrel of oil they had to expend to drill, run rigs, etc., making for an energy return on investment of 100 to 1. Today, it’s is about 17 to 1.

But that ratio is still better than that of today’s renewables. Nuclear energy has an energy return on investment of between 10 and 20 to 1. Solar energy’s ratio is less than 10 to 1.

“When you fall below 10 to 1, there’s some speculation that you actually can’t maintain a complex civilization at that point because you don’t have sufficient energy excess after you’ve actually produced the energy to sustain the complexity of a large society,” said Homer-Dixon.

But all is not lost. By putting together many solutions, such as conserving more energy, using more renewables, and implementing carbon capture and storage, “we can cope with carbon,” he said.

However, we aren’t going to get to where we need to be through small, incremental changes, he argued. We’re more likely to get there by reacting to shocks — perhaps war in the Middle East, perhaps global food crises — events of sufficient magnitude to convince global elites to act. These shocks will unleash “a tidal wave of creative destruction” that will sweep across the economy. There will be pain as old industries are swept aside, but “extraordinary opportunities for entrepreneurship, and for investment, and for profit,” Homer-Dixon said.

There’s more about Homer-Dixon’s talk, on a special Equinox Summit web page.


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Notes for today

The registrar's office says the final exam schedule for spring term courses is now available online. • The staff association has posted information about its three student awards, each worth $500, to be offered this term. • Waterloo Fire Rescue says damage is estimated at $30,000 in a fire Monday afternoon in the Engineering 6 building, still under construction, which was started by welding equipment on the fourth floor. • [Pallas]A funeral service will be held Thursday for Violet Pallas (right), who worked as a cook in Ron Eydt Village in its early years as Village 2 (2:30, Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King Street South).

Link of the day

World Oceans Day

When and where

Retirees Association bus tour of Grand River villages north, lunch at Flesherton, today, information 519-744-3246.

Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology seminar: Evelyn N. Wang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Nanoengineered Surfaces for Efficient Energy Systems” 11:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Boosting Your Metabolism Naturally session sponsored by UW Recreation Committee , 12:00, Needles Hall room 1116.

Farm market volunteer meeting 1:30, Environment I courtyard; markets begin June 23.

Career workshop: Career Interest Assessment, 2:30 p.m., Tatham Centre room 1112. Details.

CEIT building soft water shut down Thursday 8 a.m. to noon.

International barbecue for charity, Thursday 11:30 to 1:30 at TechTown, 340 Hagey Boulevard, $7 per person.

Design at Riverside gallery, Architecture building, Cambridge, opening of “Installations by Architects” Thursday 6:30 p.m.; lecture and book signing Thursday, July 14, 6:30; exhibition continues through August 6.

Conrad Grebel University College fundraising banquet for Ralph and Eileen Lebold Endowment for Leadership Training, speaker Rebecca Slough, Associated Mennonite Bible Seminary, Thursday 6:30, Grebel dining room, tickets $50, ext. 24237.

Vic Neglia, Arts Computing, retirement party recognizing 39 years at Waterloo, Friday 3 to 5 p.m., Laurel Room, South Campus Hall, information ext. 35206.

Keystone Campaign annual event for evening staff, Friday 6 p.m., Environment 1 room 250.

Bike ride on the Kissing Bridge and Trans-Canada Trail, sponsored by UW Recreation Committee , Sunday 2:00, information schatten@

World’s Largest Swimming Lesson local site at Physical Activities Complex pool, Tuesday 11 a.m., reception follows; register at ext. 35869.

Board of governors meeting Tuesday 2:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department, viewable through myHRinfo:

• Planning coordinator, school of accounting and finance, USG 8
• Cook (regular ongoing), food services
• Assistant baker (regular ongoing), food services
• General cafeteria helper (regular ongoing), food services, 4 positions
• Food service assistant (regular recurring), food services, 5 positions
• General cafeteria helper (regular recurring), food services, 3 positions
• Gift processing assistant, development and alumni affairs, USG 5
• Kitchen porter, food services, 2 positions
• Research training and compliance officer, office of research, USG 8
• Development officer, dean of mathematics office, USG 9
• Web designer/ administrator, mapping, analysis and design, USG 8-9
• Senior development officer, dean of mathematics office, USG 11
• Administrative assistant, secretariat, USG 5-6
• Online learning consultant, Centre for Extended Learning, USG 10
• Research financial analyst, office of research, USG 7 (2 positions)
• Facilities technologist, plant operations, USG 7 (2 positions)
• Assistant manager, cleaning services, housing and residences, USG 7
• Administrative assistant, student success office, USG 6
• Student success officer, dean of science office, USG 9
• Administrative secretary, geography, USG 5
• Project manager, integrated and interactive media, marketing and undergraduate recruitment, USG 9, 14-month secondment or contract
• Scheduling specialist, office of the registrar, USG 6, 2-year secondment or contract
• Records and systems analyst, registrar, USG 8-9, 2-year secondment or contract
• Manager, student recruitment, faculty of arts, USG 9, 14-month secondment or contract

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