Skip to the content of the web site.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

  • Final Big Thinking lectures at Congress today
  • Digital games the subject of research grant
  • Geography department celebrates 50 years
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

The guest of honour speaks: Adel Sedra, who has served as dean of the Faculty of Engineering since 2003, takes the stage during his farewell celebration at the Waterloo Inn yesterday. There will be a retirement reception in Engineering 5's Student Design Cente at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 21, with cupcakes and refreshments served.

Photograph by Neil Trotter, Studio 66.

Back to top

Final Big Thinking lectures at Congress today

Congress continues with the final two Big Thinking Lectures, delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winner Chris Hedges, who spoke on "The Death of the Liberal Class" at 7:45 a.m. this morning, and Thomas Homer-Dixon, holder of the CIGI Chair of Global Systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and Director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation and Professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise, and Development in the Faculty of Environment, who will be speaking on complexity theory and the social sciences at 12:15 p.m. Both lectures take place at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Other events on campus today include the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research's "Campus-community research collaboration: New approaches for the 21st century," featuring Michael Hall, Budd Hall, and Chad Gaffield at 12:15 p.m. in the Arts Lecture Hall and the reception for the "Uncertain World" exhibition at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery (UWAG) at 5:00 p.m. tonight.

Here's today's "Skid @ Congress" update:

Thursday, May 31

"At times one wonders: will Congress never end? But then you realize how much great programming is still going on, and you realize that you don’t want it to.

Take today for example: only three days left for Congress, but today is packed with events I just have to be sure to attend. It all starts with Pulitzer-prize winning author Chris Hedges giving a Big Thinking lecture entitled “Death of the Liberal Class.” He thinks that the liberal elites have sold out to corporate elites. It could be a provocative hour. (7:45 a.m., Senate and Board Room, Laurier)

The Canadian Film Studies Association is meeting right now at Congress, so after the Hedges talk I’ll head over to that association to see the panel on film sound. Why film sound? Because it’s something I know almost nothing about. Maybe I’ll actually learn a thing or two!

I’m certain I will learn a great deal at the last Big Thinking Lecture of Congress. Tad Homer Dixon of uWaterloo fame will be speaking on complexity theory and the social sciences. The description of his talk says that his main point will be that “humankind's most critical problems arise from emergent complex social and natural systems marked by deep uncertainty, positive and negative feedbacks and frequent instability.” (12:15 p.m., Maureen Forrester Recital Hall, Laurier)

I’m pretty simple-minded, so complexity doesn’t come that easily to me; I will probably have to sit down after Tad’s talk and think it through. I’ll do that at Waterloo’s beer tent (also known in some circles as the uWaterloo Twitter enclosure) during its LAST day of operation. It will be sad to see the tent go . . . . .

I have two big events in the evening. First at 5:00 p.m. I want to go to the reception of the “Uncertain World” exhibition at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery (UWAG). Ivan Jurakic, director of UWAG, has put together a striking show. After that the Laurier and Waterloo Central Congress Command team will go for supper with the some of the CFHSS employees. It will be a chance for us to compare notes, thank each other for all their hard work, and argue over who should pay the bill (“You pay!” “No, you pay!”). (Actually the CFHSS is inviting us out. They’re good and generous folks!"

Back to top

Digital games the subject of research grant

a news release from the media relations office

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) has awarded a University of Waterloo researcher a grant of more than $2.5 million for his work into the effects of digital games.

Professor Neil Randall from the Department of English Language and Literature and the Games Institute is receiving a SSHRC Partnership Grant worth $2,549,960 over seven years for his project examining the intricately related fields of player experience, including immersion, presence, addiction and social interactions in games. Called IMMERSe: the Interactive & Multi-Modal Experience Research Syndicate, this network will explore player experience, both positive and problematic. The project involves industry partners, as well as academics from the humanities, social sciences, engineering, and computer sciences in a project that promotes collaboration across several disciplines.

“The social sciences and humanities impact many facets of our everyday lives,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president & vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “Waterloo appreciates SSHRC’s commitment to groundbreaking research, enabling solutions to the challenges that affect all of us.”

Research teams from seven partnering institutions in Canada and the U.S. will assist with the research by conducting studies on social media games, virtual worlds and gambling games, among others.

“Designers seek to create highly immersive products and technologies, complete with capabilities for players to lose themselves in the content and re-engage it frequently and in depth,” said Randall. “Growing concerns about players focusing on these systems to the exclusion of other social physical and mental activities have become a focus among scholars, teachers, and parents.”

Additional cash and in-kind contributions of more than $3 million raise the total amount to $5.8 million. These contributions come from five academic partners: McMaster University, Carleton University, Concordia University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, University of California Davis. There are six industry partners as well, namely Microsoft Studios, Electronic Arts, Digital Extremes, PineLake Communications, The Ant Firm, and Communitech.

The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, made the announcement at the opening event for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences conference. Five Waterloo researchers also received a combined $954,344 in funding from SSHRC Partnership Development Grants.

Philip Beesley from the School of Architecture was awarded $199,720 for research into near-living experimental architectural constructions featuring interactive physical movement, artificial intelligence, and chemical exchanges with the environment. Kathleen Bloom from the Department of Psychology is receiving $176,432 to support her work in the area of knowledge mobilization, part of the decison-making process. John Lewis from the School of Planning was awarded $183,624 for his project that will address multiple sustainability objectives and explore sustainable urban growth strategies for the city of Waterloo. Jennifer Simpson of the Department of Drama and Speech Communication receives $198,480 to help fund her research into colonialism and race-related challenges in Canada. And Frances Westley was awarded $196,088 for research that will initiate and foster a long-term collaborative partnership between Waterloo, Queen’s University and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).

SSHRC is the federal agency that supports and promotes post-secondary research and training in the humanities and social sciences.

Back to top

Geography department celebrates 50 years

a news release from the media relations office

The University of Waterloo’s Department of Geography and Environmental Management is turning 50, and it is kicking off celebrations with a reunion today, timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers, taking place at Congress 2012 of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

All alumni, students and faculty, former and current, are invited to the reception, being held from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. There will be tours of Environment 3 at 5:30 p.m., and the reception starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Festival Room in South Campus Hall.

The Department of Geography, as it was once known, began as part of the Faculty of Arts in 1962, when professors Ralph Krueger, Aubrey Diem, and Roy Officer moved to the University of Waterloo from Waterloo College, now Wilfrid Laurier University. The first five graduates, all transfer students, received their diplomas in 1963. The department is now part of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment.

Geography, the School of Planning, the Department of Man-Environment Studies (now the Department of Environment and Resource Studies), and the School of Architecture (now part of the Faculty of Engineering) amalgamated in 1969 to form what is now called the Faculty of Environment. It was the first undergraduate faculty of environment in Canada.

Geography was renamed the Department of Geography and Environmental Management in 2008. Today, it has many award-winning faculty, including Bruce Mitchell, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; Ellsworth LeDrew, a Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute; Jean Andrey, who has won four prestigious teaching awards; Daniel Scott, who is Canada Research Chair in Global Change and Tourism; and Jonathan Price, who is leading a $6.7-million project to turn post-mined oil sands land back into peatland, a task never accomplished before.

Geography combines natural and social sciences, and often information technology, to understand the world. In addition to geography and environmental management, students can study geomatics or aviation. The co-op option offers the most work experience of any geography program in Canada. There are 700 undergraduate and 150 graduate students, making it the largest department in the faculty. As of June 2012, there will be some 5,700 alumni.

Back to top

Congress 2012 Daily Update Videos

uWaterloo's Congress organizers have put together daily update videos:

Video Update - Day One

Video Update - Day Two

Video Update - Day Three

Video Update - Day Four

Video Update - Day Five

Video Update - Day Six

Link of the day

World No Tobacco Day

When and where

Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences hosted by Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, May 26 through June 2. Details.

Congress 2012 Big Thinking Lectures, May 26 - May 31. Details.

The University of Waterloo Art Gallery presents An Uncertain World, Saturday, May 26 to Saturday, June 2, open daily 12:00–5:00 p.m., East Campus Hall. Held in conjunction with Congress 2012.

Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) Conference, Monday, May 28 to Thursday, May 31, Renison University College. Details. Held in conjunction with Congress 2012.

VeloCity Garage Open House, Thursday, May 31, 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., The Tannery, 151 Charles Street, Kitchener. Light refreshments will be served.

Centre for Career Action presents a Social Media Presentation featuring Lisa Kramer, Thursday, May 31, 5:00 p.m., TC 2218.

Geographers Without Borders: geography department's 50th anniversary, Thursday, May 31, 5:30 p.m. Details.

UWRC event, "Italy: A Journey to Italy with a sneak a peek into Medieval Times," Monday, June 4, 12 noon, NH 1116. Presented by Elena Cecchetto, University of Waterloo.

Senate Executive Committee meeting, Monday June 4, 3:30 p.m., NH 3004.

Board of governors Tuesday, June 5, 2:30 p.m., Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA).

Transit of Venus viewing event, Tuesday, June 5, 5:00 p.m., BMH green. RSVP online or by emailing scienceevents@ Special transit viewing eyewear required (limited supply).

"Observing the Transits of Venus: Why and How Astronomers Risked Their Lives", Professor Gretchen Harris, Department of Physics & Astronomy, MC 2066, 5:00-5:45 p.m.

Keystone Picnic "Waterloo World," Wednesday, June 6, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the Burt Matthews Hall green, lunch served at 11:45 to 1:00 p.m.

Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) lecture series featuring Dr. S. Murthy Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India, Wednesday, June 6, 5:00 p.m., CPH 4333. Refreshments served.

Master of Digital Experience Innovation brown bag lunch, Wednesday, June 6, 1:30 p.m., Communitech Hub Kitchener, P2P Meeting Room. Register today.

Chemical Engineering seminar featuring Laura A. Palomares, Insituto de Biotecnologia, Unversidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), “Viral Structural Proteins: From Vaccines to Nanotechnology,” Thursday, June 7, 3:30 p.m., E6-4022.

Keystone picnic event for evening staff, Friday, June 8, 6:00 p.m., Bombshelter Pub, Student Life Centre.

22nd Annual Matthews Golf Classic, Monday, June 11, 2012, Grand Valley Golf Course, Cambridge
Volunteers needed for this sold out event. Contact Sheila Hurley at Ext. 33587 for further information.

Science awards luncheon, Tuesday, June 12, 12:00 p.m., University Club.

Master of Digital Experience Innovation student showcase, Tuesday, June 12, 5:00 p.m., Waterloo Stratford Campus. Register today.

University senate Monday, June 18, 3:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Canada Day holiday observed Monday, July 2, classes cancelled, university offices and most services closed.

VeloCity Garage open house today

VeloCity is holding its first official open house today in the Garage space located at the Tannery in downtown Kitchener from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The event is an opportunity for start-up teams, investors, and the campus community to network and gain insight about ideas pertaining to entrepreneurship. Teams will demonstrate their ideas, share insight about their ambitious road maps, as well as their current challenges.

The VeloCity Garage program is designed to help teams kick-start their business ideas by providing office space, mentorship, and a community that cultivates entrepreneurship.

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin