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37 key public figures to lead Concordia’s Workshops on Social Science Research

The 2015 edition includes John Gomery, Mary Dawson, Stéphane Dion, Jeffrey Oliphant and other noted speakers
April 15, 2015
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By Tracey Lindeman

"These workshops allow students to interact with important public figures they would otherwise never have access to at this stage in their academic careers," says researcher Mebs Kanji. "These workshops allow students to interact with important public figures they would otherwise never have access to at this stage in their academic careers," says researcher and organizer Mebs Kanji.

Since September 2014, Mebs Kanji with the help of research assistant and PhD candidate Kerry Tannahill have been planning this year’s edition of the Workshops on Social Science Research (WSSR).

The workshop series at Concordia began seven years ago with a single offering. This year — from May 4 to June 29 — 37 savants from political, judicial and social science backgrounds will visit Concordia University to deliver workshops on matters of governance and public policy.

Before the first edition of WSSR, Kanji says, Concordia lacked a suitable number of research methodology courses, particularly when compared to other Canadian universities. So he came up with the idea for the workshop series as a supplement to students’ experience at Concordia.

“It was about trying to fill a hole,” says Kanji, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Political Science.

Now it’s become something much more than mere hole-filling. WSSR has allowed the university to become a magnet for experts in social science and related disciplines.

“This is a neat little way of bringing in experts in quantitative and qualitative research techniques,” Kanji says.

He and Tannahill have been plotting the course for the 2015 edition of WSSR since September. The impressive roster of speakers and workshop leaders is a testament to the adage that hard work pays off.

Honesty in governance

This year’s WSSR topics come at an important time in Canadian political history. “It’s in a climate with a lot of corruption and accountability issues that are very real,” Kanji says.

Stéphane Dion, a main player in getting Canada signed onto the Kyoto Protocol, will speak about the environment and democratic governance, while John Gomery — the judge who oversaw the inquiry into the Jean Chrétien-era sponsorship scandal — will lead the “Improving Accountability in Canadian Politics” workshop.

The question of how to govern Canada ethically will be tackled by Canadian Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson and Jeffrey Oliphant, the leader of the commission that investigated the alleged financial dealings between Brian Mulroney and Karlheinz Schreiber,  will speak with students about inquiries into alleged government corruption.

Policy and research workshops

The series will also host several workshops revolving around the looming federal election and the Canadian democratic process.

Kanji says students and members of the community who sign up for these workshops will get a chance to really roll up their sleeves and get down to the nitty-gritty.

“It’s not a 30-minute talk,” Kanji says. These are one-, two-, and three-day workshops that will allow students to interact with important public figures they would otherwise never have access to at this stage in their academic careers, and students can even receive credit for their participation.

“These people are the yolk, and these students aren’t even in the frying pan yet,” he says.


Find out more about the 2015 Workshops in Social Science Research, May 4-June 29.

 



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