Welcome to the website of Mediating Science and Technology, one of the signature areas of the Faculty of Arts, University of Alberta!

On this site you find information about this Faculty of Arts Signature Area, announcements, descriptions of coming events, directories of researchers working in the six thematic areas, and contact information for the Directors and Advisory Board. (Some sections are still under construction.) 

Performance Monday March 16, 2020 at 2:30-4:00pm at the Arts Based Research Studio (4-104 Education North), University of Alberta

An illuminating work of documentary theater, the Tar Sands Songbook asks audiences to reconsider their personal relationships to oil. Tanya Kalmanovitch knows these relationships all too well. She was born in Fort McMurray, Alberta at the beginning of industrial development of the Athabasca Oil Sands. As a teenager, Kalmanovitch made her decision to become a musician because “music had nothing to do with oil.” But when Fort McMurray shot to international attention as the flashpoint of clashes over energy, the environment, and the economy, Kalmanovitch was called to go home.

Kalmanovitch’s polyphonic piece weaves together virtuosic storytelling, original research, field recordings, photography, and an original, improvised score. Her voice joins those of First Nations elders, activists, engineers, oil patch workers and members of her own family as they renegotiate their relationships to a challenged landscape. With a fiddle in one hand and a laptop computer filled with sounds and images from Fort McMurray Kalmanovitch brings audiences to the heart of a community that many will never see, but that has everything to do with the way we live today.

In 2020, Kalmanovitch launches an ambitious ten-year campaign to perform this piece in communities along the hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines, truck routes and crude-by-rail lines that carry Alberta bitumen and its byproducts throughout North America. Along the way, she is collaborating with community members to write, speak, play and sing their own songs and stories about oil. Gathered over time and documented on the project website, these songs and stories create dialogue across distance, forming a repository that deepens and humanizes the conversation about oil and climate crisis.

Creative Collaboration Workshop — Arts, Insight and Climate Action Tuesday, March 17, 2020 at 2 – 5 p.m. at the Arts Based Research Studio (4-104 Education North), University of Alberta

Can we have a different kind of conversation about oil? Games, image-making, dialogue, songs, stories and lots of laughter. Using conversation, storytelling, dialogue and group process techniques, this workshop introduces participants to new (and often surprising) ways of addressing issues about oil and energy transition through the lens of the arts. No theatre or musical experience is necessary. Just wear comfortable clothing and be prepared for fun.

Tanya Kalmanovitch is a Juilliard-trained violist and ethnomusicologist (University of Alberta ‘08). Born in Fort McMurray, she has gone onto an international career including field-work in Chennai, Dublin, and Amsterdam; two residences at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music; and master classes at the Banff Centre, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and many more. Since 2013, she has been Associate Professor at The New School in New York City.

This residency is presented as part of the FUTURES/Forward program, a national mentorship program embedding community-engaged artists with environmental organizations across Canada. Tanya and the Tar Sands Songbook is partnered with Climate Action Network - Réseau Action Climate Canada, Judith Marcuse Projects (JMP) and the International Centre of Art for Social Change. FUTURES/Forward is funded by The McConnell Foundation 

Please RSVP the performance at https://www.facebook.com/events/2093632844105326/?active_tab=about

Please RSVP the workshop at https://www.facebook.com/events/511665273079480/

Speaker: Dr. Diana Leong (Assistant Professor, San Diego State University)
March 6th, 3.00-4.30 PM, Senate Chamber (3-26 Arts & Convocation Hall)

Environmental scholars, artists, and activists have increasingly evoked the global imaginary of the climate commons to generate public interest in the causes and consequences of anthropogenic climate change. This talk will explore how the afterlife of slavery might productively inform the political, intellectual, and aesthetic work of the climate commons by examining the environmental cinema of Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) and Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer (2013). Both films underscore the difficulties of pursuing climate justice without acknowledging the pervasive investments in the abjection of racial blackness that drives even some of the most radically transformative creative projects.
Speaker Bio: Diana Leong is an Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. Her research interests include environmental justice, contemporary black literature, and the environmental humanities. She is currently completing a monograph, Against Wind and Tide: Toward a Slave Ship Ecology, that theorizes the slave ship as a site for the material and imaginative convergence of environmental justice and abolitionism.
This event is generously sponsored by the Department of English and Film Studies, the Department of Women's and Gender Studies, Dr. Julie Rak (Henry Marshall Tory Chair), the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Peter Lougheed Leadership College. Co-organized by the Feminist Research Speaker Series and Just Powers/Sustainability Council

Mark Morris: "Sow Those Landmines and Make America Great Again!
or: What do we teach when language can no longer be trusted?"

February 28, 2020 3:00 PM - 4:30 PMHC L-3,

The Domesday Clock is as close to midnight as it has ever been, and humanity has perhaps the darkest prospect for its future that most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Mark Morris argues that so many of what seem to be separate challenges – the climate crisis, the rise of authoritarian states, increased global competition, the enormous gulf between a tiny handful of the very rich and the rest of the world’s population, to name but some – are actually linked, and also share a common corruption of the honesty of language.
He has wondered for many years what it would have been like to teach in the 1930s if one was aware of what Nazi Germany was building to, and what his responsibility would have been to those students who were going to take the brunt of the consequences of‘peace in our time’. He sees the 2020s as echoing that era, and asks what our responsibility is to those students who are going to bear the brunt of what is almost inevitably coming.

Mark Morris has been an outsider looking in for most of his life, an Old Etonian Welshman-come-Albertan music critic. He has hobnobbed with the very rich and the famous and a few politicians, lived down and out as a kitchen porter, is an award-winning librettist, a photographer, a theatre director, the author of Domesday Revisited and the Pimlico Guide to 20th-Century Composers, and is currently the classical music critic of the Edmonton Journal. He has a doctorate in Creative Writing, is a former Artist-in-Residence at the University of Alberta, and has taught as a contract instructor in the Department of English and Film Studies for 20 years.

Humanities and social science research opens minds and helps shape a better, brighter future by advancing our understanding of social, cultural, political, legal, technological, economic and environmental issues. The work of scholars in the humanities and social sciences help us understand the world we live in and give us tools to imagine the future.

Each year, the Office of the Vice-President (Research and Innovation) and the Kule Institute for Advanced Study co-host Open Minds in celebration of talented and innovative humanities and social sciences colleagues at the University of Alberta. The event features lightning talks from researchers funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Please join us!

This year's event will take place on Wednesday, February 5, in room 2-115, Education North. For the full roster of speakers & topics, please visit: https://www.ualberta.ca/vice-president-research/openminds.html
Program of speakers begins at 4:00 pm, a reception will follow

Registration for the event is not required but much appreciated. Please register here.