Wednesday, May 23, 2007

  • Iranian scholars coming to Grebel
  • All welcome to see safety exhibits
  • To New York, Nicaea and Lake Erie
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs


Associate dean (information systems and technology) in the faculty of science, newly appointed as of May 1, is Mike Hudson of the department of physics and astronomy.

Link of the day

World Turtle Day

When and where

Monthly book sale of UW bookstore merchandise, Wednesday-Friday, South Campus Hall concourse.

Fund-raising barbecue for Udai, today and Thursday 11:00 to 3:00, Biology green.

[Fong]Smarter Health seminar: Geoffrey Fong (left), department of psychology, "Why Not Evidence-Based Health Policies? The Case of Global Tobacco Control", 3 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

Career workshop: "Starting Your Own Business, The Basics" 4:30, Tatham Centre room 1208, registration online.

All-you-can-eat pasta night at Mudie's cafeteria, Village I, 4:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Centre Stage Dance performances continue today and Thursday 6:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Research and innovation announcement by John Milloy, MPP for Kitchener Centre and parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, scheduled for Thursday 11 a.m., postponed, date to be announced.

Faculty of Mathematics presents founder Ralph Stanton, wearer of the original Pink Tie, talking about the history of the faculty, Thursday 3:30, Davis Centre room 1350, reception follows.

Department of English language and literature presents Caroline Bassett, University of Sussex, "Not Fade Away: Narrative and Digital Culture", Thursday 4:15, Humanities room 373.

Toronto 50th anniversary alumni celebration with chancellor Mike Lazaridis, president David Johnston, co-op director Peggy Jarvie, Thursday 6 to 8 p.m., Liberty Grand, Exhibition Place, details online.

Waterloo Math@40 anniversary celebration, dinner at Federation Hall, remarks by founding chair Ralph Stanton, Friday 6:00 p.m., Federation Hall, tickets $67, registration online.

Conrad Grebel University College sleepover for alumni from the first decade, May 25-26, evening reception, then single or shared rooms available, information ext. 2–4381.

Warrior Weekend with free activities in the Student Life Centre, Friday and Saturday evenings, including movies (Friday " Catch and Release", "Perfume", Saturday "Wild Hogs"), crafts, pizza, cotton candy, face painting, details online.

You @ Waterloo Day open house for future students Saturday, details online.

Mennonite Relief Sale in New Hamburg, outing from Columbia Lake Village, bus leaves 9 a.m., $3 per person, tickets at CLV community centre.

City of Waterloo 150th anniversary parade Sunday 1:00 p.m., King Street from William to Central, followed by afternoon picnic in Waterloo Park, details online. Family activities at Centre for International Governance Innovation, 1:00 to 5:00.

CanHEIT 2007: Canadian Higher Education and Information Technology conference, May 27-30, organized by UW and held on the Wilfrid Laurier University campus, details online.

Toronto Blue Jays vs. Chicago Cubs, trip organized by Columbia Lake Village, June 2, bus leaves 10:30 a.m., admission and bus $25 per person, tickets at CLV community centre.

Charlottetown alumni event sponsored by UW and University of Guelph: family skate with Olympic medalist Cassie Campbell, followed by reception, Saturday, June 2, 4:00 to 6:30 p.m., details online.

UW Retirees Association Niagara winery tour Tuesday, June 12, sold out, information 519-699-4015.

'Vision' conference, "Tomorrow's Health Leaders Together Today", Saturday, June 16, Davis Centre, details online.

Positions available

On this week’s list from the human resources department:

• Officer, research communications, Office of Research, USG 9
• Research network manager, Institute for Quantum Computing, USG 12
• Serviceperson I (carpenter), plant operations
• Project manager, integrated and interactive media, Office of the Registrar, USG 9
• Administrative coordinator, Centre for Mental Health, psychology, USG 6
• Manager, information systems and technology services, Graphics, USG 11

Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

Iranian scholars coming to Grebel

Despite the rumours, the controversial Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi is not coming to Waterloo next week, organizers of an interfaith conference say.

The event, co-sponsored by Conrad Grebel University College (not UW itself) and the Mennonite Central Committee, and aimed at “peace building through academic dialogue”, has attracted international publicity and some criticism because some colleagues of Mesbah are involved. The meeting is to bring together Iranian scholars from the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, in Qom, Iran, with North American Mennonite scholars.

It’s the third event of its kind. A first conference was held at the University of Toronto in 2002 and a follow-up in Qom in 2004.

“Shi'ah Muslim–Mennonite Christian Dialogue III” will be held at Grebel May 27 to 30. “Although the overall theme of the conference is Spirituality, there will be other opportunities for conversation between the two faith groups,” an MCC news release says. “A limited number of observers from both the local Shi'ite community and interested Mennonites will also be attending. The aim is to contribute towards further understanding and relationship building between the two religious communities at both the local and global level.”

The release adds that “some members of Canada's Iranian community have expressed concerns about the conference. Their concerns centre on the director of the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, in Qom, where the invited Muslim scholars teach. They fear that the scholars from the Institute share some of the extremist views attributed to the director," meaning Mesbah.

Henry Paetkau, Grebel's president, says that from the Mennonite faith perspective, inter-faith dialogue, particularly with a country that is portrayed in the west as the "enemy", is a practical expression of the biblical command to be "agents of reconciliation".

Says Jim Pankratz, academic dean at Grebel: "We believe that this conference is an important expression of open dialogue and freedom of speech. Through such dialogue we have learned to understand that all Iranians (like Canadians), and even all members of a single educational institution, do not speak with a single voice."

The conference will involve academic presentations by six Iranian scholars and six Mennonites from Canada and the United States. There will be two public sessions at Grebel — on Sunday and Monday evenings — and a public panel discussion on Thursday evening, after the conference, at the University of Toronto. All the speakers have lived in Canada, the United States or Britain, and all have degrees from universities in those countries or have been visiting researchers there.

MCC has a 15-year history of involvement in Iran, beginning with earthquake relief. A student exchange program began in 1998 between the Khomeini Institute and MCC. Through this program, North American Christians go to live in Qom where they learn about Islam and Iran. Meanwhile, scholars from the Khomeini Institute come to study at the Toronto School of Theology. One of these scholars recently finished his PhD in the philosophy of religion, the first Muslim to graduate from the consortium of Christian divinity schools.

The ayatollah himself “has never been involved” in the exchange program, says Paetkau.

The academic conferences, MCC says, grew out of the relationships established between the faculties of the two religious communities. “This relationship also resulted in learning tours to Iran, participation in conferences at other institutions in Iran, and a recent ecumenical peace delegation of American Christian leaders to Iran. MCC considers these Mennonite and Muslim interactions as grassroots peace work — working together to help bridge the dangerous divide between North America and Iran.”

Paetkau noted that some faculty members from Grebel have traveled to Iran and have hosted Iranian scholars in Canada. The proceedings of the past conferences have been published in the Conrad Grebel Review.

He said some organizations within the Canadian Muslim community have become aware of the controversy around the conference and have sent messages of encouragement, supporting this initiative to strengthen understanding between religious and cultural communities. Supporters and objectors have been invited to a public meeting in advance of the conference, tonight at MCC offices in Kitchener.

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All welcome to see safety exhibits

Lab safety at UW includes knowing what to do if "pathogens and biological materials" get loose . . . a gas cylinder "can become a lethal missile if the valve is broken off" . . . safety inspections touch on everything from protective equipment to policies.

Those are among the issues to be raised tomorrow in a Safety Awareness Day that will include half a dozen seminars as well as exhibits by several equipment vendors and the Waterloo fire-rescue service, all organized by UW's safety office.

The event is aimed at department health and safety coordinators and members of the Joint Health and Safety Committee, but also staff members, faculty members and graduate students at large, says safety director Kevin Stewart. Participants in the workshops should register ahead of time (online or at ext. 3-3587), while the exhibits and vendors are open to all, from 10:30 to 2:00 tomorrow in the Davis Centre fishbowl lounge.

Doug Dye of the safety office will talk about "Inspecting the Workplace" (why to do it, as well as "how to prepare, conduct and write reports for inspections") and also about "Conducting Work-Specific WHMIS Training". WHMIS is the government-mandated Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, which involves general rules for chemicals and other substances. "Workers must also receive specific instruction in the safe handling and use of each controlled product," Dye explains, and will talk about MSDS information sheets as a resource for providing that training.

Ian Fraser, also of the safety office, will give a "Lab Safety Program Overview", with some attention to future requirements, and colleague Kate Windsor will discuss "Office Safety and Ergonomics", with attention to preventing both accidents and repetitive strain injury.

Finally, Rob Luneberg of the firm Praxair will give two sessions on "Gas Cylinder Safety", including handling, storage and regulator care.

Exhibitors, besides the fire department, will include Acorn Fire Safety, Praxair, ROI Ergonomics, Tenaquip (a vendor of items from staplers to welding torches), and VWR, who specialize in laboratory equipment.

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To New York, Nicaea and Lake Erie

It seems to happen at least once a week: a group of UW students crown their academic achievements with success at an outside competition, whether it involves vehicle performance, research presentation or technical design. Here's the latest, as reported in e-mail over the weekend: "I'm a civil engineering student, and will be getting a degree from UW in just a few weeks if Quest is to be believed. This past Friday (the 18th) I was in New York City with three classmates and one professor to give a final presentation for Metcalf & Eddy's Academic Design Competition. Sadly, we didn't win it, but we did wrap up the second place behind the University of Madison (Wisconsin). The team consisted of myself (Jonathan Musser) along with Jessica Pickel, Elizabeth MacLanders, and Pete Thompson. We were supervised by Professor Wayne Parker from the department of civil engineering. We were invited to NYC to present our preliminary design of a wastewater reuse project, and while there found out that our design had already been completed by the company and will probably be implemented in New Jersey in the next few years!"

Alternatives Journal, published in UW's faculty of environmental studies, generally has a theme for each issue: water, politics, food. "But for our December 2007 issue we‘re breaking from tradition to make room for those important and fascinating stories that just can‘t be hemmed in. This Out of the Box issue will explore a wide range of environmental topics and ideas that don‘t make it into the mainstream press in a substantial way. We are looking for several 1500-word to 2500-word essays that dive deeply into environmental ideas and action. Lively, thoughtful writing will lead the reader through the hidden dimensions of ecological issues, to reveal their social, scientific and political underpinnings. In the spirit of 'no-limits' we are interested in your short fiction, poetry and artwork as well. Alternatives has a limited budget of about $250 per essay to a maximum of four submissions. This stipend is available to professional and amateur writers and students only. Alternatives combines the learned rigour of an academic journal with the breezy style of a magazine." There's more information online.

"We leave next Friday," says Tom Yoder Neufeld, faculty member in religious studies at Conrad Grebel University College. Along with local Mennonite pastor Fred Redekop, he's leading a two-week trip (they return June 10) to western Turkey and Greece, "exploring the world of Paul", the first-century missionary who brought Christianity to the Ephesians, the Galatians and the rest. The trip begins, says Neufeld, with "a few days in Istanbul, and then in western Turkey, visiting ancient sites related to the emergence of Christianity, such as Nicaea, Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Ephesus. The second week is spent in Greece, visiting sites such as Philippi, Delphi, Corinth, and Athens. We also have opportunity to learn something about Islam in Turkey, and about the Greek Orthodox tradition in Greece. There are 23 persons on this tour, including one UW history student."

The new issue of Phys 13 News, published by UW's physics and astronomy department for high school teachers, includes a brief essay, "Why Schrödinger's Cat Should Worry Us", by A. J. Leggett, the Nobel-winning physicist who recently joined the department. • Speaking of Phys 13 News, in case you're baffled by the puzzle that appeared in this Daily Bulletin a week ago today, here's the answer: 26. • Ladan Tahvildari of the electrical and computer engineering department has been named guest editor-in-chief for a special issue of the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, dealing with service-oriented architectures, to be published next spring.

The Federation of Students is doing a "live entertainment survey" on its web site (or paper copies are available at the Feds office in the Student Life Centre). •  Compressed air will be shut off in the central science buildings tomorrow morning from 6:00 to 8:00, to allow work to be done on the lines that support the fish laboratories. • A busload from the UW Retirees Association is off to the Lake Erie region today to see Port Burwell and surrounding communities and tour the Erie Shores Wind Farms.

And . . . repairs are to begin today on the damage to the overpass between Biology I and Chemistry I buildings, the result of a recent encounter between the ceiling and a truck. "The area is open to the public, but use caution," says Peter Fulcher of the plant operations department.


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