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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

  • New chairs in science and tech literacy
  • Master of Peace and Conflict Studies program
  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs

New chairs in science and tech literacy

A news release from the Department of Philosophy

The Department of Philosophy is delighted to announce the appointment of two Chairs in Scientific and Technological Literacy at the University of Waterloo.

Professor Carla Fehr joined the University in July as the Wolfe Chair in Science and Technology Studies, while Professor Heather Douglas will arrive in January 2012 as the Waterloo Chair in Science and Society.

The Chairs share a mandate of research, teaching, and public outreach bearing on topics that include the nature of science, public understanding of scientific practices, and the interrelations between scientific innovation, society, and policy-making. As one part of this mandate, Professors Douglas ands Fehr will design and help implement new undergraduate courses aimed at enriching and contextualizing Waterloo students' knowledge of science and technology, and the role of science in contemporary policy debates.

Professor Fehr comes to Waterloo from Iowa State University, and has a research background in both Biology and the Philosophy of Science. She researches and publishes on a range of issues, especially bearing on (i) the social structure of scientific communities that promote excellence in research, (ii) evolutionary explanations of gender-linked traits and behaviour, and (iii) the question of how scientific ignorance can be a constructed property – not merely a lack of knowledge or lack of learning opportunity, but something that serves a functional social or psychological role. She moreover has a track record of program-building, having worked extensively with faculty and administrators in scientific and professional fields to implement hiring and retention strategies that create diversity in the research community. Professor Fehr is already making contacts at the University with researchers interested in similar topics, and in scientific outreach more generally; she invites anyone interest to get in touch with her.

Professor Douglas is currently on a visiting appointment at the University of Pittsburgh, but joins Waterloo from her appointment at the University of Tennessee. Her research focuses on the interplay between science, values, and public policy, drawing implications for both our understanding of scientific reasoning and the role of science within society. She works with examples from the fields of risk analysis, climate science, and the history of nuclear technology, while consulting widely with practicing scientists in diverse fields. Her 2009 book Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal (University of Pittsburgh Press) is already influential among researchers working in the public understanding of science. Professor Douglas looks forward to bringing her research interests at the interface of science and policy to a position with both a research and a public outreach mandate.

The Department will host a one-day symposium to inaugurate the two Chair positions on March 23, 2012; further details will be announced in the new year.

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[Rubik's cube on table at back of lecture hall]

High school students learned about the relationships between algorithms and Rubik's Cubes (and by extension, the 1980s) at the annual CS4U Day hosted December 6 by the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. High school students are invited to the university to learn about the possibilities of computer science. Around 310 students attended the event, which was webcast live from the Mathematics 3 lecture room.

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Master of Peace and Conflict Studies program

a news release from Conrad Grebel University College

In the culmination of more than a decade of dreaming and a year of intense work, Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo announces the launch of a new Master of Peace and Conflict Studies (MPACS) program.

Combining rigorous interdisciplinary scholarship with concrete application, MPACS is a vibrant academic program that will empower students with the knowledge, research, and practical skills needed to contribute to nonviolent peacebuilding efforts. MPACS places a unique focus on the pivotal role that individuals within civil society play as catalysts for peace. The MPACS program will be a course-based, professional graduate program open to both full-time and part-time students beginning in the fall of 2012.

While the field of peace and conflict studies has been steadily growing over the last decade, the number of graduate programs available in Canada has not kept pace. The MPACS program will become one of only a handful of peace and conflict studies graduate programs in Canada. The program will be especially unique among graduate programs in this field for its specific emphasis on empowering civil society in fostering positive change.

Lowell Ewert, Director of the PACS program at Conrad Grebel observes that, “civil society is key to peacebuilding because it brings out the best in humanity by inspiring citizens to take responsibility for their communities and develop creative solutions to local issues. Imagine how impoverished our communities would be if there were no effective civil society organizations. By mobilizing our community to get involved in organizations that promote the arts, sports, health, education, religion or social justice our communities are enriched and made more compassionate.”

Based at Conrad Grebel, MPACS will draw on the unique resources that the Peace and Conflict Studies Department — the oldest such department in Canada — and the University of Waterloo have to offer. Program reviewers George Lopez (Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame) and Vern Neufeld Redekop (Associate Professor of Conflict Studies at St. Paul University) called the program “a well-conceived venture which is highly reflective of both Conrad Grebel’s mission as a Mennonite educational institution and the aspirations of the University of Waterloo to offer strong, competitive and professional graduate programs.”

Applications for the MPACS program are currently being accepted by the Graduate Studies Office at the University of Waterloo. Equipped with interdisciplinary knowledge and practical skills of peace building, MPACS graduates will be ready for careers in public, private, or non-profit sectors, working as agents of peaceful change at community, institutional, and systematic levels. Prospective students interested in stepping into careers as practitioners are especially encouraged to apply.

Processing of applications and admission of students will not occur until the MPACS program is approved by the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance. The university will acknowledge and store applications, but will be unable to evaluate or act on them in any way until the program has been formally approved by the Quality Council. In the unlikely case that the program is not approved, the application fee will be refunded.

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Link of the day

Race to the South Pole

When and where

Christmas luncheon buffet at University Club, Monday-Friday through December 23, 11:30 to 2:00.

Kinesiology Lab Days, December 7 to 16. Student visits begin at 10:15 a.m. each day in LHI and BMH.

Fall term examinations December 8-22. Unofficial grades begin to appear in Quest December 23; official grades available January 23.

Getting Started in Desire2Learn workshop for instructors, organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Wednesday 9:30 a.m. to 11:30. a.m. Details.

Systems Design Engineering seminar featuring John McPhee, "(Multibody) Systems Theory: From Cars to Humans," Wednesday 11:30 a.m., E5 6004.

Buffet Luncheon in the Festival Room, December 14-16, 12:00 to 2:00 p.m., ext. 84700 for reservations.

University Club Christmas dinner buffet, Wednesday 5 to 8 p.m.

Creative Enterprise Initiative second annual Community Update begins 5 p.m., Architecture building, Cambridge.

Digital Media Series: Gamification. Public lecture by Games Institute director Neil Randall on what gamification is and how it is affecting the world in terms of marketing, buying decisions and just plain fun. Stratford Campus, Wednesday 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free admission. Details.

Getting Started in Desire2Learn workshop for instructors, organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, Thursday, December 15, 1:30, and other dates, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Retirement reception for Susan Sykes, Thursday 3:30 p.m. at the University Club. RSVP ASAP to ccyee@

St. Jerome’s University president’s Christmas gala, Thursday 6 p.m., by invitation.

Pension and benefits committee Friday 8:30, Needles Hall room 3004.

International spouses potluck event, Friday 12:45, Columbia Lake Village community centre.

Fees due for winter term courses December 19.

Getting Started in Desire2Learn workshop for instructors, organized by Centre for Teaching Excellence, December 19, 10:30, and other dates, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

UWRC Book Club: The Laacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, Wednesday, December 21, 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

Christmas and New Year’s break Saturday, December 24, through Monday, January 2, university closed, reopening January 3, 2012.

Winter term classes begin Tuesday, January 3.

Positions available

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

• Assistant to the chair, civil and environmental engineering, USG 5
• Administrative assistant, information systems and technology, USG 6
• Client support/ computing consutant, information systems and technology, USG 7-9
• Director of advancement, faculty of science, USG 14/15
• BV/ED receptionist, optometry clinic, USG 3
• Manager, student experience, international, student success office, USG 10
• Project manager, international marketing and recruitment, marketing and undergraduate recruitment office, USG 9-13 (13-month secondment or contract)

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