Anthropology, economics and political science students present at transdisciplinary conference

March 25, 2019 | Campus Life, Society
At MacEwan University, students not only challenge themselves with research, scholarly and creative activity in the classroom – they also take advantage of many opportunities to share that work with a broader audience at symposia, presentations and conferences.

Earlier this month, the Department of Anthropology, Economics and Political Science held its seventh annual transdisciplinary undergraduate conference, where students from MacEwan, as well as Mount Royal University, presented work under the theme “Metamorphosis: Regeneration, evolution and revolution.”

The papers presented were organized into five categories: Permutations of Power, Regenerating Narratives on Health, Reconsidering Race, Recognizing Gender and Reimagining Research Communication in Archaeology.

Dr. Katie Biittner, assistant professor of anthropology and one of the conference organizers, says the conference is an opportunity for students to develop their professional skills, in a constructive learning environment. “Students receive feedback on their formal conference presentation skills from our faculty members who want to see all participants do their best.”

Katie also sees the conference as a way for students to broaden their horizons. “This conference is transdisciplinary to reflect the disciplines in our department – anthropology, economics and political science. There is much value in our different disciplines engaging in discussion about topics that are relevant to us all.”

Anthropology student Vanessa Valcourt presented her research on how female superheroes’ storylines in print and film relate to the political and social movements of their time. “I argued that the early use of Wonder Woman could be rooted in propaganda, and has since shifted to a reflection of current social beliefs of what women should be,” she says. “I used the recent film to support that this is a continued practice today.”

Vanessa found that the transdisciplinary nature of the conference gave her a new perspective on her research. “When you get further along in your degree, you ultimately start getting feedback from the same faculty members,” she says. “Being exposed to other professors who you don't normally work with gives you a fresh look into your work, which helps you progress in your studies.”

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