December 19, 2018 | Society
From doomed expeditions to new dance partners, MacEwan University had an interesting year in the news. Here we look back on some of the stories that drew lots of media attention – and just a few of the many profs and personalities who were called upon for their expertise.
Top 5 news stories
1. Trudeau comes to town
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a town hall meeting in MacEwan’s David Atkinson Gymnasium. Close to 1,700 people came to participate in the open forum and discuss issues impacting Canadians.
2. Get the lead out
All this time we thought the Franklin Expedition was foiled by lead poisoning. Turns out, according to a research team that includes MacEwan’s own Dr. Treena Swanston, an assistant professor in biological sciences and anthropology, we may be wrong. And local, national and international media outlets were eager to share this discovery.
3. A healthy idea
The media touted MacEwan University Health Centre (MUHC) as the first of its kind, and we had to agree. MacEwan partnered with the Department of Family Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta to develop the MUHC. In addition to providing health-care services to the MacEwan community, the centre will eventually offer practicum and work experience opportunities for MacEwan students, including those in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
4. Roundhouse kicks into gear
In May, MacEwan launched the Social Innovation Institute (SII). Founded by School of Business prof Dr. Leo Wong, the institute connects people with big ideas to the resources they need to turn those ideas into actions. Along with that, SII has a partnership with the Roundhouse, a new coworking space in Allard Hall. To kick off the institute’s inaugural year, MacEwan welcomed Earth Group’s Kori Chilibeck and Matt Moreau as the first social entrepreneurs in residence.
5. New dance partners
In June MacEwan University and Ballet Edmonton announced a new partnership that not only saw the city’s only professional ballet company take up residence in Allard Hall’s Triffo Theatre, but also creates a number of new academic and research opportunities for the university’s faculty and students.
Expert voices in the news
“The key for the conservative voting block in Alberta — and this amalgamation of the two parties — is to have a leader to be the face of the party and to be able to set the terrain for policy development and the building of constituency associations in preparation for the next election.”
Political science profs Dr. Chaldeans Mensah (above, quoted above in a Globe and Mail story about the United Conservative Party’s leadership race) and Dr. John Soroski were regular fixtures in local and national news stories. Each are regularly called upon to discuss the latest in Alberta politics.
“My research on sexual offenders often finds its way back into my classroom. It’s important for students to understand the things they are learning are backed by science. It’s also why every one of my courses includes an assignment that asks students to read research – and to question it.”
When the media needs an expert to talk about homicide statistics, sociology prof Dr. Sandy Jung is the one to call. Her 2014 research report is often cited in articles about the murder rate in Edmonton, and her more recent research focuses on the prevention of sexual, intimate partner and general violence. Recently, she spent almost a year at the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) headquarters reviewing homicide files and creating summaries of intimate partner violence and sexual assault cases.
“The two suggestions are not mutually exclusive either…. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t do both [increasing demand and decreasing supply to drive up the value of oil] at the same time. Because the more demand you could increase, the less supply you would have to curtail.”
Dr. Michael Roberts in the School of Business is often asked about economic issues facing Albertans. Above, he responds to a CTV question about the price differential facing Alberta’s energy producers.
“People are experiencing discrimination, hate, violence and injustice because of who they are, and that’s not acceptable. I want students to understand this isn’t just historical, or happening in another country or another province — it’s happening here. So let's collectively work together to address it.”
MacEwan was very excited to announce a new Office of Human Rights, Diversity and Equity. Since then its director, Irfan Chaudhry, has been interviewed about his new position and what it means for MacEwan, and because of his background in teaching sociology and criminology at MacEwan, as well as sitting on the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee, he is often called upon to comment about racism and hate crimes.
“How can these contracts — these Catholicity clauses — be allowed to stand when they are clearly discriminatory…. It’s hard to believe that in 2018, when same-sex marriage is legal in this country, that anyone could lose their job because of that.”
Dr. Kristopher Wells is a respected human rights advocate and academic, known for his community work and research on sexual and gender minority youth, education and culture. In Fall 2018, he joined MacEwan as an associate professor in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program, and since then has been a key voice in stories pertaining to human rights, including news about a Calgary Catholic School District contract that requires teachers to uphold Catholic values.