by Alex Matos
October 18, 2018 | Arts and Culture
Throughout the week of September 10th 2018, Dawson College held its annual Humanities and Public Life conference. This year’s theme was “Past Imperfect Reflections on Memory.” Dozens of speakers from Dawson and elsewhere met to discuss the topic through the lens of their area of expertise. The presence of speakers from the faculties of history, sciences, and social sciences gave students access to conferences tailored to their personal interests. Among others, four guest speakers from Dawson’s S.P.A.C.E. program spoke to students about the influence of the outside world on one’s own perspectives.
Program coordinators Andrew Katz, Amanda Beattie, Jennifer Smith, and Joel Trudeau opened the conference with a simple activity in which the audience reflected on a projected image and wrote the first word that came to mind. As answers were called out, the difference in first impressions among students became increasingly apparent.
One is left to wonder just how this arises. Through group discussion, it became clear that differing interpretations are tied to factors such as memory and experience, shaping one's identity and thinking. This is where the concept of “perspective” is forged: the convergence of culture, society and individual experience.
This could easily be applied to an everyday situation: Instagram. Think about the hundreds of posts so effortlessly scrolled through in a matter of minutes. Each one is a manifestation of a certain vantage point. From angles, filters and lenses—down to mere cropping—every aspect of a photo affects how the viewer will perceive and experience the captured moment. Remarkably so, translating a photograph into real-life implications incorporates it into a very human thought process. By that token, it is clear that the perspective one chooses to put out into the world can very easily influence the views of people in their environment. Andrew Katz chose then, in the discussion, to bring forth the important question at the core of the day’s talk: how can we connect what we know to the world outside of our own minds, and use this to positively impact our surroundings?
At Dawson College, an interdisciplinary program known as S.P.A.C.E. (Sciences Participating with Arts and Culture in education) offers students the opportunity to challenge their perspectives through creation. The program presents students with the opportunity to connect their own thought processes to those of a greater student body through personalized projects. The S.P.A.C.E. program offers mentoring to any student who needs help brainstorming, editing or creating, as well as various platforms through which they showcase their work. This includes the annual spring S.P.A.C.E. exhibition, in which students are invited to submit work revolving, this year, around the theme of perspective(s). This can be done by March 1st through the S.P.A.C.E. website.
Furthermore, in order to celebrate its tenth anniversary, S.P.A.C.E. will also be holding its first writing contest, with categories such as prose (including fiction and creative non-fiction such as memoirs), poetry, and essays. Submission to the content is through the website as well, with a deadline of December 21st 2018. At any other point during the year, the S.P.A.C.E team also encourages regular submissions through the online webzine. Any further enquiries could be answered through MIO by the S.P.A.C.E coordinators (see names above) or by contacting the Administrative Assistant, Ursula Sommerer.