Eyém Sqwà:l – UFV’s Literary Café at the Harrison Festival of the Arts

Eyém Sqwà:l = Strong Words @ the Harrison Festival of the Arts

Date: Monday, July 9 at 8:30pm 2018
Location: Memorial Hall

Tickets: Adult $28.00 ($25 til June 22nd)      Student/Senior $25.00 ( $23 til June 22nd)

UFV’s Literary Café at the Harrison Festival of the Arts offers an intimate opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the West Coast’s brightest writers and poets.

This year’s theme Eyém Sqwà:l : Strong Words, celebrates the voices of two powerful Stó:lō multi-media artists and their oral, performance-based style, along with world-renowned spoken word artist, Shane Koyczan who has been called the “poet of our generation.”

KELIYA

Keliya is a poet, screenwriter, filmmaker and hip hop artist from the Stó:lō Nation. She is also a graduate from the UBC Film Studies Bachelor of Arts program and aims to tell stories about her people that are not only modern and traditional, but also from an Aboriginal perspective.

Keliya has travelled across Canada and the US performing for communities and youth. These are the people for whom she makes her art and she is passionate about spreading messages of empowerment and love in this way.

OSTWELVE

Ronnie Dean Harris aka Ostwelve is a Stó:lō /St’át’imc/Nlaka’pamux multimedia artist based in Vancouver, BC. He has worked as an actor and composer on the APTN/Showcase TV series, Moccasin Flats, toured internationally as a hip-hop performer, been a director, programmer and producer for the Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival and is now the Program Director for “Reframing Relations.” This Community Arts Council of Vancouver initiative allows Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to interface with students and youth in schools and communities around the concept of reconciliation. Check out his website @ www.ronniedeanharris.com

SHANE KOYCZAN

Shane Koyczan is an extraordinary talent who has blown the dust off the traditional designation “poet.” He is a writer and multi-media spoken word artist whose work has appeared in print, viral videos, opera and his own furiously-honest, award-winning performances. His first published collection, Visiting Hours, was the only work of poetry selected by both the Guardian and the Globe and Mail for their Best Books of the Year lists in 2005. Koyczan followed up on that success with Stickboy, a novel in verse that chronicled the dark journey of a bullied child. From these words of helpless rage, he was asked to produce the libretto for a full operatic produced by Vancouver Opera in 2014.

Our Deathbeds Will be Thirsty was released in 2012. The book features the piece, “To This Day,” a poem about bullying that went viral on Youtube, receiving over a million views in a matter of days. Most recently Koyczan embarked on a journey to discover his own origin story. One result is the documentary, Shut Up and Say Something, in which he meets his father for the first time. For more information check out: shanekoyczan.com

You May Be Wrong, But You May Be Right: Exploring Biases with Sven Van de Wetering

“People who think they’re always right are almost always wrong. People who are always willing to consider the possibility they’re wrong tend to be right much more often,” says associate psychology professor Sven Van de Wetering.

It is this basic conundrum that Van de Wetering wanted to explore in a course he’s designing — one that looks at ideological biases from a psychological perspective. Heuristics, Biases and Critical Thinking, will be available in Winter 2019 and Van de Wetering sat down with the College of Arts blog to talk about his inspiration for this new offering.

“We know a huge amount about how we, as human beings, fool ourselves,” says Van de Wetering. In fact, he says, there is no shortage of psychological literature on the topic and he recently found a book that listed 99 different biases, which he says isn’t even complete.

What isn’t discussed as much is how to recognize these biases in your own thinking and how to account for this not only in research, but in day-to-day discussions.

One of the things that led him to the topic is a recent crisis in his field of social psychology, where liberal thinkers have been accused of shutting out their more conservative-minded colleagues. Van de Wetering was at first determined to do some research into this question, but eventually he and his research assistant, Flora Oswald realized that what social psychologists really need is more help identifying their biases from the outset. He considered developing a workshop for his peers, but decided that those who chose to attend such a program were probably already aware of the need to take other perspectives into account.

“Maybe, what I need to do instead, is catch them young,” he told himself.

Fortunately, Van de Wetering, who has been teaching psychology at UFV for 20 years and has access to a new crop of students every semester, is in a good position to do this. Encouraged by Oswald, he came up with a 13-week course in about 20 minutes. Still he wasn’t sure how interested students would be in the idea of studying their own prejudices and biases, so he offered a prototype in winter 2018. The response, he said, was overwhelming.

Moving away from the typical lecture format, Van de Wetering asked students to do a great deal of reading ahead of time and then to spend class time discussing real-world issues through the lens of various biases. Issues like: should there be a ban on pit-bulls? (an interesting topic, but one Van de Wetering says he’ll probably never use again, as it was too inconclusive.)

Van de Wetering also made it clear from the outset that the students would have input into the way the class ran.

“Just about my first line . . . was ‘I am not the only smart person in the room. I’m counting on you guys to help me figure out what it is we’re actually doing to think critically in this course,’” he said.

Students, he says, loved being so involved. “I think I’ve touched a nerve – I think I’m offering something that they really, really want: relevance and an active role in the overall design of the course.”

With algorithms constantly directing content on our social media channels to things we’ve shown interest in before, Van de Wetering thinks a class about biases is particularly relevant today.

“If you are actually seeking the truth, having people echoing your prejudices back to you is not a good thing,” he says. “You want people to challenge you even if it turns out that they’re ultimately wrong.”

A Few Examples of Cognitive Biases

  • Confirmation Bias: Favoring information that conforms to your existing beliefs and discounting evidence that does not conform.
  • Halo Effect: Your overall impression of a person influences how you feel and think about his or her character. This especially applies to physical attractiveness influencing how you rate their other qualities.
  • Self-Serving Bias: The tendency to blame external forces when bad things happen and give yourself credit when good things happen. When you win a poker hand it is due to your skill at reading the other players and knowing the odds, while when you lose it is due to getting dealt a poor hand.
  • Narrative bias (from Van de Wetering): The tendency, when one has embraced a narrative that can be used to explain a certain group of facts, to ignore facts and possibilities that do not cohere with that narrative.

 

 

Helping high school students navigate racial identity

Helping high school students navigate racial identity

 

Anecia Gill, Sociology BA 2017

By creating an anti-racism mentorship workshop that she intends to deliver at Abbotsford high schools this fall, Anecia Gill was able to combine her passions for social theory and her hometown.

Gill’s family has lived in Abbotsford for over 100 years and she feels a strong connection to this place. She is also drawn to sociology thanks to her mother, who took a degree in the same field and had all of her old textbooks on the family bookshelf. Gill completed her own Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at UFV this spring and in her final year she created the workshop in a directed study with Dr. Katherine Watson.

Inspired by critical race theory (DuBois, Fanon), which outlines the complexities of non-white racial identity, she wanted to help young people in Abbotsford navigate this complicated terrain.

“The root of this is the racism they face,” she says. “I’m hoping that I can help explain . . . and legitimize their experiences so that they can better understand themselves and how they fit within society.” Gill notes that when people have theoretical knowledge and vocabulary, they can better articulate their experiences and advocate for themselves within their communities.

Schools, she says, have had a long history acting as gatekeepers for legitimate knowledge, so offering an after-school workshop that attempts to critique power structures seemed like the ideal place. Her intention is for the program to help decolonize and validate non-white identity by legitimizing and supporting the lived realities of non-white students, in particular, Indo-Canadian youth, whom the program targets.

She admits that she can’t teach high school students the ins and outs of critical race theory in five days, but she wants to spark their interest. And in doing so, she hopes to give youth some helpful tools to understand and negotiate their racial identity.

For a taste of what students will learn, check out Gill’s course outline:

Day one: Cultural hegemony and power knowledge – Gramsci and Foucault

Day two: Critical Race Theory – Du Bois and Fanon

Day three: Brown experiences of racism – Said

Day four: Intersectionality of race and gender: a critique of imperialist feminism

Day five: Wrap-up discussion