ConU’s Ronald Rudin receives Trudeau Foundation Fellowship Award

What would you do with $225,000?

For Concordia history professor Ronald Rudin, the answer to this question is getting clearer and clearer each day.

Rudin is a recipient of the Trudeau Foundation Fellowship Award, a distinction awarded to five individuals each fall based on their achievements in research, creativity and social commitment.

“I think this is a further reflection of Concordia being recognized as a place where important research is being done,” said Rudin, who considers the fellowship as a means of highlighting the brilliance of Concordia.

Rudin plans to use his prize money to “develop a series of films dealing with historical topics.” No stranger to filmmaking, Rudin has produced two documentaries on Acadians and French history, Life After ÃŽle Ste-Croix and Remembering a Memory. He now has an opportunity to branch out and try to create something on a larger scale.

“It would be short-sighted just to make something narrowly defined largely done by myself,” said Rudin, who hopes his films will make history engaging to viewers. “Instead it’s an opportunity for me to be able to put together a team of people whose understanding of issues is far beyond my own.”

Telling history in a captivating and ultimately accurate way is a personal goal of Rudin’s.

“The stories we hear are not natural,” he explained, alluding to the way history is presented in modern day society. “Somebody who thinks about the past or even the present has to understand that when they’re confronted with a product, whether a book, a film or a university lecture, they are hearing a version of something. What they are hearing is not the singular truth,” Rudin said.

Rudin also elaborated on how history is currently taught as well as its function in our society.

“The government has decided to spend [millions of dollars] to teach Canadians about the War of 1812 because they feel we should know about the facts of the upcoming anniversary,” Rudin said, referring to a federal initiative to commemorate the War of 1812 bicentennial. “I don’t see a lot of value in simply knowing facts. We can all look in a book and know facts. The value of history is to realize that it is a story that does not have simple answers.”

All this despite the fact that some do not always see the purpose in history. According to Victoria Sheila, a Concordia finance student, history is “only important if we’re not just being taught the nice parts of it.”

“The challenge,” said Rudin, “is that some students think that history is cut and dry which is not true. I thought history was boring when they wanted me to learn dates and numbers. The challenge is trying to make students understand when they do history, it’s not just lining up the facts, but telling the story.”

Rudin is currently on sabbatical leave finishing his seventh book about the expropriation of Acadians in the mid-18th century.

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