Students got a crash course in political activism, research and the university setting while munching on their People’s Potato lunch on Oct. 7, courtesy of this week’s Lounge Speaker Series panel.
Featuring Concordia professor Anna Kruzynski, Concordia Student Union president Lex Gill and activist Jaggi Singh, “Activism and Research in Turbulent Times” revealed the existence of conflicting ideas regarding what post-secondary education should be like and how research should be conducted.
Gill, who did not speak on behalf of the CSU but rather as a student with a longtime involvement with grassroots organization Ã¼berculture, experience reporting during the G20 gathering in Toronto, and a background working with the Dominion and Media Co-op, called the relationship between the state and private sector “blatant” and “incestuous.”Â “[The] crown jewel of this whole project is the western university,” she said.
There is tension between the idea of the university as a laboratory for social change, she said, and that of the university as “a training ground for the new imperialist.”
“Should minds conform to the needs of the market?” she asked.
Singh made a repeat appearance at the series, organized in collaboration with the Quebec Public Interest Research Group at Concordia. This time, Singh spoke as a representative of the Community-University Research Exchange in an effort to make research itself seem less alienating and to share his vision of research as a tool for social transformation.
“Often, our day-to day-lives are at best things that are observed, and we’re just objects of those lives rather than being agents of our own change,” he said. “The university setting in particular trains all of us to see academics and intellectuals as […] the ones who have the important ideas and understandings of the world.”
Meanwhile, he said, “We’re out of the equation. We’re spectators.”
He encouraged a more process-oriented approach to research instead of always aiming for the end goal of a final product.
The next Lounge Speaker Series event takes place on Oct. 14. Titled “Attack on Unions: A Warning from the Postal Workers,” it features Dave Bleakney, national representative of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.