Colloqui-what?

Looking at the 20th Women’s and Gender studies colloquium

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) colloquium at the University of Winnipeg (U of W). A colloquiumis similar to an academic seminar, where the students from WGS and Disability Studies program (DIS) will comment on their topics of choice in short presentations.

The WGS colloquium was started by Dr. Fiona Green, who felt it was important to have a space for students to share their work with the community and other students.

According to Dr. Sharanpal Ruprai, an assistant professor in WGS department at the U of W, and Dr. Roewan Crowe, who is the chair of the department, this year’s colloquium is special.

“There is a real need for people with WGS and DIS degrees given the rise of feminist movements here in Winnipeg and across the globe,” Ruprai and Crowe say in an email.

“It is important to remember that feminists, women, women-identified and non-binary folks have supported and contributed to these movements here at the University of Winnipeg for over 20 years. We have a strong foundation in the department of WGS/DIS in supporting the development of feminism(s) and students who are engaged in this valuable work,” Crowe and Ruprai say.

Breanne Nemez, who is in the Faculty of Arts and majoring in political science and WGS at the U of W, says that the WGS colloquium is very important.

“It’s an opportunity to hear about the super-cool work that other feminist students are undertaking. It’s also an opportunity to take our feminist theorizing beyond the classroom and share it with the broader community. I think this is especially important in a discipline like WGS, where our academic work ought to inform our everyday lives and praxis,” Nemez says.

According to the faculty’s website, WGS is an “intersectional approach to understanding social problems and phenomena. It pays special attention to the ways sex, gender, and sexuality are shaped by colonialism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and transphobia, as well as by constructions of difference based on class, (dis)ability, religion, ethnicity, and culture.”

Ruprai and Crowe say the department is involved with the colloquium because the WGS faculty sees the importance for providing space and funds for students to participate in sharing their own knowledge. The main purpose of the colloquium is to celebrate the work of students.

“For many students, sharing their work outside the classroom setting might not be possible, but the colloquium is a chance for students to share their work in a relaxed setting with friends and family. Through supporting each others’ work, students build a sense of collegiality and feminist community. Additionally, this opportunity offers students with presentation/conference experience,” Crowe and Ruprai say.

Pauline Greenhill, of the WGS department, who is currently the acting co-ordinator of DIS, says the department is involved with the colloquium because after Dr. Michelle Owen moved from DIS to WGS in 2013-14, the DIS studies program was incorporated into the WGS department to become one.

“WGS was happy to welcome Disability Studies because we share interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspectives, feminist and intersectional concerns, and interest in social justice as well as in understanding cultural diversity from humanities and social science perspectives,” Greenhill says.

Published in Volume 72, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 29, 2018)

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