conference

The Olympics, Part I: Insights from Marc Kennedy

The 2016 Summer Olympics happened while the blog was on vacation. I have to admit that I had mixed feelings about the event, for many of the same reasons that were so eloquently expressed by fellow blogger Caitlin Constantine. And after the event ended, I read a very thoughtful and critical article which got me thinking about how the Olympics  affect the structure and funding of amateur sports in Canada.

So I’m going to write two posts related to the Olympics. This, the first post, is about a wonderful speech by an Olympic athlete that I heard earlier this year. The second, which I’ll post later on, is about how, while the Olympics are supposed to inspire people to get active, their effects on amateur sport may be making it more difficult for non-elite athletes to do that.

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In June, I had the privilege of hearing a talk by world and Olympic champion curler Marc Kennedy.

This wasn’t the first time that I’ve been at a presentation by a high-achieving athlete. My cynical self was expecting a recycling of the usual themes in these speeches: “work hard”, ”have a dream”, ”fight through setbacks”, ”never give up”. But instead, Kennedy’s speech was a very insightful and honest look at the realities of performance at an elite level  – and a lot of what he said has relevance to work and to life, as well as to sports. These are the points from what Kennedy said that really stuck with me. (more…)

Conferences and Codes of Conduct

Nearly every organization has a code of conduct for its employees. These codes are usually explicit rules about what the organization’s members are and aren’t allowed to do, including the penalties – from reprimands to firing – for breaking those rules. Often there are also statements of the organization’s guiding values and principles, which employees are expected to uphold in carrying out their work or making decisions. But when employees go to professional events like conferences – events related to work but which take place outside the workplace – the rules of behaviour aren’t always as clear.

Behaviour at conferences is something that I’ve been thinking about as conference season is starting for me. Every year, away from the watchful eyes of their supervisors and their human resources department, some people act like idiots. They might do things like ask questions during a seminar or presentation with the sole intention of making the presenter look bad and making themselves look good. Or they might harass other conference attendees, usually at social events, by doing things like looking down women’s tops, making inappropriate comments about how someone is dressed, or uttering racist or sexist insults (I’ve personally witnessed all of these).

Surprisingly, though, many conference organizers are reluctant to crack down on these kinds of behaviours by attendees. (more…)

Changing the Story: A Visit with the Las Vegas Culinary Workers Union

I recently returned from presenting a paper at the 8th Annual Colloquium of Current Scholarship on Employment and Labor Law, a conference that was started by a group of American law professors, and hosted this year by the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Although I am not a lawyer or a law professor, and although there are some pretty significant differences between American and Canadian labor and employment law, this particular conference is always extremely rewarding. The program is very inclusive – people present research at all stages of development, from potential ideas to already published books and articles – so I always learn a lot and meet really interesting people.

There was some excellent research presented at the conference itself, but what I want to talk about in this post is an event that for me, as a Canadian, was (more…)

Is Peer Review Truly Unbiased?

During conference season, when you’re rushing from session to session, peer review is something you often hear about in snatches of conversation as you’re running by. “[Professor X] must have reviewed that paper, otherwise it would have been accepted”. Or “I knew getting in at [Journal Y] was a problem because they don’t like [Theory Z]”.

Peer review can have a really big effect on someone’s academic career, because (more…)

Hackers and Trackers and Slackers, Oh My!: Adventures at MIT’s “Media in Transition” Conference

New trends now start not from exhibitions or publications but from conferences. It was, after all, the 1966 conference at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, ‘The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man’, attended by [Jacques] Derrida and other Parisian savants, that first put the ideas of poststructuralism into circulation in America, where they were developed, institutionalized, and ultimately re-exported to Europe and the rest of the academic world.

(David Lodge, “Through The ‘No Entry’ Sign: Deconstruction and Architecture”)

The start of May is usually the start of my academic conference season, and as my previous post indicated, I recently spent a few days in the Boston area. I went there to attend MiT8, the “Media in Transition” conference that happens every two years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The conference is sponsored by MIT’s Communications Forum and the wonderful MIT Comparative Media Studies (CMS) program.

You might wonder how or why someone who works in a school of business administration ended up at a conference that has presentations on topics like slash fiction, snark websites, Farmville, sexting, and reality television. (more…)