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By Karen Herland
For the past five years, students at the Loyola International College (LIC) have met annually with their peers from the Global Studies Program in Siena College, N.Y. to discuss globalization.
On March 19, students, professors and invited guests tackled the North American Free Trade Agreement. “The agreement is being renegotiated, so it seemed like the ideal subject,” said Adan Suazo, who organized the event.
The fifth Concordia-Siena Conference on Globalization was held at Loyola. Suazo helped organize last year’s conference at Siena College (the event switches between the two campuses) as a student through the Loyola International College Student Association (LICSA), and was impressed by the event. Now, as a graduate and Executive Assistant to LIC Principal Rosemarie Schade, he was able to plan a similar event. “I knew what the students were expecting and how to get their attention,” he said.
Students at LIC are encouraged to look at global issues from a multidisciplinary, multicultural perspective. “Our curriculum cuts across disciplines and Faculties,” said Schade of the college that opened its doors in 2002. Although most students come from the Faculty of Arts and Science, there are students from the JMSB and Fine Arts as well. “They are attracted by the small classes and international perspective.”
NAFTA presented a rich starting point for the conference. “Globalization is a very broad theme, and NAFTA involves many political and environmental issues,” said Suazo. Speakers and participants from both institutions were joined by colleagues from political science, history, economics and communication, all of whom were interested in the impact of NAFTA. “It’s hard to be knowledgeable about everything. I think people were prepared to speak to their own discipline and learn more about others,” said Suazo.
He added that the range of perspectives led to lively debate; such as the one he heard between adjunct professor in political science, William Kennedy, former Executive Director of NAFTA’s Environmental Commission and a student, who felt that NAFTA was weak on environmental issues.
The event also featured speakers such as Thomas Mulcair, member of parliament for Outremont. Having politicians at the conference is an important aspect of LIC, according to Schade. “We want to involve people from outside the academic community who have something to say to the academic community.” She added that in the past union and community leaders have also participated.
Last year’s conference theme was sustainability, and this year, Suazo opted to make the medium the message. Organizers used the event guide available on the Sustainable Concordia website. Care was taken in identifying local caterers and extended right down to the reusable mugs and bags attendees were given. “I really have to give them credit for using the guide resourcefully and creatively,” said Erle Lamothe, Sustainable Ambassadors Coordinator.
“We try to think about good global citizenship,” said Schade, linking the academic and the practical in terms of organizing.