Issues & Experts >  Issues & Experts Archive > Week of Oct. 21-28, 2002

Week of Oct. 21-28, 2002

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Oct 21, 2002
The race is on…With municipal elections only weeks away, incumbents and newcomers to the local political scene are off and running. The prospect of a new mayor for the city of Vancouver has drawn higher than usual interest in the race, with 11 candidates vying for the chance. SFU assistant professor Kennedy Stewart says an increase in civic involvement and greater media interest could effect voter participation in this year’s contests. "The fact is, there will be a change at the helm, and that’s the story," notes Stewart, who teaches in SFU’s new graduate urban studies program. Stewart has spent a decade studying elections and electoral systems and can also look at comparative systems, such as the civic structure of Stockholm, which is the same size as Vancouver but garners an 85 per cent voter turn-out (Vancouver’s is about 35 per cent.) Meanwhile, colleaguePatrick Smith ponders whether the civic vote will result in a "not quite mid-term evaluation" for the provincial Liberals, given cutbacks in health and education, key issues for candidates dealing with the effects of cuts in their own backyards. Smith also says there is much municipal frustration with the slow progress of a forthcoming community charter, and that on the school board front, some candidates will face fall-out from recent non-confidence votes following actions taken by the Minister of Education.

Hooked on horror…Paul Budra’s love of horror invaded his blood as a child. "From my earliest recollections, I would jump at the chance to see triple header bug invasion movies," says the SFU English professor and Shakespearean scholar, who is currently teaching a popular new course called the Literature of Horror. "I don’t know why I was so drawn," he muses. "My parents were very uncreepy people." Budra, who specializes in the culture of film, drew more than 200 students to his first ‘horror’ class two years ago. An opportunity to teach a new upper-level course in English for non-English majors allowed him to resurrected the horror theme. The literary class focuses on all of the classics, from Dracula and Frankenstein to Psycho and Stephen King novels. He discovered that the majority of students, whose fields are as diverse as chemistry and psychology, are diehard horror buffs like him. "Seminars are lively," he says. Budra can talk about the evolution of horror films, how they have changed, and why a lot of horror doesn’t age well.

A new focus on Iran…Fereidoun and Katharine Mirhady are hoping an endowed lecture in Iranian studies later this week is just the start of a greater focus on the region in both academic and community circles. The retired Vancouver doctors say there is a dearth of academic programs on the region and want to raise awareness of the country’s rich history and culture. The lecture is only the beginning, as SFU International is exploring other ventures, such as student exchanges. The lecture brings to SFU one of the world’s most prominent Iranologists, Hamid Dabashi, chair of the department of Middle East and Asian languages and cultures at Columbia University. Dabashi’s lecture will focus on Ferdowsi, one of Iran’s most renowned contemporary poets and author of its national epic, the Shah Nameh. The lecture will take place on Friday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. at Harbour Centre. The lecture is free and open to the public but seating is limited. To reserve call 604.291.5100.
    Marianne Meadahl/Julie Ovenell-Carter, Media & PR, 604.291.4323 mhamilto@sfu.ca