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Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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The promise and potential of SFU Public Square

September 24, 2012

After an action-packed five days, I had a chance this weekend to reflect on the success of the inaugural SFU Public Square Community Summit.

As you may know, SFU Public Square was launched as a signature initiative of our new Strategic Vision. (And if not, see the bottom of this post for a lively little video that will get you up to speed quickly!)

That vision made it SFU’s goal to be “Canada’s most community-engaged research university” and, in particular, to be “BC’s public square for enlightenment and dialogue on key public issues … and the institution to which the community looks for education, discussion and solutions.”

In an op-ed in today’s Vancouver Sun, Chancellor Carole Taylor and I consider how last week’s Summit put that commitment to the test – and measured up.  

Delivered in partnership with the Vancouver Foundation, the Summit was designed to stimulate and facilitate engagement on the topic of civic isolation and disconnection. 

The program got underway Tuesday evening with a launch event at the Orpheum Theatre, followed throughout the week by a youth workshop, a libraries event, a public conversation, a dialogue with the business community, a regional mayors’ roundtable, and cultural events that included poetry readings, storytelling, a comedy cabaret and a film festival.

(To get a flavour, check out the One Voice SFU Public Square Music Project and the resulting music video that was played on opening night.)

If you were among the many people who participated in one or several of these events, then I’m sure you'll agree that the quality and extent of engagement we experienced last week speaks volumes about the potential for SFU Public Square going forward.

And if you missed it – don’t worry: SFU Public Square programming is ongoing. I urge you to visit the Public Square web site to sign up to receive details about future events.

The true potential of SFU Public Square is yet to be realized. There are innumerable other issues in need of attention and a supportive forum in which citizens can come together to grapple with them.

SFU Public Square is on track to making that possible.

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