Juan Pablo Alperin, assistant professor, and associate director of SFU’s Public Knowledge Project, coordinates of this fall's colloquium.

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President’s Dream Colloquium explores the importance of making academic knowledge accessible to the public

September 10, 2018
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Public opinion on the value of science and research has polarized over the past few years with some governments and politicians discrediting scientists in favour of ideological policies—dubbed the ‘war on science’ by researchers and academics. Even the Canadian government under former prime minister Stephen Harper was found to be muzzling scientists involved in climate change research or other politically sensitive matters.

Rather than hiding away in ivory towers, however, academics and researchers have fought these attempts to silence them and have brought their work to the public through political protests and campaigns such as the March for Science.

This fall, Simon Fraser University’s President’s Dream Colloquium will focus on this movement and the importance of Making Knowledge Public. The six-part public lecture series, beginning on Thursday, Sept. 13, will explore how scholarly research serves and engages the public through topics such as informing government policy, and the role of research in society.

Juan Pablo Alperin, coordinator of the colloquium, assistant professor, and associate director of SFU’s Public Knowledge Project, says it is more important than ever for universities and researchers to assert themselves in the public sphere.

“The academic community needs to reaffirm its commitment to engage with the world through intellectual pursuits,” says Alperin. “By working with and for the public—and by making the knowledge produced publicly available—it is still possible to insert research, knowledge and truth back into the public sphere.”

The series features notable speakers such as John Borrows, a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law, and Robin DeRosa, an open education advocate and director of interdisciplinary studies at Plymouth State University. Jervin West, co-creator of a ‘calling bullshit’ course at the University of Washington, will be the first speaker.

Lectures will take place at SFU’s Burnaby and Vancouver campuses. The events are free and open to the public but require registration. Each lecture will be followed by a networking event and reception.

Visit the President’s Dream Colloquium website for the full list of speakers and dates, and to register.