Moderator profile

Reema Faris shares her PhD knowledge with Philosophers' Café

Reema Faris. Photo by Greg Ehlers.

“I believe in dialogue, conversation, and the exchange of knowledge.”

How did you get involved in Philosophers’ Café?

I knew about SFU’s Philosophers’ Café from brochures and online postings. My interest was sparked because one of my goals as a PhD student is to carry the knowledge I have from the university setting into the community. When I saw a call for moderators, I applied and was thrilled to find out there was an opportunity to reintroduce the program to the Lynn Valley library in North Vancouver. It was a match!

Your PhD research at SFU focuses on the intersection of feminism and pop culture. Where does Philosophers’ Café fit in to this work?

Feminism is often dismissed as irrelevant and unnecessary. I believe that’s a mistake because, no matter what pop culture may say, the everyday issues that feminism tackles affect the lives of people everywhere. I think it’s important to reach out to the community through forums like Philosophers’ Café to talk about these issues, engage with different perspectives and demonstrate the ways in which feminism is integral to a more equitable society.

Do you think social media and the digital sphere have changed community involvement, dialogue and activism, for better or worse?

I think that would be a great topic for a Café! I don’t think we know yet. In many ways, social media and the digital sphere have eliminated nuance. However, they have also provided platforms for voices that society often overlooks, and created new pathways for people to connect. So, can we enhance the good of social media and the digital revolution while mitigating their negative impact? Time will tell. My hope is that we can still find ways to harness the power of this technology in a positive way.

How do you choose your Café topics?

I look for topics that reflect my many interests and where I have some expertise. The key is to ensure that subjects are topical and relevant to a wider public, and that they connect to issues in contemporary society, culture and politics.

If you’re moderating a Café that involves potentially contentious or sensitive topics, how do you deal with this subject matter?

I like to start each Café by introducing myself and saying a few words about my background and my work. I also take a few minutes to emphasize the need to respect the opinions of others and to engage critically–which is not the same as being judgemental. And while I try not to intervene, I will if I feel a speaker is having a negative impact or shutting down contributions from others. My goal is to preserve the integrity of the dialogue by ensuring everyone feels comfortable enough to contribute if they choose to.

What do you enjoy the most about moderating Cafés?

I believe in dialogue, conversation and the exchange of knowledge. Moderating Cafés offers me the opportunity to meet members of the community, share what I know, learn what they know and extend discussions beyond university grounds. It’s fun to think and talk about ideas, and it’s even more fun to do so with a group of enthusiastic and curious knowledge seekers!

“I believe in dialogue, conversation and the exchange of knowledge.”

Upcoming Philosophers’ Cafés moderated by Reema:

Photo by Greg Ehlers.