President's Dream Colloquium

President Andrew Petter is pleased to announce a “President’s Dream Colloquium” that will bring leading thinkers to SFU and provide an annual forum for intensive interdisciplinary exchange amongst faculty and students.

Each colloquium will provide an opportunity for approved SFU students to gain graduate course credits towards their degree for attending colloquium seminars, participating in pre-seminars and completing supervised research papers relating to the colloquium’s subject or theme.

The choice of each term’s colloquium, and associated responsibilities for its oversight and co-ordination, will be determined through an application process. Applications must propose a graduate course and a six-speaker lecture series that is of interest to, and supported by, at least three university departments.

Most public lectures must take place at the Burnaby campus. One large talk should be held at the Vancouver campus. A talk may also take place at the Surrey campus, depending on the speaker.

At least one faculty member from each department must participate in the colloquium oversight committee. One faculty member will be responsible for co-ordinating the programme as a teaching responsibility and will receive a teaching credit for this work from that faculty member's home department.

Funding for the colloquium will be provided by the President’s Office (up to a maximum of $25,000), and managed by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.  

  • Fall 2019 Colloquium proposals: Closed



The President’s Dream Colloquium will bring six speakers of national and/or international standing to the Burnaby campus to provide a range of disciplinary perspectives on a chosen subject or theme over the course of one term.

The graduate course should alternate weeks between a 2–3 hour class seminar and a free public lecture from each of six guest speakers.

  • The class seminar will allow faculty members and enrolled students to discuss selected writings by the upcoming speaker and/or related writings
  • The free public lectures will be open to the entire community and widely advertised
  • The final class seminar may be organized as a public class to feature student presentations (if the class format allows)
  • Materials on which the public lecture is based may be made available on the Graduate Studies website to the university community in advance of each seminar.

Graduate Course

Graduate students and some upper level undergraduates approved by their departments will be eligible to participate in the colloquium for course credit. Such students will be expected to attend all of the pre-seminars and seminars, as well as to complete a supervised research paper on a topic relating to the colloquium’s subject/theme, and participate in a student led half day colloquium at the end of the term.

Credit will be provided by means of directed studies or other courses offered by a student’s home department, or alternatively by an interdisciplinary special topics course. It is expected that participating faculty will supervise students from their disciplines or will assist in securing suitable supervisors.

Grading for the graduate course is Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, and not on a letter grade. Undergraduate students will receive a Pass/Fail grade.


The schedule for each semester’s seminars and pre-seminars will be set in consultation with the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to facilitate maximum participation by faculty and students.

Please note the following semesterly deadlines:

  • Fall colloquium early application deadline is mid-June, to accommodate senior undergraduates who will register for their Fall courses in the first week of July
  • Spring colloquium early application deadline is in mid-October, to accommodate senior undergraduates who will register for their Spring courses in the first week of November


Choice of speakers, selection of pre-seminar readings, admission of students and assistance in securing supervisors for the research papers will be the responsibility of the oversight committee, and any others whom they choose to add.

Co-ordination of the colloquium will be the responsibility of the faculty member designated in the proposal, who will receive teaching credit equivalent to one graduate seminar for the year in which s/he discharges this responsibility. This may include:

  • organizing seminar classes
  • arranging speakers and travel arrangements
  • preparing readings
  • preparing website content
  • preparing publicity
  • liaising with participating departments
  • admitting students
  • grading students
  • preparing a working budget

Administrative support is provided by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS). Support services may include:

  • lecture/seminar room bookings
  • reservation system
  • expense claim reimbursements
  • website development
  • arranging publicity
  • processing student applications
  • registering students into colloquium course
  • managing the working budget and delivering regular reports

Broadly speaking, the faculty organizer handles speaker logistics and GPS manages most other logistics related to event management.


Annual funding for the colloquium (including costs associated with the six speakers, materials, publicity, administrative costs, etc.) will be provided by the President’s Office (up to a maximum of $25,000) and managed by Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows.

Teaching credit equivalent to one graduate seminar will be provided by that faculty member’s home department, with the cost of teaching replacement shared by all participating departments.

Review and Recommendation

Submissions will be reviewed by the Dean and Associate Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the Vice President, Academic and Provost, and the President of SFU. The President will have the final decision.

Adjudication criteria:

  1. Degree to which the proposal is likely to attract an audience from a range of disciplines.
  2. Whether the subject matter of the proposal is of current interest to scholars, students and the broader community.
  3. Potential for new initiatives to emerge from the proposed colloquium.
  4. Calibre of speakers (both as scholars and speakers).
  5. Proposing faculty members’ scholarly expertise in the subject matter.
  6. Quality of the associated curriculum proposed for students enrolled in the colloquium.
  7. Credit towards major/graduate degree should be pre-approved by participating departments.
  8. Colloquium must be within budget.

Submissions should include:

  1. A title for the colloquium, a description of the relevance of the issue to scholars and the broader community, and anticipated outcome of hosting the colloquium.
  2. A list of participating departments and faculty members, members of the oversight committee (if a subset of the participating faculty members), and identification of the faculty member co-ordinating the programme.
  3. A list of minimally 6 and up to 10 potential speakers, including their titles, affiliations and a short biography (max 1 page for each).
  4. A tentative budget based on current travel/hotel costs (please email to get realistic budget numbers; also available in budget download).
  5. A brief curriculum vitae (max 2 pages each) for each member of the oversight committee.
  6. Outline of the proposed curriculum for students including a potential reading list.
  7. Acknowledgement that credit towards major/graduate degree will be pre-approved by participating departments.
  8. Acknowledgement that teaching credit equivalent to one graduate seminar will be provided by that faculty member’s home department, with the cost of teaching replacement shared by all participating departments.