Monthly Archives: February 2011

Crossing the streams

As I have blogged elsewhere, this past year I have added “sustainability education” to my already comically broad set of professional interests. It has been a rewarding experience so far, lots of fun, if humbling at times (moving into a rich field in which I have no formal training whatsoever).

I’ve long thought there are some natural links between the concepts of “open education” and “sustainability”, though when pressed to articulate them I begin to feel those connections unravel. And thus far I have not managed to synthesize these elements in my work at UBC.

So I was delighted that, in addition to providing some logistical support for the Sustainable Campuses NOW! conference happening at UBC this weekend, I have also been asked to lead a workshop on “Social Media and Communication” for some of the attendees.

I couldn’t be happier or more excited to spend some time with campus activists from across the country, and I do feel reasonably confident talking social media. That said, I don’t expect this audience will need much time going over the basics (check out this site from local maven Alexandria Mitchell), and I don’t want to miss an opportunity to push beyond my limits. I am hoping to create a workshop structure that allows for a co-construction of a set of strategies, tools and networks that we will all benefit from having.

That said, if you happen to know of any good models of that mesh social media and sustainability education, or good activity structures that will capture the knowledge in the room… Or if you have any pertinent experiences you’d care to share, I would be keenly interested.

Is UBC “too Asian”? Let’s sing and find out.

Race is often a delicate subject, so when Macleans magazine published an article asking if some Canadian universities (including the one I work for) might be “Too Asian?”, the controversy that resulted was somewhat predictable. What was less predictable was the form some of the response took on. Tetsuro Shigematsu writes a great account:

When Dr. Ray Hsu threw down the gauntlet before his Asian Canadian writing class, there was a collective desire among his diverse students (and I was one of them) to do just that: respond. And to do so as a group.

…There wasn’t the time, nor were we inclined, to ask for permission to shoot on campus. Instead, we snuck into places like the Chan Center and shot footage until we were asked to leave, and then we continued to shoot. Dr. Ray Hsu became an uncanny vision of Michael Jackson standing in front of a whale skeleton at UBC’s Biodiversity Museum. We also recruited offspring.

Dr. Henry Yu referred to this clip as “a new kind of politics.” Dr. Yu had the insight to recognize that in the age of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, angry students carrying signs would not be effective. The audience was online, so that’s where the students would need to fight the fight.

UBC’s Way Too Asian, Macleans

Hard not to love the way these students reframe the debate on their own terms. And it’s freakin’ hilarious.

I’ve watched a number of creative YouTube responses to the Macleans piece, and was also struck by this less elaborate but undeniably persuasive rebuttal from Tina Whoo, another UBC student: