Mt. A students across disciplines gathered in Tweedy Hall to for this year’s Atlantic International Studies Organization conference, which spanned the weekend with speeches, discussions, and social events.
Founded in 2003, ATLIS is a student-run organization based at Mt. A that seeks to address international issues. The theme of the conference was, “Challenges to Future World Security: Food, Energy, and Privacy.”
ATLIS encourages the participation of students from other universities. The weekend conference addressed a variety of international and domestic issues, and showcased student research.
“We serve as a platform for students to share their work,” said Sharoni Mitra, the president of ATLIS and an international relations honours student.
Miriam Namakanda, a fourth-year political science student, shared part of a project she had completed for a seminar on Canada and globalization.
“I’m glad I had the chance to talk about something that interests me so much,” said Namakanda, who spoke about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and its perception in the West.
“There are a lot of structural issues that need to be addressed in relation of epidemics,” Namakanda said. “It’s kind of problematic to securities crises instead of actually funding or focusing on ways to reduce the emergence of epidemics.”
Honours sociology student Mollie McGuire also presented at the conference. Her research examined the relationship between Canadian educational institutions and First Nations, and included testimonies of five indigenous students studying in Atlantic Canada and two indigenous elders.
“It was nice this year, because the presentations were really different, but there were similar themes you could discern from them,” Mitra said.
McGuire said in her presentation that East coast universities are far behind those in the West in terms of services for indigenous students. Mt. A is in the process of hiring and aboriginal liaison worker, but McGuire says more university support is needed.
“Not having a space for the First Peoples on Mi’kmaq land is like being homeless on your own land,” McGuire said, who is also an executive member of the Aboriginal Support Group. “It’s our most important goal, but it seems to be what they are most reluctant to help out with.”
Beyond the student presentations, the conference held a panel and keynote speech, as well as social events.
The panel’s theme, combining academic research and activism, prompted ongoing discussion between student audience members and panelists.
“The panelists were really passionate when they were talking,” said Sarah McNeil, an ATLIS executive member and international relations honours student. “It really felt like a discussion between panelists and students.”
Although the number of audience members was low at some events, the planners said those who did attend participated.
“It was a really good quality of audience engagement, and that’s all you can ask for,” Mitra said.