Research and Scholarship Celebrated with KPU’s Arts Speaker Series

Members of the Arts faculty will be presenting from September until April

KPU Psychology instructor Farhad Dastur. (Alyssa Laube)

Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts Wade Deisman says that the purpose of KPU’s Arts Speaker Series is to “boost the profile of research and scholarship at the institution, and make the role that research plays in teaching excellence clearer.”

“What we wanted to do was showcase the variety and richness of the type of scholarship that is going on,” he says. “We will be catering to a wide variety of interests, and our real hope is that once we do this initial round, we’ll see communities of interest form around these.”

A total of 12 Arts Faculty members will be speaking from September until April this year, with KPU Psychology Instructor Farhad Dastur and KPU Philosophy Instructor Wayne Fenske both presenting in September.

When Dastur took 14 KPU students to the Colombian Amazon as part of the third-year Interdisciplinary Amazon Field School last year, he was inspired by the nature, culture, and history of the area. He, along with several of his colleagues in KPU’s Faculty of Arts, will be presenting his findings from the experience as part of the Arts Speaker Series.

“I wanted to share two things with this lecture,” says Dastur. “The first is just what an extraordinary place the Amazon jungle is and why it’s worth learning about and it’s important to preserve it and protect it. The second part, because I’m talking to other professors at Kwantlen, is to talk about the experience of teaching the course to some degree.”

Though Dastur did not do any research as an evolutionary scientist while he was abroad, he does feel that seeing the wildlife there “makes you think about new ideas and makes you understand some of the theories that you’ve been studying, or maybe even question some of the theories.”

“I think going into the rainforest and seeing that whole ecosystem is very important as a scientist because it will inspire you to think of new questions,” he says.

For students, he feels that it’s a powerful way to “deepen your world” and break out of the educational limitations to learning in a classroom.

Dastur will use powerpoint to show attendees photos and videos of the Amazon on Sept. 12 from 11:30 pm to 12:30 pm in the KPU Surrey Boardroom.

Fenske is in “the very early processes of working on a book,” and thought that the Arts Speaker Series was a good opportunity to present some of the ideas that will later be explored as part of the writing process.

He will be offering his insight into human morality, psychology, and intuition as part of “a very interdisciplinary sort of project” with the series on Sept. 28 from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm in the Surrey Boardroom.

“What, if anything, makes good people good and bad people bad? This is a centuries-long debate in philosophy,” says Fenske. “The talk is going to be comprised of some fairly specific issues and research regarding the way people use moral intuitions and the way they explain or defend their moral views or attempt to convince other people of them.”

He’ll be compiling “the exact issues [he’ll] be talking about in the early weeks of September.” In the meantime, he is continuing his research on morality to include not only in his presentation for the Arts Speaker Series, but also the book he is working on.

Attending the event will “allow you to get a taste of some subjects you might never have considered taking a class in, just to see what kind of stuff goes on there” as a student, staff, or faculty member, Fenske argues.

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