The Western Canadian Caucus, an interdisciplinary group of faculty and students at the U of C, held its first session of fall 2002 on Fri., Sept. 27.
The caucus began in the fall of 2000, bringing together University of Calgary faculty and students from the departments of History, Communications, English, Humanities and many others. The caucus focuses on Western Canada through those numerous lenses.
"The idea was to bring together people on campus from all disciplines and to promote this as an area of huge strength," stated Sarah Carter, the caucus chair.
Often, individuals will work in different disciplines, but study the same subject. The Western Canadian Caucus encourages its 55 faculty members and graduate students to discover projects other people work on and to connect with those pursuing similar ventures.
"We want to be able to communicate with and serve our community and show the strengths of our university," said Carter. "We felt there was a need for some sort of forum where we could keep coming together like this. Quite a high number of grad students are on the list."
The caucus provides graduate students an open forum where they can present their research and make contacts with others in their area of study.
Caucus involvement has allowed
many graduate students to steer committees and chair sessions that are part of the larger conventions in which the caucus has participated.
The group has collaborated with the University of Montana in their promotion of Western Canadian Studies, by bringing in speakers and promoting cross-border conventions.
Since U of C faculty have considerable expertise in Western Canadian subjects, one potential goal for this year includes incorporating Western Canadian Studies as a Centre for Research Excellence at the
U of C. A second potential goal of the Western Canadian Caucus is to start a Pre-Print server to enable faculty and students to submit scholarly, non-edited writing via the server to other members of the caucus for constructive criticism. The writer could optionally integrate critical comments before submitting the article to a scholarly journal.
The Western Canadian Caucus has big plans for this year.
"We really feel like there's a community we are already serving," said Carter.
By promoting Western Canadian studies and involving Grad students in their plans and activities, the group intends to serve the U of C, the Calgary area, and beyond.