Keynote speaker (Saturday)
In my research, I study cooperation, the reasons for its existence, and the psychological mechanisms that underlie cooperative action. In particular, I focus on costly cooperation and punishment within human groups in social dilemmas such as the provision of public goods. I use an evolutionary psychological framework to generate hypotheses about human prosocial behavior. By using this approach, my research tries to understand when and why people help others, what design features in the brain promote altruistic behaviour, and what selective pressures could have resulted in the brain being designed this way. To do so, I typically use experimental cooperative games involving money (such as the well-known Prisoner’s Dilemma and public goods games) where participants can make decisions that benefit themselves, others, or both. In addition, I am beginning to develop mathematical models (evolutionary game theory) to advance our theoretical understanding of cooperation.
I will be discussing how our evolutionary roots affect our behaviour today, which includes extracting information from the environment (via our past experiences) in order to respond adaptively. This knowledge can then be applied in multiple disciplines to solve complex problems. I will illustrate that using some of my research on cooperation, as well as other people’s research applying these concepts to things like promoting sustainability and fighting climate change. Thus, a knowledge of our evolutionary roots helps us pick the best route for positive change.
Janet Wilson is author and illustrator of over 50 books for young people that have won many major awards in Canada and internationally. Inspired by the philosophy of Gandhi, “To reach peace we must begin with the children”, her last five non-fiction books tell true stories about children from around the world who are activists for peace and non-violence; environmental, indigenous, intergenerational, and social justice. Janet is also a fine artist and paints daily. www.janetwilson.ca www.janetreidwilsonfineart.com
I grew up in Canada during the postwar fifties and came of age in the turbulent sixties, witnessing the rise of the civil rights movement and women’s liberation. Hiroshima and the Vietnam War cemented my pacifist ideals and abhorrence of nuclear proliferation. Early warnings from Rachel Carson of environmental degradation rang loud and clear. A few disappointing decades later, I’m discovering a new wave of activism rising among the youth of the world. Young people are standing up and speaking out for their rights promised in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Many activists had none of my advantages of education, stability, health, and wealth, and yet their voice and actions are changing the world. In my presentation I will tell stories of child soldiers, sex slaves, child brides, and others who have made a difference in spite of their difficult and impoverished beginnings. What can we learn from their success? What qualities do young people possess that propel them forward? How can we keep the youthful fire of passion and hope lit into adulthood?
Dr John Walsh is a Guelph graduate in Classics. He studied for his PhD in New Zealand (University of Otago) and returned to Guelph in 2009. He lectures in the School of Languages and Literatures and the History Department. His research interests include Hellenistic historiography, the Successors to Alexander the Great and the ancient economy.He has published a number of articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries on the LamianWar, Antipater, Leosthenes, banking and debt-deflation in Republican Rome, and terrorism and insurgency in the 4th century BC.
The word ‘university’ implies an aggregate community unified to a common culture by thepursuit and dissemination of knowledge. However, in the early 20th learning’ emerged as a concept amongst the social sciences in response to a notion that a widening gap between the various branches of learning existed. However, what may havestarted as a disciplinary breach may well now be—as the rubric under which this conferenceis convened suggests—a more endemic divide: a true cultural separation. John will discuss how specialization and inter-disciplinary learning and teaching may, and must, co-exist.
Paul Chartrand’s exposure to new and innovative contemporary art practices and artists throughout University has pushed him to find more concise and deliberate means of expressing his ideas. His practice has grown to include installation and video. He has been striving to pare down his art so that the experience is less distracting and the art conveys its message more clearly without being illustrative. He wants to create art that allows the audience to add something of them, art they can relate with and that sparks empathy. One of the main reasons for his creation of work is to evoke a sense of awareness around ecological issues that occur as a symptom of over consumption and apathy. Many of the works including such issues have been partially reconstructed from his memory, which is an idea conveyed through the ways in which he draws and paints; certain areas are focused on meditatively whilst others return to him as a faded memory. The absences at the periphery of these images are what help the viewer to construct their own memory of those situations, because many of the issues he addresses occur throughout the world in varying degrees.
Paul will discuss the main ideas concerned with his work with mushrooms and fungi in his art. This aspect of his practice is what really started his path towards interdisciplinary study. He will describe how his interest in mushrooms began in a biographical sense, followed by examples of his work with mushrooms through the years. Ecosystems became prominent in his work as a medium of their own; utilizing plants, soil, air, water, etc. as a part of the actual artwork instead of simply representing them in illustrational artworks. This approach currently forms the basis of research in his work; he is investigating agricultural systems, food politics, ecology and as always, mushrooms.