Top Stories of 2016 | Work of Arts
Top Stories of 2016 | Work of Arts

Top Stories of 2016

A look back at an incredible year in the Faculty of Arts

2016 : A most interesting — and at times, challenging — year has come to an end. In the Faculty of Arts, we welcomed new students to campus, celebrated our distinguished faculty, staff and alumni, cheered on our latest graduates and revitalized the conversation around the value of an Arts education. 

We heard and learned from a diverse, eloquent and impassioned group of voices this year. In celebration, here’s a look back at the top 16 stories of 2016!

1. Tandem Language-sharing program comes to UAlberta

Although this list is in no particular order, it’s worth noting that this was our most popular story in 2016, and no surprise —it’s about our students! The Tandem Program is an entirely student-run initiative that is all about building communities and sharing cultural experiences. Co-founded by PhD student Hansy Herrera and Jenny Osorio (’16 MA), the Tandem Program is a two-way model of conversational language learning that pairs up participants who wish to teach their own language while practicing their skills in another. 

2. Up Not Down – the Rise and Rise of Happiness

In January, we published a story about a research paper by Nancy Galambos (Psychology) and Harvey Krahn (Sociology) entitled Up, not down: the age curve in happiness from early adulthood to midlife in two longitudinal studies. This 25-year study generated a worldwide conversation in part because the research suggests that the so-called mid-life crisis is neither inevitable nor supported by the data. In short: as this story illustrates, most of us get happier as we age! 

margaret-atwood3. Canadian Literature Centre hosts Margaret Atwood for 10th annual Kreisel Lecture

On April 7, Canadian novelist and journalist Margaret Atwood visited UAlberta for the Canadian Literature Centre’s 10th annual Kreisel Lecture. For this milestone lecture, titled The Burgess Shale: The Canadian Writing Landscape of the 1960s, Atwood tackled the topic of books and culture in this transformative time for Canadian literature. The transcript of the lecture will be published by the University of Alberta Press in February 2017.

4. Industrial Design student wins first ever Indigenous Graduate Award

In March, Fashion designer Derek Jagodzinsky (’10 BDes) won the inaugural Indigenous Graduate Award, a newly established $15,000 Government of Alberta scholarship intended to encourage Indigenous (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) Albertans who are pursuing or who wish to pursue graduate studies in Alberta. Now enrolled in the master’s program in industrial design, Jagodzinsky is planning to expand his LUXX ready-to-wear clothing brand to accessories, furniture and other fashion and lifestyle products. 

5. Indigenous scholar wins top UAlberta award

Tracy Bear

Tracy Bear

At the 2016 Fall Convocation, Tracy Bear received the University of Alberta’s highest honour bestowed upon graduating doctoral students: the Governor General’s Gold Medal. The combination of outstanding academic standing, cumulative scholarly achievement, and Bear’s English & Film Studies dissertation, Corporeal Sovereignty Through the Praxis of an Indigenous Eroticanalysis, propelled this Nehiyaw’iskwew (or Cree woman) to the top of the graduating class of 2016. 

6. Alumni podcast: Pet Sounds

This summer, we shared some of our great alumni podcasts on WOA blog, which proved to be very popular! Pet Sounds by Sarah Hoyles (’05 BA, Drama),  explores peoples’ relationships (and occasional obsession) with their pets.

7. The nerve of Nermin Allam 

As a new immigrant from Egypt and a full-time mom, the odds were stacked against Nermin Allam when she began her master’s studies at the University of Alberta in 2007. But the political science student defied societal pressures to pursue her dream of a PhD, graduating in 2016 with an armful of prestigious awards and accolades. 


Nermin Allam

8. Student Voices! Our Work of Arts (WOA) student bloggers have contributed some of our most popular and insightful stories this year. In these two posts by political Science student Jeremiah Ellis, student mental health issues and resources and the superficial glitz of Valentine’s Day are explored. Indigenous blogger Tarene Thomas discusses how stereotypes prevent progress in “Well, you’re not like them”and guest blogger Aryan Karimi, a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology, considers whether the attack in Orlando Florida was an attack on the gay community or a statement on foreign policy.  

9. “Hold us to account in living up to the greater country I believe we can become.”

As part of a Faculty of Arts’ “Truth and Reconciliation, Good Relations, and Indigenizing the Academy,” series of events in October, Marie Wilson, recent Order of Canada appointee and one of three Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, spoke to an emotional audience about her six and a half years on the TRC, where she was witness to the testimony of more than 7,000 former residential school students.

10. A Celebration of Excellence in the Faculty of Arts

Arts staff and faculty gathered in May at the annual Arts Awards Night in celebration of the 60 Arts faculty, staff and students who were recognized for their achievements in teaching, research and staff excellence.

Shannon Ford Bison Night

Shannon Ford “Bison Night” – Heritage Art Series

11. Anthropologist Todd Kristensen brings Alberta’s archeology to life

Kristensen’s Heritage Art Series mixes art and storytelling to uncover Alberta’s fascinating archeological history.  

12. Mamma Mia (Queer) I Go Again

Modern Languages & Cultural Studies prof John Eason teaches Scandinavian studies from A(BBA) to Q(ueer).  Based on a chapter in Eason’s dissertation, the popular course seeks to understand the group within its cultural and sociological context. 

13. When words fall short 

Ethnomusicologist Daya Madhur uses fine arts, in particular music, to transform lives. (Incidentally, she is also featured on the cover of our Faculty of Arts highlights booklet!) 

14. Ensuring every voice is heard

Political science professor Malinda S. Smith is re-framing how we look at issues of equity. As part of this, she also regularly “calls attention to (and calls out) bias, diversity failures and civil rights issues” on her Twitter account, recently named as one of 12 academic accounts to follow by University Affairs

15. How radicalized are Canada’s prisons?

Sociologists Kevin Haggerty and Sandra Bucerius are partnering on an unprecedented study looking at the state of radicalization in Canada’s correctional facilities. 

16. The criminalization of Indigenous peoples: where do we go from here?

Women’s & Gender Studies guest speaker Linda Monchalin offered her perspective on ongoing Aboriginal injustices at the Annual Dallas Cullen Lecture. 


Thank you to all those who contributed stories this year, and especially to our Faculty of Arts news-makers, art-makers and change-makers, who unfailingly bring their expertise, creativity and passion to the world stage.  

HAPPY 2017!

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