School’s social side starting

2018-09-15

in Daily updates

Orientation week is a nice feature of being in school in September. I don’t really remember what happened at UBC / in the Foundations program / at Totem Park residence in 2001, but during my grad orientation at Oxford in 2005 I met my friend Margaret and in my earliest hours at Wadham College I met Nora and Kelly. At U of T so far I have mostly prioritized Massey College orientation events, since I became a junior fellow the same year I began my PhD. This year I have put a bit less emphasis on Massey (being off the JF list, I don’t get invited to most events anyway) and given more attention to the Department of Political Science.

Yesterday evening the department has its start of term party in the Faculty Club. It gave me a chance to ask Peter Russell about the BC Court of Appeals decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline. Firstly, he thought legislation to aid the pipeline’s approval was appropriate and likely, given the political circumstances of the Trudeau government. He clarified that in an ideal world people would share our green sensibilities and no new fossil fuel projects would be going forward, but you can’t get elected in Canada now with such a platform. Secondly, that led to a discussion of whether democracies are capable of solving climate change. It’s especially concerning when you get a radical answer from an 80+ year old emiritus faculty member, but his view was essentially “there are good reasons to think not, and a lot of political theorists and ecologists have gotten into why”.

After the official departmental do, a loose band of us walked a couple of kilometres to what turned out to be a highly interesting informal party associated with GASPS: the Graduate Association of Students of Political Science. I had some great conversations on everything from the world’s ongoing nuclear arms race to sampling methods in field research. Hopefully I will see some of the new people I met again. It’s a bit uncertain because there aren’t many places and circumstances that bring together a large share of U of T’s PhD students. People in the same classes and preparing for the same exams bond, as do people who always work in the same study space, but it’s quite possible to never develop social relations with the broader membership of MA and PhD students in politics.

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