Posted on March 17, 2009 by Tia Lalani

In the 2009/10 academic year, the University of Alberta�s Augustana Campus will engage in a theme of ‘dissent.’

By Nhial Tiitmamer

If you imagine a society where dissenting voices are suppressed, what you will find are tyranny, cruelty and dictatorship, among other human evils. Again, if you think of a society where there is respect for dissenting voices, what you can get is the existence of human freedom. In the 2009/10 academic year, the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus will engage in a theme of "dissent."

“We would like the Augustana community to consider and discuss the crucial role played by "Dissent" in virtually all aspects of human development,” said Professor Rani –Villem Palo, Augustana Faculty Associate Professor of History and Chair of the Theme Committee.

According to Prof.Palo, there is not any “human endeavor that has not benefited from “dissent.” Human acts of evil such as slavery, he said, have been eradicated because of the role of dissent. He said time tested human values such democracy, human freedom, gender equality and respect for environment have been inspired by dissent.

Dissent is basically about standing up against an oppressive status quo, be it against a company using methods which pollute the environment or a government which dismisses global warming as a hoax. For Prof. Palo, dissent is “all encompassing, timeless, all around us, and is still one of the best ways to move us forward because, as always, there’s powerful resistance to progress.”

The theme will draw speakers across the board – dissenters and non dissenters alike. Prof.Palo said they are considering “a good mix of outside guest speakers and colleagues who will include both dissenters and people who analyze and study the actual idea of dissent and the role it plays.”

Unlike the 2008/09 academic year theme, there will be no particular dedicated theme book.

Apart from speakers, the campus will engage in theme related activities, most of which will come from students.

“We are very hopeful to get more students involved as these theme years/events should be, more than anything, for the benefit of our students. We seek and welcome ideas/suggestions from students,” Prof.Palo said, adding that the members of the theme committee, who include himself, Prof.Anne-Marie Link and Prof. Purc-Stephenson, have been meeting regularly to make sure that the next year theme is interesting.

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