By samanthaorwell on May 13, 2008 - 1:54pm
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Richard Florida is comin' to town
On May31- June8 UBC in Vancouver will be hosting Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences conference. Most presenters will be of the academic variety and will no doubt be spewing jargon left and right (stuff I personally love), but it is worth a look.
One of the saddest aspects of our society is our level of civic engagement. Time and time again it is the same crazies that come out to the type of lectures that inform our policy. It is so important that citizens are there to represent the peoples' voice. Policy doesn't come from nowhere- there are academics and experts whose research informs political actors. A lot of research is good and a lot of research is bad. But most importantly, a lot of good research is misinterpreted and used as justification for neoliberal policy. Subsequently, bad research and misinterpretation of good research is used to justify policy documents such as Project Civil City that takes a clear 'broken windows theory' approach (a theory that makes lay-sense, but is all correlational with no real proof or statistical evidence that physical maintenance and image of a city afffects crime rates etc).
One of the "stars" on the program is Richard Florida, one of my favourite "scholars" I enjoy critquing. No doubt he will go on his spiel again about how social capital and place is more important than ever for the young, bohemian and/or gay. His research is hotly debated. Many critical theorists are in hate with Florida for his cheap sell of correlational research. Some cautiously agree with his thesis, but most agree it is just dirty research. This is stuff you just have to see for yourself people- and expect his speech to be charismatic, one of the important ingredients for good rhetoric (but not necessarily truth).
What UBC is calling "community passes" are made available on the day of for day sessions. So if you aren't a "delegate" or "academic" or invited guest you can take advantage of the $15 community pass to see these talks. These conferences are highly enjoyable, pretentious, and full of food. So go and schmooze with people you don't care about and be a critical citizen so you can be an advocate for yourself and your community.