Trent’s new lecture series’ celebrate 50 years of excellence


Throughout the year, a number of lectures will take place at Trent commemorating the 50th anniversary. These lectures have been branded under the “Ideas Exchange” and also the “50 Talks for 50 Schools” campaign.

The idea behind the lectures is to engage the community with faculty and scholars in the effort of exchanging ideas, building knowledge and facilitating learning. They will explore a plethora of topics that will appeal to different academic and professional backgrounds.

Arthur talked with Dr. Jocelyn Williams, a professor in the Anthropology department and president of the Trent University Faculty Association (TUFA). TUFA has been an important supporter and sponsor of these lectures. The association was funded in 1966, shortly after the university was established, and was later unionized.

Dr. Williams expressed that one of the association’s goals is to create and maintain a strong and collaborative relationship with the administration, where they work together towards fulfilling the academic mission.

This relationship with the administration is, in a way, key to executing a series of successful events.

Dr. Williams explained that the university had begun to talk about the sorts of things they were doing to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and put out material asking for sponsorship. She added that as the executive committee of the membership, they decided that TUFA would want to sponsor an event.

Furthermore, Dr. Williams added that “we wanted to be prominent sponsors because we felt that as a university the faculty are first and foremost the backbone; so we really wanted to highlight our attachment to our belief in the academic mission: the idea that the goal of the university is to create and to foster engagement, both within the university setting and also within the community.”

TUFA is financially supporting the lecture series, which are divided into two main campaigns: 50 Talks for 50 Schools and the Idea Exchange.

As Dr. Williams expressed, the idea exchange was completely born out of communications. TUFA did not suggest the naming or branding, but they certainly advocated to make an effort to have really well thought out, interesting, engaging lectures involving faculty and visiting scholars.

She added that there were no conditions in the sponsorship except that TUFA did not want the events to go unnoticed; instead they pushed for strong and prominent events. TUFA advocated for events that would also celebrate and highlight the work done by faculty, staff, and librarians.

In terms of the Idea Exchange, specific department faculty choose the events’ topics. Some of them have been created for the 50th anniversary, whereas others are events that already took place and that the communications office brought them under the ideas exchange umbrella. For instance, the David Morrison lecture is an annual lecture in International Development Studies, which this year was branded under the Ideas Exchange umbrella.

Dr. Williams also stated that the 50 Talks for 50 Schools is almost exclusively faculty volunteers, who create the topics on their own. This is a good example of how willing faculty members are to share their research with schools, students, and different generations of scholars.

An important hope for the lecture series is to contribute towards understanding the purpose of universities, and specifically Trent, which is generating ideas and knowledge and creating global engaged citizens, Dr. Williams explained.

One of the main objectives of the lecture series is “showcasing the excellence that is happening at Trent on different levels, in research and in teaching, and that is evidenced by how Trent possesses well funded high-end researchers and excellent teachers that have won national teaching awards and are willing in engaging and giving back to the community,” Dr. Williams expressed.

These lectures are meant to commemorate and celebrate 50 years of knowledge exchange and creation at Trent University. One of the main merits is the fact that these lectures are open to the public, furthering the democratization of education.