in Culture and Society
Harnessing the Spirit of Co-operation
From left to right: Karen Neufeldt, Patty Scheidl, Nora Russell, Michael Gertler, Roger Herman, Lou Hammond Ketilson (director), Murray Fulton, Lorraine Salt. Missing: Brett Fairbairn
The U of S Centre for the Study of Co-operatives is a world-leading research and teaching institute devoted to studying the contribution and potential of co-operatives in Canada and around the world.
Just as the spirit of co-operation is woven into Prairie culture, co-operative organizations have been integral to the development of Saskatchewan’s society and economy.
With 7,000 organizations and 10 million members across Canada, co-operatives are collectively one of the most important means by which people address the economic issues facing their communities.
The Centre for the Study of Co-operatives is a broadly interdisciplinary group whose mandate includes teaching and research in co-operative theory, principles, structures, and development. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is a major supporter of this U of S research.
Engagement with the community is essential to the Centre’s activities, which draw upon and influence the practical work of numerous partner organizations in the co-operative sector in Saskatchewan and Canada. With its reliance on strong university–community relationships, Centre research affirms the University of Saskatchewan’s commitment to a “sense of place.”
The Centre’s current major research focus is the social economy. A project titled “Linking, Learning, Leveraging: Social Enterprises, Knowledgeable Economies, and Sustainable Communities” bridges urban, rural and remote communities and involves 25 academics in 10 disciplines from 13 universities, along with 53 community partners in Canada, the United States, Colombia, and Belgium.
Benefiting Society– at Home and Abroad
Spearheaded by U of S history professor Brett Fairbairn, a recently completed project—the largest on co-operatives ever undertaken in Canada—investigated how voluntary membership in co-ops has changed Canadian communities and contributed to social and economic development.
Among other projects:
- Centre director Lou Hammond Ketilson, associate professor in management and marketing, is working in partnership with the First Nations Agricultural Council to develop Aboriginal co-operatives in the province.
- Agricultural economist Murray Fulton is studying the roles of boards and management in co-operative organizations, and the challenges of governance in times of change.
- Sociologist Michael Gertler is examining the role of co-operatives in local food distribution and retail systems.
Centre staff members ensure ongoing liaison with partner organizations and the co-op community, and maintain the most comprehensive resource library on cooperatives and related topics in anglophone Canada.
Internationally, U of S faculty involved with the Centre have developed training programs for emerging farming associations in China, as part of an initiative by the Canadian International Development Agency. Other international partnerships include academic, governmental and community-based organizations in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Mongolia.
Dramatizing the Human Condition
From ancient to post-modern times, art in society has examined, questioned, critiqued, and celebrated the human condition.
For U of S drama professor Jim Guedo, the theatre is the ultimate art form, encompassing music, sound, voice, movement, visual art and design, and technology.
For the past 25 years, Guedo has been engaging audiences across the country, as artistic director, actor, director, designer, and teacher. He has worked with most of the country’s major regional theatres, including the Stratford Festival, the National Arts Centre, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Citadel Theatre, Persephone Theatre, and Twenty Fifth Street Theatre.
In addition to Guedo’s expertise, U of S drama students benefit from the strength of a department that has spawned three professional and five alternative theatre companies in Saskatoon alone.
Greystone Theatre at the U of S is the oldest theatre in the province, founded in 1946 by the first university University of Saskatchewan Making Waves 5 drama department in Canada and the Commonwealth. Every year, Guedo stages a large-cast mainstage production at Greystone, one of four presented by the U of S drama department each season.
Guedo’s artistic research also includes several professional productions each year. His company, Wild Side Productions, explores contemporary, provoking work by theatre’s more maverick playwrights.
For Guedo, theatre is not about propaganda, or mere entertainment, but enrichment—an experience that should leave the audience challenged and changed.
Breaking Down Racial Barriers
As the population ages and birth rates decline, Canada has increasingly relied upon immigration as the main source of growth in population and labour force.
New immigrants bring human resources, economic investment and cultural enrichment. Yet all too often, they face social and cultural barriers to integration.
U of S sociologist Peter Li’s influential studies of Chinese Canadians have provided a new perspective and critical framework for understanding institutional racism. More recently, he has expanded his studies to include Asian investment in Canada, Chinese business immigration and entrepreneurship.
In his current research, Li addresses two main questions: Are recent immigrants able to improve their economic status over time? And, why do some immigrants manage to surpass the earnings of native-born Canadians and others do not?
Studies have shown that recent immigrants have lower incomes compared to native-born Canadians than immigrants who came to Canada 30 years ago. Yet immigrants today are more highly educated. His work will provide policymakers with new insights into how best to integrate newcomers to Canadian society.
Li’s contributions to understanding racial and ethnic inequality, immigration and multiculturalism are recognized by scholars and senior policymakers around the world. He was recently appointed by the Governor General of Canada as a director of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. In 2002, he received the “Outstanding Contribution Award” from the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association.
Healing with Music
For most of us, music has the power to change our mood. For Jennifer Nicol, music has the power to heal.
An assistant professor in educational psychology and special education and associate member of the music department, Nicol is exploring the therapeutic benefits of music. As a psychologist, musician and music therapist, she has experienced the healing and transforming power of music from a multitude of perspectives.
Nicol believes that listening to music while alone is not a solitary experience. Solitary listening evokes relational processes that include feeling connected with others. In fact, people with chronic illnesses derive benefits similar to those associated with other social support systems.
By researching the social and psychological effects of music listening, Nicol hopes to improve quality of life for, among others, the elderly and the 65 per cent of Canadian women who suffer from chronic health conditions.