The Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) conference took place in May, 2016. For those of you do not know or have not heard of CSSE, CSSE is the largest educational conference in held in Canada, in conjunction with the Congress of humanities and social science. For more information, please visit: http://www.csse-scee.ca/conference/
The CSSE 2016 took place in University of Calgary. When I first arrived to Calgary, I was welcomed by beautiful valley. I was very excited about this year’s CSSE particularly - partly because of the amazing keynote speakers lined up in the field of Indigenous Education, and partly because Calgary was only 2 hours away from Banff.
I personally try to make any trip I take to attend a conference trips into a sort of mini-vacay. One of the perks about being a graduate student is that, you get to travel for academic purposes. So why not use the advantage and explore the city and nature near by the conference sites?
So I decided to make a stop at Banff, Canmore and Kannaskis after the conference.
CSSE was one of the first conferences I attended as a graduate student. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to get to know lots of great mentors and colleagues through CSSE. Serving an exec position at Canadian Committee of Graduate Students in Education (CCGSE) and Science Education Research Group (SERG) gave me insights and valuable experience in collaborating with other fellow graduate students and faculty members. For me, CSSE is not only an academic venue to present and learn other peoples scholarly work, but it is also a community.
Particularly, this year, SERG had a keynote speaker, Dr. Tony Bartley (Lakehead University) who gave a talk on the history of SERG. Getting to know the history of SERG community as well as different stories provided by people in the audience was very engaging.
These stories provided by senior faculty members who had been building a community was inspiring, for a “newbie” like myself. The keynote as well as the stories provided from audience walked me to the history of the Canadian science education community that I now am part of. Seeing people that you read on e-journals working in service and creating community was for me very inspiring.
In the end, academic life is not only about your own research and teaching; but also about being a part of a bigger community.
After Keynote session, SERG community headed to a local pub for dinner, where I had an opportunity to hear more stories from senior professors and other faculty members. They gave me funny stories and tips on how to survive academic life and work-life balance. I also had an opportunity with connect with other graduate students from different universities. Our conversations from CSSE are now continuing to this date, giving me new insights on my own work.
Connecting with other fellow graduate students has been one of the important aspects for my academic journey. I remember one of my colleagues saying, “Oh I do not go to graduate students’ presentations. I want to focus on making a connection with faculty members”- Yes, connecting with faculty members is indeed great and important. However, sharing stories and connecting with other graduate students is as important if not more, important for me as the interaction with these peers gives me a new perspective, and more opportunity for continuous conversation in future. In the end, these fellow students are going to be my future colleagues, right?
CSSE in that regard is a great venue for connecting with other fellow students through CCGSE and other opportunity to serve community through grad representatives for different special interests groups (sig).
Also, Canadian Association of Study in Indigenous Education (CASIE) had a “ Kitchen Table” where people could come and rest during the conference and make beads. Here, I learned to how to bead and met diverse people and was given many stories.
The stories have since guided me in my own PhD journey. CSSE is for me, a treasure box. You never know when and where you are going to run into new people, new ideas and stories. (AND FREE FOOD!)
Our own SMERG-ian, Dr. Dawn Wiseman also won the prestigious Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies (CACS) Dissertation award. Her PhD dissertation delved into the integration of Indigenous perspectives. I, too, read her dissertation many many times. It is very insightful and written in a very unconventional and creative way. Congrats Dr. W!
Many different Sigs in CSSE offer graduate students travel bursary and awards. Be sure to check out different sigs if you plan to attend! Next CSSE is taking place in Toronto (Ryerson University). Though I didn’t submit proposal to 2017’s conference, I am still planning to attend CSSE 2017- I can’t miss a great opportunity for learning, sharing and connecting with other students and faculty members across Canada!