New lecture series attracts local and international speakers to a campus near you
By Aidan Mouellic, Staff Writer
Douglas College students and members of the public will get the opportunity to enrich their minds with a new speaker series, featuring three lectures from high-profile speakers at the New Westminster campus.
The Students’ Choice Speaker Series, sponsored by Knowledge First Financial, began on February 19 and ends on March 31. The various speakers who are presenting during the course of the series were hand-picked by students and invited to come speak on campus.
The first speaker was social-personality psychologist Dr. Peter Jonason, who is a professor at the University of Western Sydney in Australia. Jonason’s talk focussed on psychopathy, narcissism, and other negatively viewed personality traits, discussing how they benefit men in seeking female partners. Jonason was selected by students in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The other two upcoming presenters are author and addiction treatment expert Dr. Gabor Maté, and former soil biologist and genetic scientist Dr. Thierry Vrain.
Dr. Vrain was chosen by Science and Technology students to speak at the college. Dr. Vrain was once the head of research at a Canadian government research station and was a strong supporter of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Today, Dr. Vrain—who presented at a TEDtalk conference last year in the Comox Valley—has a different stance on GMOs. In his talk at Douglas College, he will explain his arguments against using genetically modified crops and the dangers they pose to our soils and health. Many of Dr. Vrain’s supporters feel so strongly about spreading the message that an online petition with Change.org currently has almost 2,000 signatures in support of his appearing on CBC News to educate Canadians on the matter.
The final talk of the Students’ Choice Speakers Series will feature the well-known Vancouver-based physician and addictions expert Dr. Maté. Dr. Maté has had a strong presence at events featuring issues on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the city’s struggles with poverty and drug addiction. Students in the Faculty of Child, Family, and Community Studies and the Faculty of Health Sciences chose Dr. Maté for the talk. Dr. Maté has written several books and is a frequent contributor to the Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail. In previous years, Dr. Maté drew media attention for employing the Amazonian psychedelic plant-based medicine ayahuasca as a form of treatment for addiction. While several members of Dr. Maté’s trial group reported improvements, in 2011 Health Canada ordered the Vancouver doctor to cease his administering of the psychedelics or face arrest, as even possession of ayahuasca is illegal under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. For his talk at Douglas College, Dr. Maté will discuss how a consumerist culture focus on material gain influences people’s health.
The Students’ Choice Speaker Series occurs in the 350-seat Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre at the New Westminster campus. The next speaker in the series is Dr. Thierry Vrain who will be presenting on February 26 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. Dr. Gabor Maté is presenting on March 31 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. All talks are free of charge and open to the public.