#PublicInterest Lecture Series

In its fourth year, the #PublicInterest speaker series at the London Public Library brings cutting-edge research by scholars from FIMS out of the academy and into the community. This series is a key component of the FIMS commitment to engagement in the public sphere. Each of the talks highlights innovative and exciting research going on in FIMS, presented by faculty members and students who are passionate about their work.

Everyone is welcome to attend these lectures.


Fall 2017 / Winter 2018 Semesters

Re-Envisioning Contemplation in an Age of Overload

Ajit Pyati
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
London Public Library, Masonville Branch
30 North Centre Rd.

Most of us are aware from our own personal experience about the realities of information overload, increasing levels of stress, and burnout. With this in mind, there is growing interest in understanding how contemplative practices (both in their traditional and modernized forms) can help us deal with these maladies of the information age. However, is there a danger that these practices could actually draw us further into our own individualized "bubbles” and reinforce destructive cycles of consumerism? Or can they still offer effective strategies for creating meaningful change at both a personal and collective level?

Harold Innis on Canada

Edward Comor
Thursday, October 19, 2017
7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
FIMS & Nursing Building Rm. 1220
Western University

A Canada 150 Event.

To Harold Innis, Canada was an important and tragic place. A veteran of the First World War and the country’s most prodigious intellectual during the Second, by 1945 Innis was as disturbed by his country’s nationalism as he was driven forward by the potentialities of its culture. Known today for his analysis of Canadian economic development and his theories concerning media and communications, a little known part of Innis’ legacy is his understanding of the unique position of Canada in modern civilization and, paradoxically, his deep pessimism regarding the nation’s future. In this presentation, these and other seemingly contradictory aspects of Innis’ life, and the salience of his work for Canadians sixty-five years after his death, will be explored.

Family Violence and Mental Health: Mobilizing Knowledge to Effect Change

Nadine Wathen
Monday, November 27, 2017
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
London Public Library, Central Branch
251 Dundas St.

Family violence is a "wicked problem" - a social problem that is difficult (or impossible) to solve due to one or more of: knowledge gaps or contradictions, multiple stakeholders and positions, large economic burden, and the interconnected of violence with other problems, especially mental health and health inequities. Effective knowledge mobilization (KMob) strategies are largely driven by context - what knowledge is needed? where, how and by whom will it be used? to what specific effect? Drawing on experiences from multiple projects, Dr. Wathen will outline "lessons learned" from KMob to address gaps in family violence policy and practice.

Teens and Cigarettes: How Marketers Targeted Youth in the 70's and 80's

Daniel Robinson
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
London Public Library, Masonville Branch
30 North Centre Rd.

This talk explores how cigarette manufacturers marketed to Canadian teenagers during the 1970s and 1980s, highlighting various forms of advertising, market research, and point-of-sale techniques.  While the tobacco industry’s Advertising Code banned marketing to those under 18, companies nonetheless targeted youths as young as fifteen, because capturing these “starter” smokers was vital to securing long-term marketing success within the industry. 

The Internet of Things: Implications for Consumer Privacy Under Canadian Law

Sam Trosow
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
London Public Library, Landon Branch
167 Wortley Rd.

In providing consumers with devices that communicate directly with each other, the Internet of Things (IoT) promises the benefits of efficient data collection resulting in lower energy costs, improved health monitoring, enhanced safety and other benefits. Yet the collection and reuse of data linked to the personal activities of individuals has implications for security and privacy. As connected devices expand to include more aspects of daily life, the tension between the IoT’s benefits with security/privacy related risks continues to widen. And as the amount of information collected grows, new questions arise about whether current privacy laws are adequate. Looking at the privacy policies of selected IoT products, Prof. Trosow assesses how the IoT fits with Canadian privacy laws. He concludes that the law hasn’t kept pace with rapid technological changes and that significant revisions are needed to adequately protect the privacy and security interests of Canadian consumers.

Reading Among Older Adults: Resistance, Resilience and Pleasure

Paulette Rothbauer
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
London Public Library, Landon Branch
167 Wortley Rd.

Drawing from her interview data and from other published research findings, Paulette Rothbauer will present highlights from her current research into the everyday reading practices of older adults (75 years+). Her in-depth interviews with several older adults who like to read and choose to read show that reading can play a strong role in helping these readers resist stereotypical ideas about ageing and build resilience to the challenges we all face as we grow older. Finally, the pleasures of reading offer several other benefits for older readers that deserve our attention as we plan and develop strategies for care in our families and communities.

The Fog of Cyber-War

Nick Dyer-Witheford
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
London Public Library, Central Branch
251 Dundas St.

From the surveillance revelations of Edward Snowden to the alleged Russian hacking of the US election, and from the Pentagon’s digital attacks on Iranian nuclear reactors to the electronic battle fields of Syria and Ukraine, recent news has been full of stories of “cyberwar.” This talk discusses the realities and myths of cyber-war, the difficulties of thinking about it, its implications for a networked world order and the problems it presents to contemporary social movements.


Past Lectures

2016 - 2017

"Oh Mom! Look it up on the internet." Seniors and Technology: Reading, ebooks, and everyday life
March 30, 2017
Anabel Quan-Haase and Kathleen Schreurs

Abstract: Digital reading technology is constantly evolving and increasing in popularity, including among seniors. Among this group there seems to be a trend towards adoption and acceptance often spurred on by family and peers who offer support and motivation. Many seniors, however, do not feel comfortable or knowledgeable about using reading technology. This talk discusses how seniors engage with reading technology. Our research reveals that, for seniors, learning new technology requires significant effort. As a result, seniors make careful and deliberate choices about the technology they use, carefully choosing technology that fits into and improves their lives.

Community Resistance to Gold Mining in El Salvador
February 28, 2017
Amanda Grzyb

Abstract: Communities in Central America are using new forms of organizing to resist the incursion of mega-extractive projects in their territories and protect valuable water resources. Focusing on resistance to gold mining in El Salvador as an example, this talk asks what Canadians need to know about the role of Canadian extractive industries abroad. We will discuss the perils of trade agreements that favour multinational corporations over local social, economic, and environmental needs; the assassination of Salvadoran environmental leaders; the OceanaGold lawsuit against the country of El Salvador for failing to approve their mining permit; and innovative strategies — such as local mining referenda — now utilized by Salvadoran communities to resist mining.

Naming (or not naming) names: an international comparison of crime coverage
December 7, 2016
Romanye Smith-Fullerton

Abstract: In North America, persons accused of serious crimes can expect to be the focus of intense media scrutiny from the time of the initial accusations until the court verdict and beyond. Their name, address, age, and background all become grist for the public via mainstream news. This is regular practice in Canada, but naming names and providing intimate details about the accused, their children, and their families is not routine in other parts of the world. Why are these journalistic practices different and what do the practices suggest about privacy, the public right to know, and justice itself?

Winning a Gorgeous War: Making War Beautiful Enough to Fight
October 27, 2016
Tim Blackmore

Abstract: Hitler fought (and lost) many wars. Propaganda and media scholars agree, however, that he won the war of images: the Nazi party produced powerful, persuasive, and significant images as they instigated and fought WWII. This talk contrasts the ‘war brands’ created by the United States and Nazi Germany in WWII, and discusses how modern-day images of war reflect the struggle for propaganda power played out in the middle of the last century.

Where have all the reporters gone? Hook-ups and break-ups in the Canadian Media
September 29, 2016
Meredith Levine

Abstract: In 2008, Canadian journalist Don Martin published, in two major Canadian papers and dozens of online publications, an article that raised serious questions about the character and abilities of fellow journalist Arthur Kent, then running as a candidate in the Alberta provincial election.  In a major defamation law suit, Kent sued both Martin and Post Media. Testimony at the trial was riveting: newsworthy, consequential AND titillating.   But Canadian newsrooms weren’t ‘all over’ the story – in fact, only one media organization assigned a reporter to cover the trial. This presentation examines the reasons behind the silence, exposing the economic realities of media ownership in Canada that influence our news coverage

2015 - 2016

Self-Published Fiction and Public Libraries
March 14, 2016
Heather Hill and Jen Pecoskie

Abstract: This talk will discuss the online self-publishing movement and the various ways public library are engaging with this content. Of particular emphasis are libraries supporting their communities as creators of content as well as libraries who have incorporated such content into their collections.

‘Every Single One is My Favourite’ (Theo, 4 years): Children’s Experiences and Perceptions of E-Book Reading
February 8, 2016
Lynne McKechnie and Kathleen Schreurs

Abstract: Children are tech savvy: they watch videos, play games, and read e-books. Many studies have examined children reading e-books, but most are from the point of view of adults. Our study, supported by an OCLC/ALIST Library & Information Science Research Grant, explores what children themselves think about e-books. The findings will be shared in this presentation along with implication and advice for parents, librarians, and others who work with children.

Language of Deception: Looking at Tell-Tales Signs of Lying
January 27, 2016
Victoria Rubin

Abstract: This talk is a brief overview of what is known in interpersonal psychology about deception and the field of deception detection with an emphasis on the analysis of written or transcribed statements. How often do we lie? How well can people tell a lie? If computers were to spot a lie, what should they be looking for? Are there any tools available to date, and how successful are the machines as compared to human lie detectors?

Dreaming in Dark Times
November 23, 2015
Sharon Sliwinski

Abstract: This talk explores the way dream-life can be understood both as a private experience and as a social text. Sigmund Freud taught us that dream-life is an important form of unconscious thinking. My discussion uses one of Nelson Mandela’s recurring nightmares to explore the political significance of this landscape.

Rhythm, Royalties, & the Blues: 1950s R&B Performers’ Struggle for Unpaid Royalties
November 9, 2015
Matt Stahl

Abstract: In the 1950s, Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, the Clovers, the Coasters, the Drifters and other rhythm & blues singers sold millions of records to black and white audiences. Their innovative performances provided main ingredients for much popular music ever since. However, as they approached retirement age, many R&B singers found themselves ignored and in dire straits, even as their records continued to sell. This presentation will outline the record industry practices of the 1950s and 60s that denied royalties and recognition to R&B artists, and how, in the 1980s and 90s, these artists fought back for cultural recognition and economic justice.

Intellectual Property and MakerSpaces and 3D Printing
September 8, 2015
Sam Trosow

Abstract: The session examines the issues raised by 3D Printing and MakerSpaces in the context of Canadian intellectual property law. Questions addressed include what are the copyright and other IP implications of MakerSpace technologies; and what practices and policies can libraries, museums, other service providers and individual end-users undertake to help take full advantage of their rights under Canadian law.

2014 - 2015

Digital Systems and Human Traces: Uncovering the People Behind Our Platforms
February 10, 2015
Sarah Roberts

Abstract: There is little doubt that the advent of internet and social media technologies has changed our interactions and relationships with - and expectations from - our everyday technologies. Often, we carry our social media platforms in our back pockets, on mobile technology, in a closeness that suggests intimacy: a one-to-one relationship between us, to our platforms, to the world. Yet is the story this simple? In this talk, we will discuss the host of politics and people behind the scenes that suggest a much more complex world where the stakes may be much higher, and much less fun, than we are led to believe.

The Music Cure: Reflections on Music and Dementia
January 13, 2015
Grant Campbell

Abstract: Recent books such as Oliver Sacks’s Musicophilia and documentaries such as Alive Inside have raised popular awareness of the effect of music on the brain in cases of memory loss due to dementia.  But what does this evidence mean for individuals and institutions providing long-term care for those with cognitive impairments?  In this presentation, Grant Campbell draws on his research in classification and dementia, together with his experiences providing music in dementia wards and nursing homes, to reflect on the potential and the limitations of music as a means of alleviating the suffering caused by dementia.

Enter Laughing : Canadian Editorial Art from the Victorian Age
December 9, 2014
David Spencer

Abstract: In the Montreal of 1849 a young Protestant Irish immigrant sat down at a wood carving easel and drew what would become the first editorial cartoon published in this country.  The efforts of John Henry Walker spawned a whole new journalistic industry The cartoon has stayed with us for many a decade. Come and have a chuckle as we take a look at editorial cartoons from our past.