PHP conference lets undergrads show their work

Taylor Fry, Contributor Ω

TRU professor, Jenna Woodrow addresses conference attendees during the banquet Jan. 18. Taylor Fry/The Omega

TRU professor, Jenna Woodrow addresses conference attendees during the banquet Jan. 18. Taylor Fry/The Omega

TRU held its seventh annual Philosophy, History and Politics (PHP) conference from Jan. 16 to 18 with 59 presenters discussing a wide variety of topics.

Many of the panels, such as “Does Pop Culture Matter” and “The Societal Harms of Pornography,” were standing room only.

Several of the presenters were making repeat appearances, including second-time presenter Justin Potestio, who described presenting his paper on Britain’s anti-war poets of the First World War as being even more nerve-wracking than his first time presenting.

“I felt I had to top myself from last year,” Potestio said.

Leigha Maaskant, one of the merchandisers and volunteer directors of the conference presented on the history of the comic book hero Superman on Friday.

“I felt good,” said Maaskant, “I was kind of nervous because I was afraid there was going to be a lot of people, but at the same time I was glad there was a lot of people.”

She describes the conference as a way to get people’s research out there and to work with professors in a more collegial way. “You feel like you are equals,” Maaskant said.

This year’s conference attracted students from all over, including Mount Royal University, the University of Alberta, the University of Victoria and Central Washington University.

Michael Phillips from Mount Royal University presented his work on the temperance movement’s effect on soldiers during the First World War. He said he knew about the conference for a few years and finally felt he had written a paper substantial enough to present.

The PHP Conference is one of the few undergraduate conferences in Canada giving students a unique chance to share and discuss their research with peers.

“One of the great benefits is that it highlights the fact the bachelor of arts can and should be a research degree,” said this year’s keynote speaker John Lutz, attending from the University of Victoria.

He described the conference as bringing students from different disciplines together in a common project and providing a unity that isn’t seen on other campuses.

Jenna Woodrow, TRU professor and the internal keynote speaker this year, lauded the conference because it focuses on the research done by undergrads. Woodrow added that the conference brings together the different disciples and gives students experience presenting and some new ideas to look into and study across other disciplines.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these students. The caliber of the presentations really are top notch and wonderful,” Woodrow said.