It’s not every day that an entirely student-produced book publishes the presentations of an entirely student-run conference. But this unusual book-launch is just what took place in Glendon’s student lounge on April 19 – a celebration marking the publication of Across Borders: Diverse Perspectives on Mexico. The book is a compilation of papers written by some of the distinguished specialists on Mexico who presented at the 11th annual Glendon International Studies Symposium of the same title on Feb. 11, 2006.
Six undergraduate students in their final year, majoring in international studies, formed the organizing committee for the conference on Mexico, featuring seven panels and 20 speakers – 10 of whom contributed to the published volume. The panellists represented a variety of academic disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, economics, history, political science, Canadian studies, Mexican studies and others. Participants included diplomats, academics and business leaders.
The Mexico conference belongs to an award-winning series of conferences that are run and funded by Glendon students. Conference books are also published by students. As in previous years, the organizing committee held several fundraising events in order to pay for conference expenses, the field trip to Mexico, and the costs of publishing their book.
Right: The Mexico Symposium’s student organizing committee includes Karen Campbell (left), Chad Craig, Jessica Perkins, Michael Thayer, Abbey Sinclair and Karen Murray
Each year the symposium features a different country or region of the world, investigating it from many perspectives including political, geographic, cultural and ethnic influences. Previous conferences explored the Great Lakes Region of Africa (2005), India (2004), Russia (2003), Brazil (2002), among others. The 2002 Brazil symposium was a landmark in several ways: it was the first to publish its papers in a post-conference publication; it was also honoured in 2003 with the Student Leadership in Internationalization Award from the Canadian Bureau of International Education. The 2007 symposium held on Feb. 10 was focused on Turkey. The symposia offer unique opportunities for undergraduate students. Within their framework, students take on a different role as organizers of an academic event.
Across Borders: Diverse Perspectives on Mexico was edited by two of the student participants, Jessica Perkins and Karen Campbell. “Publishing the book required a lot of work, but also provided many new insights and interesting things to learn," says Perkins, who was the director of publications and communications for the symposium. “In comparison with the multitude and diversity of tasks we faced [in organizing the symposium itself], the book production seemed like a much smoother process.”
Perkins affirmed the benefits of taking part in the project. “We gained so many skills from organizing the symposium. We were proud of our success in attracting speakers who had a wealth of knowledge about our topic. And they were an excellent match for our audience who were eager to learn more about Mexico.” And she added, “We are very pleased that with the publication of many of the symposium’s papers [in this book], we can now share some of the insights and contributions of that day with a much greater audience.”
Across Borders: Diverse Perspectives on Mexico is available online through the symposium’s Web site at www.mexicosymposium.org. Any profits gained from the sale of the book will be used to support the projects of future events.
This article was submitted to YFile by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny.