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By Jessica Poulin March 31, 2009

Review: Forum International Science et Société

The annual Forum International Science et Société, was held from November 14th to 16th at Collège Montmorency in Laval. The theme of this year's convention was evolution. Participating students from all over Québec and two groups from Europe, one from France and one from Belgium, had the chance to learn from various academics about the emergence of the universe, life, homo sapiens, civilizations, rational thought and cyberspace.

The academics were diverse in their opinions and their fields, which varied from anthropology to biology to physics. The range of researchers at the event allowed students to receive balanced ideas about evolution and related topics. The presenters stressed that evolution is not a linear but a complex process. My general impression was that evolution is a challenging subject to study and define because it appears to be based on chance. It involves complex processes that humans cannot calculate.

The theme of evolution was a catalyst for new ideas and interesting discussions at this year's Forum as students were encouraged to actively participate with the speakers. The dynamic interaction between students and academics created a true learning atmosphere. Students were given a variety of ideas from multiple disciplines, allowing them to develop new perspectives on the theme. My favourite discussion revolved around the notion that evolution does not necessarily mean progress. This was one idea that bothered many students because it removes the human species from the center of things, from a superior position in the universe. The concept of the human self, as we might normally understand it, was challenged and so was I. In the end I left the event with an understanding that evolution is a difficult subject that can be endlessly explored.

Events like the Forum International Science et Société are opportunities for students to engage with others who share interests in their field of study. At the same time, one also interacts with participants that bring different perspectives from other cultural and educational backgrounds. This atmosphere encourages the student to expand her own perspective and to question any biases she might have coming into the experience. To learn, exchange ideas and socialize in such an environment is an opportunity not to be missed. If you have the chance to do it in the future, I highly recommend it.

Further information:

The Forum International Science et Société brings together CEGEP students and researchers from all disciplines, inviting them to discuss issues of science and society.
http://www.acfas.ca/science_societe/forum/a_propos.html

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