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Concordia psychology professor Roisin O'Connor explores the emotional foundations of student alcohol use

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Jesse B. STANIFORTH Ask people to think of stereotypes about university life, and they'll immediately come up with excessive drink- ing. Yet of the estimated 40 per cent of Quebec university students who binge drink, most abandon such behaviour after brief experimentation. Only some student drinkers develop alcohol-use disorders later in life, but in or- der to help students reduce the risk of developing such conditions, it’s necessary for researchers to determine precisely what differentiates these drinkers from others. That’s where Roisin O’Connor, a professor at Concordia’s Department of Psychology, comes in.

O’Connor, who joined the department in 2009, is a leading-edge researcher studying the underlying causes of substance use among university students. Key to her

research is understanding the foundations of students’

individual incentives for drinking to excess.

“Heavy drinking behaviour,’ O’Connor explains, “is really coming from two different sets of motives. Some people are doing it to have fun and enhance positive moods, other people are doing it to cope with negative feelings.”

In this distinction lies the meat of her research. What she has discovered, following a series of studies that have appeared in a variety of journals on addiction and

psychology, is that there are two types of drinkers that are distinguishable with respect to thoughts about alco- hol and emotional experiences. The first type, who can be thought of as those who are particularly “reward- responsive, looks forward to the pleasure and excitement that comes with intoxication. The second type of drinker, who can be thought of as more “anxiety-prone,” drinks to soothe negative emotions like tension or anxiety.



Investigating personality and cognitive factors central to this latter risk pathway, which is called a “neg- ative reinforcement pathway,” is central to O’Connor’s ongoing research. She describes these drinkers as “indi-


APRIL 18, 2041 | VOL. 6,NO.15 | ® CONCORDIA.CA/NOW




viduals who are inhibited and typically characterized as being in control, but who may also become very disin- hibited when they are emotionally distressed. These are the people who are going to be at risk. The combina- tion of being anxious or inhibited and being impulsive when upset leads them to disregard the negative effects of alcohol.” By ignoring alcohol’s negative consequences, they make themselves vulnerable to continuing danger- ous drinking habits into their post-university lives.

O’Connor’s research is in part concerned with what she terms the “negative consequences” of drinking that students may experience: specifically events such as unplanned sexual activity, driving while intoxicated, involvement in physical assaults (either as aggressor or victim), or decline in academic performance. Perhaps O’Connor’s most startling finding is that those who drink to enhance positive moods encounter harmful outcomes of binge-drinking, whereas those who drink to cope are just as likely to experience negative conse- quences, but without drinking as much.

“People who are more inhibited and anxiety-prone, drinking for coping or tension-reduction reasons,” she explains, “are at specific risks for negative consequences. It doesn’t seem to matter how heavily they’re drinking:




The Rwandan genocide still slashes through the lives of its survivors, including Concordia student Beatha Kayitesi (BA 11). But community support can bring op- portunities for great healing.

Kayitesi survived the genocide and other atrocities that killed 800,000 Tutsi and pro-peace Hutu in approximate- ly 100 days in mid-1994. This year, she was a student in Madeleine Mcbrearty’s Health Promotion class (AHSC 460) in the Applied Human Sciences program. Kayite- si’s mother raised over 20 community orphans, people Kayitesi considers brothers and sisters. Kayitesi ended up coming to Canada via refugee camps in Kenya and Sudan. “Being one of the survivors, I have a big respon- sibility to help those who made it but were not as lucky as me.”

But she lives, at times, with feelings of

shame coupled with | | F

survivor guilt. Last year, her sister Ernes- tine appealed for help Kayitesi was in no po- sition to provide. “She married the wrong guy, someone who had killed over 2,000 Tutsis. Nobody knew this,” says Kayitesi. He killed Ernestine, and then himself. “They left a few kids behind.”

So when her mother called recently, begging for help for another sister, Vivian, also married but “still hungry and at the end of her rope,” Kayitesi knew the best solu- tion would be to get her sister back in school. But who could afford the $500 yearly fee? Enter the students of her Health Promotion class.

AHSC 460 is “about the seven dimensions of health: physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, social, environ- mental and occupational,” Mcbrearty says. Students are asked to change two dimensions of their own health, working on issues as diverse as cigarettes, drugs, drink- ing, debt loads or savings, composting, or focusing on anger or self-esteem issues. It’s a full year course, “very

STUDENT DRINKING ~~ Concordia psychology professor Roisin O'Connor explores the emotional

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experiential. Learning to change the world by changing yourself is a big component of this course.”

During the second-to-last class, Kay- itesi performed a Rwandan dance “she did it to make herself feel better,” says a classmate, Rachel Renaud (BA ’11). Everyone was touched to see her so transformed. Kayitesi knew that AHSC 460 students were supposed to share what was going on in their lives, so she finally told classmate Matthew Riggs about her sister’s situation. “When I told Matthew my feelings, that I would just like to help one person, Matthew told me I deserved to be happy. I’ve

never been a really happy person, the kind who goes to dances and parties.”

Riggs asked his classmates to each bring $15 for Kayitesi’s sister. “I felt they would think I was asking for myself,” Kayitesi says. Instead, Renaud, Execu- tive Director of the Renaud family’s Roasters Foundation and all their phil- anthropic work, arranged for matching funds. Another student, Kelly Wilkinson, works with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and got help from her co-workers there.

At the final class, Kayitesi invited dancers and drum- mers in Rwandan costume to perform again, this time as a thank you. “We raised $1,400 with more coming in,


Rachel Re


Psychology professor Roisin O’Connor examines previously unconsidered risk factors among adolescent and student drinkers.




naud (on the left,) and Beatha Kayitesi (on the right) in their Applied Human Sciences classroom. In the background, Vincent Nsengiyumva and Jean- Claude Shumbusho. | courtesy MADELEINE MCBREARTY

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enough to start an official program with the Founda- tion,” Renaud says. And enough to keep Kayitesi’s sister in school for three years.

The experience was “wonderful, amazing. I didn't know they would be there to help me,” Kayitesi says. “I’ve slept well since.”


They experience the consequences regardless. This may have something to do with how and when they are drink- ing. For example, they may be consuming alcohol very rapidly and may be doing this when they are emotionally distressed.”



This discovery is exciting because it reveals what O’Connor calls “a whole other pathway to problem drinking at this age,” which helps researchers better pre- pare prevention programs to meet the needs of these student drinkers, who may not immediately stand out as individuals who are at risk for problem behaviours.

“We need to slow down the impulsivity of drinking behaviour in the moment,’ O’Connor says. “It’s not that people don’t have all the information about risk it’s teaching them ways to engage that information in the moment when they are distressed and alcohol is available so they can make better decisions.”





Quite the opposite, preliminary study finds. In their eyes, young Canadians are more politically savvy than ever.

Russ Cooper

Young Canadians are the most politically savvy they've ever been at least they think they are.

This is an interesting research finding that’s surfaced from Concordia Political Science master’s student Vin- cent Hopkins.

In his preliminary study, “Confident yet Unmotivated: The New Canadian Youth and Political Engagement 1965-2008,” Hopkins looked at how Canadians aged 18 to 34 perceive their own effectiveness in the Canadian federal political process over four decades.

What he’s found is that the trend of feeling “politically savvy” seeing oneself as able to understand and influ- ence the political system among this age group has generally risen steadily since 1965.

The increase suggests that younger voters are not as apathetic as they are often portrayed.

“Youth aren’t apathetic or disinterested. These days, they protest more, they sign more petitions. Voting isn’t the only way to measure political engagement,’ says Hop- kins, who plans to prepare the paper for publication in 2012.




At the same time, the study found the trend of “politi- cal responsiveness” the sense that the political system is receptive to one’s political/social needs and desires steadily declined from 1965 to 1993, only to begin dimbing following the 1993 federal election.

As voter turnout with this age group reached a record low in the 2008 federal election at 39 per cent, he says the evidence suggests that political parties perhaps are simply failing to connect to the young electorate, an age group that currently tends not to take politicians at their word.

So what’s changed since 1965? Among the possible rea- sons would be more accessible education that’s allowed young people to change how they perceive the system and themselves in that system, says Hopkins.

“When looking historically at voter disengagement, there is wave after wave of bad news. The one bit of good news we found is that more young people go to school, feel more confident, and place more demands on the po- litical system than ever before.”

The information for the study was gleaned from the Canadian Election Study (CES), a repository of survey information gathered for university researchers from ev- ery federal election since 1965.

Of the roughly 400 questions asked on the CES (age, gender, social issues, income, political affiliation, etc.),

Hopkins and his supervisor, Political Science professor .

Mebs Kanji, looked at two for each trend.

For political savvy, they looked at the strongly agree/ strongly disagree responses of respondents to the state- ments, “Sometimes, politics and government seem so complicated that a person like me can’t really understand

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what’s going on,” and, “People like me don’t have any say about what the government does.”

Those who strongly agreed with the statements would be deemed to have low political savvy; those who strongly disagreed would have high political savvy.

For political responsiveness, they examined the strong- ly agree/strongly disagree responses to, “Generally, those elected to Parliament soon lose touch with the people,’ and, “I don’t think the government cares much what peo- ple like me think.”

Those who strongly agreed with the statements would regard government to have low political responsiveness;

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Political Science master’s student Vincent Hopkins. | couRTEesyY VINCE HOPKINS/CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY





strongly disagree would regard government to have high political responsiveness.

Hopkins stops short of saying why the young popula- tion does not actually vote because, “there are no golden bullets to figuring out why people vote or don't vote. It might be that the government has not changed, or that young people have changed and are seeing the system in different terms, but we can’t say for sure. If I knew, I'd be a billionaire.

“Regardless, the idea that young Canadians see them- selves as more politically competent now than at any time since the ’60s, I think is really interesting.”



History professor describes how East African governments

proscribed youth cultural express!


The 1960s saw the civil. rights movement hit its stride in the United States, with African-American culture and politics tak- ing the forefront in cities. The expression of urban youth culture in dress, music, and style became markers of political and social engagement under the “Black is beautiful” banner.

Across the Atlantic in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, government efforts to define an authentically African post-colonial culture led to bans on miniskirts and soul music. The transnational meaning of these indi- vidual expressions is the subject of a new book.

“People all over the world appropri- ated and turned to their own ends bits

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Even shouts of “lights, camera, action,” couldn’t have daunted the students of the year-end MBA marketing class more. Stu- dents in several sections of the Introduction to Marketing MBA course presented their term projects Dragons’ Den-style.

The CBC show features aspiring entre- preneurs pitching business concepts to a panel of moguls with the cash and moxie to make dreams come true. This semes- ter’s Concordia version saw Jordan LeBel, a professor of marketing at the John Mol- son School of Business (JMSB), challenge his students to introduce a new product or item to Canada, complete with business and marketing plans.

It wasn’t a purely hypothetical exercise, LeBel explained; over the years, some of his students have actually been offered cash for their ideas.

Playing dragon-for-a-day were Jason Baxter, JMSB graduate and founder of Al- titude Corporate Coffee Spaces; Thibaud Joubert, Optim Ressources (sustainable development consultants); and Andre Pace, co-founder, Pureliving.ca (natural skin and body care products).

Five groups presented their projects in class on April 7. First up: Alternatives, a line of compact trendy ballerina shoes with carry bag, to be marketed in cigarette ma- chine-style dispensers in clubs, convention centres and upscale athletic venues. For women wearing stilettos who had reached their limit of suffering.

The second group proposed import- ing Ebel Camel Soap, a certified organic

and pieces of globally circulating popular cultures,” says history professor Andrew Ivaska about the impetus for Cultured States: Youth, Gender and Modern Style in 1960s Dar es Salaam (Duke Univer- sity Press 2011). Ivaska’s research suggests that beyond a simple rejection of West- ern styles, these cultural debates reflected tensions over urban and rural, notions of modern and traditional, and broader cul- tural anxieties around gender, generation and wealth.

Ivaska spent seven years of his own childhood in Kenya and became inter- ested in these subjects while doing his doctoral research in African history. He argues that the above tensions reflected a conservative impulse shared between

colonial and post-colonial governments.

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eco-friendly Jordanian soap made with in- gredients that include aloe vera, honey, mint, olive oil and camel milk. “Comes with its own innovative soap dish that will accentuate your decor.” Tutormarketspace.com, group three, wanted to connect students with tutors us- ing voice-over-Internet protocol, chat and file sharing technologies. “Wherever you are is the classroom your tutor’s a click away.” Potential Montreal market: 200,000+ students at nine local universities. Feed- back and tutor quality control were part of the value added. They proposed charging students and tutors $1 each per transac- tion. Dragon Baxter was in, but with this advice: “This is a great opportunity, but at $2, I see bankruptcy. Tell the tutor, “You can just sit there all day and tutor at $20 per hour. No more searching for clients. Here’s your platform. Oh, and we're taking a 30 per cent chunk of your business.” The ex- tra cash would fuel an expansion to other cities. LeBel summed it up: “The big lesson here is to not sell yourself short. Be more assertive financially.” ° | Group four presented Babyglow, a hot new clothing line taking off in Europe. The baby garments are heat sensitive, changing colour when the wearer’s body tempera- ture exceeds 37 C. Estimated demographic: gift givers to the 231,400 annual urban births in Canada and givers searching for “special, unique and quality products. The psychographic where gifting is important.” Noting Canada’s gift market tops a stag- gering $10 billion annually, the final group presented Legacy Maps, capitalizing on “the desire to offer meaningful, long-

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While women were “burning their bras” in North America as symbols of gender oppression, young

men in a local youth league in Tanzania were burning wigs as symbols of Western decadence.


While colonial interests saw cities in Africa as European centres where African populations served as migrant labour,


as’ Den-style final presentation




lasting gifts that strengthen relationships, a piece of art that commemorates a life.” The idea came from the 20th anniver- sary celebrations for the Richard Nixon

post-colonial governments feared urban centres as potential threats to law and or- der and challenges to official notions of

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Tanya Luongo addresses the Dragons on behalf of her classmates seeking backing to develop a market

Library. In graphic form, a map created for that event showed where Nixon was born, played football, etc. Target markets include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, or a firm’s milestone achievements. The group requested $100,000 for 20 per cent in eq- uity and $80,000 for start-up. There are 140,000 weddings yearly in Canada, 1.12 million smal] businesses, and over 800,000 adults reaching milestone birthdays next year. The plan to include the funeral mar- ket was declared “genius,” by Dragon Pace, who challenged the students about protect- ing their intellectual property and why they wanted $20,000 above start-up. After some hemming and hawing, LeBel swooped to his students’ rescue: “Just say, “Thank you Dragon. It’s called ‘reserves.” That’s how you get out of this sticky situation.”

The winner, LeBel explained, would be chosen by the Dragons, “based on the best overall idea, the ‘idea with legs’ that could

the modern.

Documenting that many of the reac- tions and edicts against clothing, hair and musical styles were particularly directed against women, Ivaska underscores that the post-colonial project also became a site for the playing out of anxieties around female financial independence and chang- ing urban economic opportunities. Many of the campaigns about appropriate office dress had as much to do with who should benefit from office jobs as what should be worn in those environments.

Drawing on earlier studies of post-colo- nial African urban culture, Ivaska offers a fresh take on this period in his focus on the proscriptive side of national cultur- al policy: “The promotional side, while trumpeted, didn’t go very far and was not really funded. What really generated talk were the bans.” Ivaska concludes that this negative reinforcement had more to do with gendered and generational anxieties around the city than a desire to present cultural pride.

Ultimately, his book presents the chal- lenges and shape of “what it means for the state to be involved at this level of people’s lives.”

import eco-friendly soap.

be taken to market right now, as is.” And drumroll, please the winner was Tutormarketspace.com. Congratulations to Atif Ali, Andrew Oliver Gillis, Arhum Nomani, Juan Carlos Ramirez Saldarriaga, and Nikki Roehrig.

LeBel, obviously proud of his students’ work, pointed out that “the Monday night group was equally talented. The big winner there was The 2™ Home, a day- care centre for seniors suffering from loss of autonomy.” The team, includ- ing Stephen Atkinson, Marc Bou Jaoudé, Geneviéve Grainger, Chrystal Healy and Claude Mikhail, were approached by a real estate financier to make their project a re- ality and approached LeBel with questions on how to move forward. He directed them to the expertise of Dragons in the room. LeBel a added: “That’s ‘real life’ coming to the classroom. I love it when that happens.”

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Oral history project finds creative ways to bring memory | Fhe / co ;

oral history and contemporary art. | concorDia UNIVERSITY


Authors and artists are understood to be the tellers of tales and the framers of events.

That one-sided relationship is being reinvented by the dozens of research, creative and community partners in- volved in the nearly seven-year history of Concordia’s Montreal Life Stories oral history project. Currently, the Faculty of Fine Arts (FOFA) Gallery is presenting [in-tur-pri-tey-shunz], an interdisci- plinary group show on the intersections between oral history and contemporary art, featuring some of the Montreal Life Stories partners.

“This has become a deep conversation with artists, because of the large number of artists in connection with the project,” said Steven High, history professor and principal researcher. He spoke with sev- eral other researcher-creators involved in Montreal Life Stories at a round table discussion on Oral History and the Arts presented in the context of [in-tur-pri- tey-shunz], on until April 29.

Montreal Life Stories involves “listen- ing deeply to people from around the world,” according to High. That proj- ect has stretched beyond compiling interviews of Montrealers arriving from sites of conflict and genocide to a mul- tidisciplinary effort about the ethics of interviewing, archiving, authorship and ultimately, how such stories are shared. All of those themes are central to [in- tur-pri-tey-shunz] and were raised at the April 7 discussion.

Ted Little, a professor in the Theatre Department, co-taught a course with High over the last academic year that brought together an equal number of theatre and oral history students. Part of the inspiration for that project came from the comments of psychologist and

playwright Henry Greenspan at a con- ference hosted by Concordia 18 months ago.

“He said we need to move beyond tellers and listeners, becoming partners in sustained, longer conversations,” said Little at the round table discussion.





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Also participating at the April 7 dis- cussion was Pohanna Pyne Feinberg, a graduate student in art history who curated /in-tur-pri-tey-shunz]. Other artists on the panel and in the show included Open Media MFA student Khadija Baker; Studio Arts MFA alum- na and lecturer Héloise Audy; and Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC: Jason Lewis and Skawennati Tricia Fragnito).

All of the panellists stressed the im- portance of allowing individuals to speak for themselves. “The spoken word is so powerful, when you bring it to text you lose so much,” said High.

Baker’s work is influenced by her childhood in a Kurdish town in Syria. She spoke of the challenges of growing up in an oral culture in a context where she was “not allowed to speak or write our language.” Her work often involves recorded stories using “people’s real voices.” Audy echoed that sentiment.




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Khadija Baker performs My little Voice can’t Lie in the Webster Library foyer as part of [in-tur-pri-tey-shunz], an exhibition on the overlap between

In her work, she incorporates other

people’s stories. “Often the tone of voice has more meaning than what they are saying.”

Surpassing the roles of teller and lis- tener, as Greenspan suggested, was the theme of High and Little’s course. The stories and the experience of collect- ing and absorbing those stories were equally important in the two-semester class. The students all moved outside of their comfort zones, in the first term designing interviews and in the second using contemporary dance and _ per- formance to find what Little described as embodied ways to tell those stories. Little stressed that the class was closed, to create a safe, shared space to explore the material without the ethical con- siderations of presentation or public performance.

“The students were expected to intro- duce someone they had interviewed, to walk in someone else’s shoes,” said Lit- tle, setting aside their own expectations in the process.

At the round table discussion, Frag- nito talked about AbTeC’s work with students at the Kahnawake Survival School developing a video game. The intention was to base it on existing leg- ends and stories, “but we kept asking ourselves, what do we do if they want to produce Grand Theft Auto?” The tra- ditional stories also had really complex restrictions in terms of when they could be told and by whom.

Ultimately, the students developed a meta-narrative, taking bits and pieces from several stories. “It was really a bril- liant end run,” said Lewis, “It also made the story a communal project.”

This ongoing collaboration between teller, listener and audience remains key for the ongoing presentation of material collected through Montreal Life Stories.


The Concordia Greenhouse City Farm School is a week-long urban agriculture school designed to equip participants with the skills to build an ur- ban garden, including stakeholder and community engagement, site assessment, garden design, con- struction and gardening tips. Held from Tuesday, April 26 until Saturday, April 30, registration is open until April 21.

Organizers also created a related Speaker Series which concludes April 18: Rhonda Teitel-Payne debates whether urban agriculture can address food security issues and urban poverty from 5 to. 7 p.m. in Room H-765 of the Henry F. Hall Build- ing (1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.). Teitel-Payne is a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council, Toronto Community Garden Network and Toronto Farmers’ Market Network. She was awarded a Vital People grant by the Toronto Community Founda- tion in 2009 and named an Inspirational Leader by the Ontario Association of Social Workers in 2010.

For more information please visit: concordiagreenhousecityfarmschool.com or contact concordiagreenhouse.cfs@gmail.com.




Concordia University boasts one of the most diverse col- lections of public art of any university in Canada. On Thursday, April 28 from noon to 1:15 p.m., Clarence Epstein will provide insight into Concordia’s collection of public art. In his position as Director of Special Projects and Cultural Affairs, Epstein oversees the collection. With the unparalleled expansion of Concordia in the last 10 years, these institutional markers also have become major urban markers of Montreal. The event, titled Public Art at Concordia: Where the University Meets the City, will be held in Room EV-1.615 in the Engineering, Com- puter Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (1515 Ste-Catherine St. W.), a room that already boasts public art on its walls.

Join this lunchtime discussion to hear more about the university’s collection and to have the opportunity to pose your questions about the artwork and the program behind the collection. Participants are welcome to bring a lunch. A short tour of public artwork will follow.

For information, contact Internal Communications at 514-848-2424, ext. 4183.

Each year, nominations are accepted for facilitator of discussion on

the Senate floor.

The Senate Steering Committee will endorse current Speaker

Donald Boisvert to continue in his role.

Members of Senate can nominate other members of the Concordia


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The Youth Action Montreal conference Living Your Legacy: A Summit on Community Engagement, on Thursday, April 28 at the Palais des congrés de Montréal (1001 Jean-Paul-Riopelle Pj.). Youth Action Montreal is a registered non-profit organiza- tion that seeks to inspire, spark and support youth involvement in meeting some of the great challenges they face through annual conferences and special events.

Organizers have lined up three keynote speakers eager to share their knowledge and experience: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Secretary-General to the United Nations, Kofi Annan; Da- vid Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation and an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster; and former Governor General of Canada Michaélle Jean, who will be featured in a prepared video presentation.

The goal of the conference, which begins at I! a.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m., is to bring thousands of student leaders from various backgrounds together to create a movement anchored in the belief that youth can take action and shape a better future. Related exhibitions open at 9 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Tickets are available through Alumni Relations. Admission for Concordia students is $20; for faculty and staff tickets are $55.

~ alumni.concordia.ca/register.

For more on the conference, visit www.youthactionmontreal.org.

Join David Graham for the Provost's second annual address to the community.




Nominations should be submitted to the Director, Board and Senate Administration, Room GM-801.23, Guy-Metro Building (1550 De

Maisonneuve Blvd. W.), no later than 5 p.m. on May 2, 2011.

For complete information on nomination eligibility and procedures,

go to tinyurl.com/SenateSpeaker.

journal . ==

ISSN 1185-3689

Publications Mail Agreement No. 40042804

Tel: 514-848-2424, ext. 4183

Email: cjournal@alcor.concordia.ca



All faculty, students and staff are welcome. Provost Graham will offer some comments,

followed by a question and discussion period.

Return undeliverable Canadian

addresses to: Concordia Journal,

GM-606, 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal OC, H3G 1M8

The Concordia fournal is published during the academic year by Concordia's University Communications Services.

Printed with vegetable-dye-based inks on 100% recycled content paper.

Editor: Karen Herland

Senior Writer: Russ Cooper Concept & Layour Caroline Grainger, Christopher Alleyne

Video Audio Phos


Art therapy to treat post-traumatic stress alisvo)nalclaucianc) aero) paleyent


After carrying guns in combat, soldiers who return from Afghanistan and Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) would do well to grab paint- brushes and pencils. A new study has found that art therapy can help alleviate psychological traumas that come from the horrors of war.

While art therapy as a PTSD treatment has been examined before, no studies have previously investigated its effects on soldiers who participated in military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Ac- cording to a 2008 report from Veterans Affairs Canada, 10 per cent of Canadian soldiers who've been exposed to war zones develop chronic post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Cheryl Miller, who completed her study as part of her mas- ter’s thesis in Concordia’s Department of Creative Arts Therapies.


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positive feelings, externalize difficult emotions and gain insight into their PTSD symptoms, says Miller. “Art-making fos- tered discussion and allowed veterans to show empathy for one another.’

Veterans who took part in the study were 28 to 56 years in age and suffered problems such as insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, depression, sui- cidal thoughts, isolation, chronic pain and interpersonal problems. “All partici- pants had served in the Canadian Forces and experienced various types of trauma,’ Miller explains.

Participants made use of an array of art materials: paints, markers, charcoal, clay, Plasticine and images for collage. “They produced artworks based on themes such as anger versus tolerance, grief and loss versus new beginnings,” says Miller. “The aim was to give participants an op- portunity to express their emotions and to explore their hopes and goals for the future.”

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Miller conducted her research at a gov- ernment-operated veterans’ hospital. Art therapy was offered to PTSD-affected sol- diers twice per week in group sessions, as a conduit to externalize recurring senti- ments of fear, shame and anger. “Through art, participants were able to express

After each session, behaviour observa- tion forms were completed by therapists and nurses. “All staff members noted how art therapy seemed to have a positive im- pact on participants,’ says Miller.

Group dynamics were found to be a major strength of the study. “Through

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Art therapy can benefit soldiers who have seen active duty, according to research conducted in the

Creative Arts Therapies Department.

the process of creating and discussing art with peers, participants were able to open up and express important thoughts and emotions in an atmosphere of mu- tual support,’ Miller says, noting groups appeared to be particularly useful in

addressing issues of avoidance: loss of in-

terest in pleasurable activities, feelings of detachment and a foreshortened sense of the future.

“Art therapy can engage the creative po- tential of individuals especially those suffering from PTSD, says Miller's su- pervisor, Josée Leclerc, a professor in the Department of Creative Arts Therapies. “Art therapy is considered a mind-body intervention that can influence physio- logical and psychological symptoms. The experience of expressing oneself creative- ly can reawaken: positive emotions and address symptoms of emotional numbing


in individuals with PTSD.’

Miller has presented her findings at several conferences, including the 2010 meeting of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Whats more, the program she developed for this study has become a permanent treatment com- ponent at the hospital where it was tested.

With a high number of soldiers who return with PTSD following tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, Miller stresses, creative treatment solutions must be ex- plored. “Individuals with PTSD often have difficulty verbalizing their feelings,” she says. “Art therapy can complement other types of treatment for PTSD be- cause it provides an alternative to verbal expression. Art therapy groups can pro- vide opportunities for peer bonding and appear to reawaken positive emotions in participants.”

Congratulations to the outstanding Concordians honoured at this year’s ceremony for Concordia Council on Student Life (CCSL) Outstanding Contribution Awards and the Concordia University Volunteer Initiative (CUVI) Recognition Awards. Each year, the Dean of Students Office distributes CCSL and CUVI Recognition Awards to Concordia students, staff and faculty who have made an exceptional contribution to student

life or services at the university.

On April 7 at the Loyola Chapel, 25 awards were given to recognize such contributions. Included among the awards: the Lina Lipscombe CCSL Staff Award and the new Louyse Lussier award in honour of two long-serving members of the Concor-

dia community.

At left, Dean of Students Elizabeth Morey addresses the

crowd at the award ceremony. At right are Mechanical and Industrial Engineering undergraduate and CUVI Award winner Soraya Linge (left) and Interim Coordinator of Student Life Al- exander Oster.

The CCSL Awards have been given out annually for more than three decades; the CUVI Awards began in 2009.

For a report on all the winners and details on the awards see www.concordia.ca/now. | PSL PHOTOGRAPHY



Ahandful of art history grad students and their professors were invited to a tour of The Physician’s Eye, a selection of prints and etchings from the private collection of Drs. Jonathan Meakins and Jacqueline McClaran currently on exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA).

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Concordia art history students get a glimpse of the

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The tour was led by Meakins himself, eager to pres- ent some of the high points of his collection to his fellow Concordia students and professors Johanne Sloan and Catherine MacKenzie.

In fall 2010, Meakins returned to school for a degree in art history after a career as a doctor and professor of sur- gery. He held that position at McGill and most recently at Oxford University until he retired in 2008, moving back to Montreal.

He and his wife have been collecting prints for three decades, reinforcing a love of art that had been instilled in him from childhood. “My mother used to take my two sisters and me to this museum on rainy days,” he recalled in the MMFA exhibition rooms where The Phy- sician’s Eye will be displayed until August 21, 2011. He remembered being particularly impressed by Francisco Goya’s Disasters of War, a series of prints then on display in the museum.

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Students inspect the prints in the exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

During the April 6 private tour Meakins discussed how the collection grew from a general interest in art to