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Scott Strasser

Mount Royal University course attracts several political guest lecturers

By Scott Strasser, November 1 2016 —

While Alberta-based politicians Rick Fraser, Brian Malkinson, Derek Fildebrandt and David Khan all show different political stripes, there’s one thing they have in common — all are guest lecturers in a first-year general studies course at Mount Royal University this fall.

GNED 1102-019 “Controversies in Science” at MRU explores how mathematics and science impact politics and the economy. Some of the course’s topics this semester include the New Democratic Party’s plan for a carbon tax in Alberta and the application of nanoparticles in cancer treatment.

“One thing which is really important is that we wanted to show students how there is overlap between natural science and social science,” course instructor Mandana Sobhanzadeh said. “When you talk about physics, you may think there are lots of facts and no controversies. [But] you need to have an open mind. You need to question your knowledge and the knowledge presented to you in any field.”

Even though GNED 1102-019 focuses on science, the course features several guest lectures from representatives of provincial and federal politics.

Alberta Liberal Party executive vice-president David Khan was the course’s guest lecturer on Oct. 27. He spoke about his career in politics, before lecturing on climate change, the NDP’s carbon tax and power-purchase agreements between power producers and governments in Alberta — commonly referred to as the “Enron clause.”

Khan said he’s glad the course invites guest speakers from all sides of the political spectrum to present their opinions on scientific matters.

“I think politics forms the backbone of our society, [so] it’s important to get involved and understand more about politics and what’s happening in the legislature,” he said. “Especially in Alberta these days, things are in flux in the political sphere and it’s important to get students started early on in getting involved or at least being more aware of what’s going on in their own province.”

Lucas Mardones is a first-year open studies student at MRU enrolled in GNED 1102-019. He said it’s interesting to learn the different political perspectives to various scientific issues.

“There’s different arguments to each side, and making sure you get a lot of information before you have an educated conclusion, that’s interesting,” he said. “Reading the paper, you might not understand as much or get all the information. But seeing all these people and how vastly different their opinions are on how everything works, it’s very important.”

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