Poster Session at Canadian Association of Slavists Conference Highlights Innovations in Slavic Studies

30 June 2017

A poster session titled "New Developments and Innovations in Slavic Studies" was held on 28 May as part of the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Slavists (CAS), which took place at Ryerson University in Toronto on 27-29 May 2017. The poster session was sponsored by the Ukrainian Language Education Centre (ULEC), which is a research unit of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta (U of A). As pointed out by presenter Daria Polianska (PhD cand., U of A), poster sessions "help build the bridge between disciplines and create an interactive environment where participants and attendees can exchange practices and experiences, as well as enhance the visual representation of their research." Facilitating information sharing and network building, the seven presentations comprising the session explored new initiatives in Slavic programs, including the integration of technology.

Four of these presentations focused on modern-day language learning and teaching. Veta Chitnev (University of British Columbia) addressed hybrid Russian language courses for beginners, explaining how redesigning the course allowed for several benefits, including increased learning-hours and decreased costs of course materials for students. Olena Sivachenko (U of A) discussed a new, technologically enhanced Ukrainian language course for beginners, which employs a blended learning model to maximize students' engagement in and out of the classroom (Podorozhi.UA). Natalie Kononenko and Daria Polianska spoke about digital teaching tools and their team's project "UkraineAlive/Shkola Zhyva," a website created to help teachers instructing on Ukraine (particularly for Grade 3 Social Studies teachers in Alberta). Alla Nedashkivska (U of A) described her open-access e-textbook for advanced students of Business Ukrainian, recently published by the University of Alberta Press (2016). Created with the modern student in mind, Nedashkivska's e-textbook provides an online platform for students to learn business-related Ukrainian-language skills―from how to write a resume and prepare for a job interview in Ukraine to dealing with banks and insurance.

Nedashkivska-who is the acting director of ULEC and a professor in the U of A's Modern Languages and Cultural Studies department- was "impressed with the many new initiatives taking place in Slavic studies across Canada and the US: new courses, ground-breaking programs, as well as exciting new tools and learning resources," noting that she was "inspired by the great discussion, inspiring ideas, and truly hope[s] that we will continue our dialogue at future conferences."

New initiatives in Slavic programs were the topic of three presentations during the poster session. Jane Frances Hacking (University of Utah, Salt Lake) offered an overview of her new course, "Russia and Asia: Expanding Russian Program Curriculum Eastwards." Julia Rochtchina, University of Victoria (UVic), presented on the new Test of Russian as a Foreign Language (TRFL) centre in Victoria, which is the first such centre in North America. Megan Swift (UVic) spoke about the new MA programs in Slavic Studies and Holocaust Studies at UVic; the latter is the first of its kind in Canada.

The first-ever addition of the poster sessions at the annual CAS Conference was well received. Presenters and audience members approved the new initiative and expressed their desire to continue this tradition at next year's conference in Regina, Saskatchewan.