Uplift: The Banff School of Fine Arts and the Public University

UPLIFT: The Banff School of Fine Arts and the Public University

How the public university generated ideals of culture and liberal democracy that shaped the Banff School and modern Canada.

PearlAnn Reichwein (Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport and Recreation) tells the history of how the University of Alberta created the Banff School in 1933 to extend adult education as a means of equity and sustainability.

Over its first four decades, the Banff School produced and circulated ideals of culture and liberal democratic citizenship that were intrinsic to the development of modern Canada. From the depths of the Great Depression to postwar prosperity, Alberta’s public university was an enabler and innovator for a hopeful future. An engine of nation building and tourism development, public education and public parks stimulated culture and capital.

Now, a pandemic and climate crisis bring us full circle. We must reimagine and reinvent the arts and education as a way of seeing ourselves and our world anew.


PearlAnn Reichwein is a historian, heritage specialist, and a Professor at the University of Alberta. Her scholarship highlights Canada's social and environmental history, particularly in western Canada and mountain regions. Her new monograph Uplift: Visual Culture and the Banff School of Fine Arts (University of British Columbia Press, 2020) was co-authored with Karen Wall (Athabasca). Her prior book, Climber’s Paradise: Making Canada’s Mountain Parks, 1906-1974 (University of Alberta Press, 2014), was awarded the prestigious Canadian Historical Association Clio Prize.

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We regret that in-person lectures have been cancelled throughout March and April, 2020.

The COP 101 e-conferences will continue as planned.

Sustainability lecture series schedule. Updated 2021-02-18
Date Speaker Time
Feb. 24 Geeta Belas: Bridging the Gender Gap with Design Noon–1 p.m.
Mar. 4 Kari Marie Norgaard: Nature, colonialism and sociology 3 p.m.
Mar. 10 PearlAnn Reichwein: Banff School of Fine Arts 12:30–1:30 p.m.
Mar. 24 Ashley Dawson: Environmental Justice in Pandemic-era NYC TBA
Mar. 31 Kristof Van Assche: Environmental policy and governance Noon–1 p.m.
Apr. 7 Joëlle Saey-Volckrick: Degrowth Noon–1 p.m.

The Sustainability Council’s ongoing lecture series explores local and global perspectives on sustainability, equity and climate action. Hear researchers and practitioners from the University of Alberta and beyond in fields ranging from engineering to ecology, public health to poetry, native studies to nanotechnology.

Steering Committee

The Sustainability Council’s Research Steering Committee guides the selection of speakers for this lecture series.

Meet the Committee