The gala was held on Nov. 9 and ended with the selection of the contest winner. Photo: Parker Townes.
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Event aims to demonstrate connection between fine art and social sciences

The Sociology and Anthropology Students Association (SASA) hosted an evening gala that sought to show the artistic side to the social sciences on Thursday, Nov. 9.

The night began with a panel discussion by successful graduates from the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Social Sciences, where they discussed career prospects in sociology and the role of the social sciences in the development of artificial intelligence and automation. With an increase in automation and AI, the panelists reasoned, the social sciences have a responsibility to shape a society that works with AI in beneficial ways.

Photography played a large role in the gala. Angel Li, a fourth-year sociology student and president of SASA, said that photography and the social sciences are more complementary than most would initially assume.

“It’s very relatable, sociologically and anthropologically. Because it’s all about how you look at the world, through which lenses you choose to analyze the world,” said Li. “So photographs allow us to merge what we study in a way that lets us engage with students and profs in a really unique way.”

The event featured a photo contest, and the gala aimed to see the social sciences through an artistic lens, using photography to analyze the inherent complexity and beauty of human interaction. Some pieces criticized the dehumanisation of urban life through bleak images of towering apartment blocks, while others examined the millennia-old bond between humans and animals. The diversity of entries matched the breadth of the social sciences.

Other entrants took a more traditional approach, with recurring themes being globalisation, international inequality, and consumerism. Shots of desolate Botswanan airstrips sat next to frames of modern-day monks and windswept streets. The photo captions provided additional context and allowed browsers to appreciate the work and thought that went into each piece.

The photo contest and gala are only a small part of SASA’s activities on campus. The federated body aims to expand the professional and academic opportunities of sociology and anthropology students through networking and skill development opportunities.

Li believes that students don’t often realize how many activities are available on campus and urges students to take full advantage of the opportunities university life gives them.

“Essentially we are an association that helps students get around campus,” Li said. “So we organize events for frosh week, but we do a lot more than that through the school year. Really we just aim to make things a little more interesting and productive in the community.”

The U of O’s student experience was recently panned by Maclean’s magazine, coming in last place out of the schools ranked. But students might just be looking in the wrong places. Organizations like SASA and other student associations always have activities running on campus if you know where to look.

Photo Contest Winners:

1st Prize $150
– “Monday Monks” by Jayde Lavoie
2nd Prize $100
– “Photograph #2” by Henry Hwang
3rd Prize $50
– “Des enfants Kofán jouent avec une balançoire improvisée devant la pierre Pijilí” by Daniel Alberto Restrepo
People’s Choice Award: $50
-“Rapport’s Rule” by Emma Gignac
Honourable Mention:
– “Instrumental Rationality” by Michelle Deloughery
To find events around the University of Ottawa, including guest speakers, hands-on workshops, and professional development events, visit the uoCal website.