Reflections on the War and Memory Conference at Alexander College


  • Chris Hyland
  • Sebastian Huebel Alexander College


War and Memory, Remembrance Day, Conference, Student Research, Student Presentations


In the spring of 2022, the members of the History Department at Alexander College met and decided to hold a Canadian history student conference in the fall. That summer, the basic parameters of the conference were established: the theme of “War and Memory,” in anticipation of Remembrance Day, was chosen; a select number of students would present their research papers in person; a single keynote address would be delivered; and a question-and-answer session would be held at the end of the proceedings. This Canadian history student conference was the first of its kind at Alexander College and few institutional precedents were available. The rationale for holding the student conference was based on four interconnected premises. First, as international students, the learners at Alexander College know little about Canadian cultures. Second, the research projects and conference proceedings would help students develop transferable skills—research, analyzing evidence, public speaking—that are highly desirable in the modern workplace. Third, students at Alexander College know little about North American academic cultures. Fourth, helping students overcome the inherent challenges raised in premises one, two, and three is worthwhile and within our purview as instructors. The student research projects, and conference proceedings also have strong grounding in curricular outcomes. In addition to the celebration and promotion of student work, the undergraduate conference is anticipated to have several other benefits. It would represent a significant opportunity to indigenize our academic endeavours and promote Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) at Alexander College. The conference would also represent an opportunity for “active memory and remembrance.” The research papers and conference would provide students with an opportunity to actively engage with the historical sources, participate in “hands-on history,” and really come to know the lived experiences of Canadian war veterans. The purpose of the proposed PDGIA presentation is to share the collective experiences of the conference organizers. What worked well? What didn’t? Are there any recommendations or best practices going forward? Overall, our presentation seeks to offer instructors/practitioners a new way to motivate students and assess their learning through an innovative research project and student conference.

Author Biographies

Chris Hyland

Chris Hyland is a historian who focuses on the Canadian military and university professoriate. He has worked at Alexander College since 2019 and serves as adjunct faculty at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the University of the Fraser Valley. His latest work on academic secondments to the Department of External Affairs appeared in the International Journal of Canadian Studies in 2017.

Sebastian Huebel, Alexander College

Sebastian Huebel is a historian of modern Europe. He has worked at Alexander College since 2017 and is currently serving as the head of the Humanities Department. In December 2021, he published his first book “Fighter, Worker and Family Man: German-Jewish Men and their Gendered Experiences, 1933-1941.