This is surely an exciting and important time for the most forward-thinking university students to be engaged in humanities scholarship, and community-based and global change-making!

As the incoming Director of the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Humanities at Western, I’m deeply aware of the necessity for students to understand our increasingly diversified and interconnected world and to develop insights that will enable them to forge sustainable responses to complex issues.

At SASAH, we probe the histories and strategies of humanities practices, including the scholarly and community-engaged, to find innovative ways to enable our culture and ourselves to see the world as a place of possibility. Our students are thereby forging creative paths of inquiry that demand new forms of engagement, and renewed ideas about leadership. These are ambitious programmes; guided by the Research Fellows, SASAH students are doing such exciting work –and more.

Speaking personally, it’s an honour for me to be taking up the reigns as Director of SASAH in 2018, following on the brilliant work of Dr. Joel Faflak who has spent five years launching our unique program. Through Joel’s daily engagement alongside students, and their mutual building of bold relationships in the University and the wider community, the vision of SASAH has emerged. Among its principles, our vision acknowledges that students must aim to be ambassadors for a more learned, tolerant, compassionate society. As we know, we are living in a world of many challenges to tolerance and compassion – and even, in some places, challenges to learning itself – so SASAH’s goals and the individual aspirations of its talented and ambitious students are more important than ever.

In our times, we know that the environment; gender, race relationships and decolonial initiatives; and the community, including as it relates to mental health, require our urgent attention. I believe humanities practices offer us great opportunities to engage directly and creatively with such matters so that our work can be, in the best sense, “real-world.” As the new Director of SASAH, I’m honoured to be working in the real, challenging, and exciting world of today alongside SASAH students, colleagues, and our partners in the larger community.

Professor Patrick Mahon, SASAH Director