Preston Arens successfully defends thesis

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The quotation in Preston Arens' successfully defended thesis title evokes curiousity: "'To Tidy Minds it May Appear Illogical’: How the Commonwealth Evolved from an ‘Imperial Club’ to an International Organisation.”

Arens' research explores an aspect of organizational development within the "vast and multi-faceted" history of the Commonwealth. His abstract states, "Amidst the Gordian knot of Commonwealth history this thesis is about understanding [the Commonwealth's] organisational history ... on its own terms, rather than as a derivative topic of other fields." Using case studies, "in logistics, membership applications, the Rhodesian Crisis, and Commonwealth technical cooperation," Arens argues that the "process of planning and managing" Commonwealth meetings "shaped [its] evolution ... as much, if not more than the content of the meetings themselves."

Dan Gorman served as Arens' supervisor, and his committee was made up of Waterloo's Douglas Peers and Laurier's Kevin Spooner. Arens' defense was held virtually on June 2, 2020.

Noting that "it is an odd time to graduate with so much of the world on hold," Arens long-term goals are to "continue teaching at the university level," adapt his thesis into a book, and "follow up on some intriguing anecdotes that didn't quite fit in the thesis project." For now, he says he will be "dipping my toes into the realm of heritage conservation to broaden my historical skill set."

Reflecting on his time with the Tri-U program, Arens particularly valued the academic community that formed from "a pan-institutional cohort that welcomed discussion of arguments, commiserated about formatting, and reveled in new sources when you emerge from the archives and cross paths."

Through the years I have benefited from the greater academic expertise and library resources available through the Tri-University Program. My fields were much better tailored, my conference experiences more diverse, and my research better founded than they would have been at a single institution.

The Tri-University's Program's strength is its people and I am grateful to have worked with them.

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