March 2014


Shining the spotlight on Brock and Niagara at Congress 2014

Jane Koustas, Academic Convenor for Congress 2014, Brock University

It is my pleasure as Academic Convener for Congress 2014 to welcome you to Brock University and the Niagara region this May to explore borders without boundaries.

As host institution for this year’s gathering, we’ve been hard at work preparing a robust academic and cultural program that we hope will be as intellectually provoking as it is entertaining.

This is the made-at-Brock component of Congress 2014. Or what we like to call, “Congress Plus.”

On the academic side, we’re pleased to be hosting several interdisciplinary Canada-U.S. panels that will tackle such cross-border issues as...

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SSH News: Contributions of social scientists, Federation’s 2014 Annual Conference, 2014 Canada Prizes finalists

Last Friday, Chad Gaffield, president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), spoke at Carleton University about whether social scientists have an obligation to solve society’s problems. In a subsequent article about the event, “Contemplating the Contribution of Social Scientists”, Susan Hickman remarks that Gaffield suggested that “we live in “a profound period of change,” [and] went on to say we still have much to learn about human thought and behaviour and it’s essential that researchers collaborate and inter-...

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2014 Annual Conference to be live streamed

Only days away! The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences will be hosting its 2014 Annual Conference at the McGill Faculty Club on Friday, March 28. Can’t make it to the Conference? Good news: you can still catch the day’s events.

The Federation will stream live throughout the Conference here.

The full day event will include panel discussions on the themes of transformations in undergraduate teaching and the future of the PhD. The event also includes workshops on the future of Congress and Big Data, a Big Thinking lecture on "Borders without Boundaries" by Kevin Kee of Brock University, an address by Chad Gaffield, President of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the announcement of the...

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Discovering Congress Expo… one exhibitor at a time

Jessica Clark, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

As the coordinator of the Congress Expo, I have the unique privilege of getting to find out which exhibitors will be taking part in the Expo one at a time. As the contracts roll in, the showroom floor fills up in my mind’s eye. I can see the colourful books lined up on the shelves and the glossy brochures fanned out on the tables. I imagine the welcoming handshakes and familiar conversations that take place in the booths of the long-time exhibitors. I see the curiosity and excitement building at the booths of new ones.

Wonderfully, this year’s Expo is going to be one of the best Congress has seen in a while. Over 50 exhibitors have registered so far...

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SSH News: Humanities Perspectives, FPACarleton Critical Panel Discussion, Imagining Canada’s Future

Humanities on the defensive? Yes. No. Maybe. One thing is for sure, this week has featured insightful reads on the value-added of education and training in the humanities, including:

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Counting down the days to Congress 2014 at Brock University

Jack N. Lightstone, President and Vice-Chancellor, Brock University

We’re now less than 70 days away from the kick off of Congress 2014 at Brock University.

As the days get closer, we’re preparing to showcase Brock’s research and creative communities, our regional partners, and the cultural and natural heritage of Niagara.

Our University’s location in Niagara plays a key role in our identity.

We’re named after Maj.-Gen. Sir Isaac Brock, “the Hero of Upper Canada” who died in 1812 while repelling American invaders just down the road at Queenston Heights.

We were founded in 1964 in response to community activism and bolstered by local financial, moral and political support. Our privileged location in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve...

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SSH News: Innovation, Humanities in the Digital Age, Big Data

Last Saturday was International Women’s Day, so it’s only fitting to share that ideas can be… smart and beautiful! “For years now, the call for more real-looking models to be used in clothing ads has been echoed by women around the globe. A San Francisco-based fashion retailer appears to be heeding that cry this season -- at least in part -- by using PhDs and doctoral candidates instead of fashion models to show off its goods” (CBC News).

While equity and diversity are being embraced in the digital age in this way, ubiquitous advanced technologies are also impacting the pace of innovation and the social sciences and humanities. This week, Bill...

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Building a stronger future for Canadian children and youth through social innovation

David J. Phipps, Executive Director, Research & Innovation Services, York University

On February 24, 2014 ResearchImpact-RéseauImpactRecherche (RIR) and Senator Kelvin Ogilvie co-hosted an event demonstrating the impact of social sciences and humanities research on the lives of Canadian children and youth. We were pleased to be joined by the Canadian Federation of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada at this event.

In his opening remarks to this event Senator Ogilvie commented, “A new language of innovation is emerging, that of social innovation…Research is certainly an important input into social innovation but research alone isn't enough.”  The most successful products, the most effective policies, and the most beneficial community services are developed when researchers, community partners,...

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Transformations in graduate education: the future of the PhD


Does anyone think the current PhD training in Canada is perfect?  If so, they are a quiet minority; re-imagining PhD training is one of the hottest topics in higher education policy. For example, the most popular post last year on University Affairs’ Margin Notes Blog, was “The PhD is in need of revision”.

Considering how to approach PhD training in the 21st century is important across all disciplines, but the humanities face a particularly urgent problem with non-completion rates as high as 50% and only about 20%-30% of graduates finding employment within the academy.

So it makes sense for the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences to explore this issue at our annual conference, a forum for representatives of the Federation’s member organizations, and other...

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In celebration of books

Dominike Thomas, University of Ottawa Press

Every year in elementary school,  my classmates and I would hop on a yellow school bus and travel what seemed so far—all the way across the river!—to attend the Salon du livre de l’Outaouais. It was special, not because we couldn’t find French books in Ottawa—quite the contrary—but because this was an annual celebration both of books and of French culture.  We could forget, for a moment, our identity as a minority French community. We didn’t have to search for the French section, or the French shelf, of the library; all the books are in French at the SLO. You could get lost in the SLO, but you could also lose yourself in all these stories, all these possible worlds to explore, speaking to you in your own tongue.


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Une presse universitaire en cavale

Lara Mainville, Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa

Les PUO au SLO… Loin d’être un amalgame d’acronymes indigestes, ce slogan informel témoigne d’une volonté d’abattre les tours d’ivoire, de s’aventurer au-delà du campus universitaire pour aller à la rencontre de la communauté dans le cadre de de cette grande fête du livre.

Le Salon du livre de l’Outaouais n’a pas son pareil dans la grande région d’Ottawa-Gatineau pour rassembler les petits et grands lecteurs. Bon an, mal an, environ 35 000 personnes franchissent les tourniquets du Salon. Quel meilleur moyen, donc, de rejoindre ces « grands » lecteurs de la région, qui s’intéressent peut-être autant à la fiction qu’à la non-fiction, qui veulent autant suivre leurs auteurs préférés, qu’en découvrir de nouveaux?

Or voilà précisément ce qu’offrent les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa : de la non-fiction, de même que de nouveaux auteurs de fiction, par l’entremise de la traduction. Quatre ouvrages...

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Moving beyond boundaries at Congress 2014

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, along with our sponsors, are proud to host eight top-flight speakers and thinkers as part of Congress 2014’s Big Thinking lecture series.

Our Big Thinking speakers will present forward-thinking research, ideas, and solutions from across borders and beyond “boundaries”. To top it off, all their exciting and enlightening lectures are free of charge and open to the public!

This year’s confirmed lineup includes:


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SSH News: Congress 2017, Canadian Innovation, Imagining Canada’s Future, Big Thinking

Ryerson University has been selected to host the 2017 edition of Canada's largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, which organizes Congress every year, and the university made the announcement on March 6 at a Ryerson event called Humanities: Past present and future., At Ryerson, Provost and Vice President Mohamed Lachemi, President Sheldon Levy, and Faculty of Arts Dean Jean-Paul Boudreau all expressed their excitement at the announcement.


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Alberta shows leadership with billion dollar investment in social innovation

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences applauds the creation of the Social Innovation Endowment Fund by the Government of Alberta.  With an investment of $500 million in Alberta’s 2014 budget, and another $500 million next year, earnings from the endowment will fund projects in three streams: Research and Knowledge; Funding Models and Partnerships; and Prototyping (implementing innovative interventions to address social challenges).

“This is an important initiative by Alberta” said Jean-Marc Mangin, Executive Director of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences “and we are particularly pleased to note that the fund will focus on creative collaborations among the public, private and not-for profit sectors. Through research advances and campus-community collaborations, social science and humanities researchers are ready to contribute to understanding and...

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Concordia Looks Back 53 Years with University TV

Christine Mitchell, Department of English, Concordia University

The Concordia University community will take a peek into its past later this week when its Media History Research Centre holds a screening of two half-hour television episodes produced on the university campus in 1961.

The programs were part of a seven-episode series that was shot live in temporary campus studios and aired on Sunday mornings at 10:00. The episodes featured faculty, students and administrative personnel in mock classroom situations and in dialogue with host Syd Davidson and focused on university life. The program’s topic is summed up in its simple title: University. Campus newspaper The Georgian described the program as “the first English-language experiment in televised education at the university level.”

Today’s audience may be surprised to discover its forebears concentrating on and grappling over many of the same concerns that abound on Canadian university...

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