Big Picture at #congressh: It’s a wrap!

Friday, June 16, 2017

By Gabriel Miller, Executive Director, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Congress 2017 wrapped up on June 2, and I am still smiling from the success of the event. It was my first Congress so I wanted to share some highlights with you and take a moment to thank all those who participated.

It was an incredible week at Ryerson University, with a record-breaking number of attendees: more than 10,000 people! The depth of discussion and exchange of ideas was inspiring, and it left me with a lot to think about in the 12 months before we gather again next year in Regina.

Listen here to an interview about the importance of Congress. 

Congress host: Ryerson University

Thank you to Ryerson University for hosting this important event and finding innovative ways to introduce Torontonians to the humanities and social sciences. Ryerson University programming included an outdoor tipi installation, an experiential refugee hut, a thought-provoking discussion with Cornell West, a tour around its urban farm, and a truth and reconciliation tour in the streets of Toronto. And these are just some examples of the exciting Ryerson presents…programming I took in.

Minister of Science attendance

A major highlight for me was an opportunity to hear The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, address the Congress community when she attended the Canada Prizes award ceremony on May 28. 

“I was pleased the Science Review clearly acknowledged the essential role of the full range of scientific and scholarly disciplines. 'Research in the social sciences and humanities,' it says, 'holds equal promise to help Canada address many of the challenges the nation faces.' I could not agree more,” said Duncan.

“I truly believe that one of Canada’s key strategic advantages is our social science and humanities. Social science and humanities researchers provide evidence for sound policy making and train the next generation of critical thinkers,” she continued. Watch the video here:

Big Thinking

The Big Thinking series featured discussions that were thoughtful and at times difficult. We heard from thought leaders such as Mohamed Fahmy, Olivia Chow, Aja Monet, John Raulston Saul, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Wade Davis.

Next 150 on Indigenous Lands

There were extraordinary discussions around truth and reconciliation. We heard from present and powerful Indigenous women and debated protocols and pedagogies of Indigenous ethics in the classroom.

In a session hosted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), leading scholars emphasized how important it is for Canadians to understand how knowledge within distinct Indigenous traditions is created, honoured and shared.

Marking Canada 150

Building on “The Next 150” theme, Congress organizers planned a series of events focusing both on Canada’s past and future. Among the topics discussed were our national identities and building interdisciplinary approaches to the humanities and social sciences.

Important Announcements

Congress 2017 was our last with Stephen Toope as President of the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences. Mr. Toope has been a driving force for Congress and all of the humanities and social sciences. I am personally very grateful for his many contributions to this sector and to this organization.

At the same time, we welcomed our new President and Board Chair, Guy Laforest, at this year’s AGM. Mr. Laforest is a Full Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université Laval and an acclaimed scholar whose main areas of teaching and research are modern political theory, intellectual history, Canadian constitutional politics, and the theories of federalism and nationalism. Widely published in Canada and internationally, his current work is focused on the reinterpretation of Canadian federalism.

The Federation also expressed its appreciation to Christine Tausig Ford for her leadership as Interim Executive Director of the Federation from October 2016 to April 2017. Thank you, Christine!

See you in Regina!

We’re already looking forward to Congress 2018, which will be hosted by the University of Regina. To find out more about what a great host city Regina will be, read this message from Dr. Vianne Timmons, President and Vice Chancellor, University of Regina. Personally, now that I’ve seen the vast programming possibilities and the tremendous learning opportunities of Congress, next year can’t come soon enough. Thank you to each and every one who was there this year, and I hope to see you at Congress 2018.









Congress of the Humanities and Social SciencesCongress 2017