The humanities and social sciences represent some of the oldest and broadest academic disciplines that continue to provide us with insights about humanity. The study of economics, art, history, law, philosophy, religion, among many others, represents both of our innate curiosity about the past as well as our reflective look to the future, and how we progress and address challenges.
The first Canadian assembly of humanists and social scientists was organized by The Royal Society in May 1931 and took place in Ottawa with sessions at the Chateau Laurier Hotel and the Dominion Room of the National Archives. The meeting established itself annually, and by the early 1950s, it was known as the Conference of the Learned Societies (the Learneds). Today, in its 83rd year, it is as relevant as it was in 1931. The fundamental reasons behind the study of each of the disciplines continue to be shared across the broader faculty of the humanities and social sciences. Initially an exclusively male gathering of senior scholars rubbing shoulders, it has transformed into the largest academic gathering in Canada.
Congress, as it is known today, is now a scholarly environment that cuts across boundaries in multiple ways, by showcasing the value and impact of the humanities and social sciences, being driven by diverse individuals motivated and engaged to discuss significant and emerging research relevant to policy discussions, promoting an interdisciplinary exchange among a ‘learning community’ or students, academics, scholars, policy-makers and practitioners, as well as celebrating Canada’s diversity with universities from all regions of Canada hosting the meetings.
* Image from the Library and Archives Canada of The Hamilton Spectator (1987)