Caroline Milliard, Manager, Media Relations at the University of Ottawa
The first image evoked by the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is that of a huge gathering of academics, researchers and intellectuals from different disciplines to exchange ideas and create unique partnerships.
This year, that image will be doubly meaningful since Congress will be held at the University of Ottawa, a crossroads of ideas and culture.
Defy the conventional. This is how the University of Ottawa defines itself. It is a place where bold minds gather to redefine debates and generate transformative ideas.
But what does that mean, exactly?
Here are a few examples of innovative ideas generated on our campus:
Mapping the French language
France Martineau, full professor in the Département de français, is leading the most extensive research project to date on the evolution of French in North America.
Le français à la mesure d’un continent [the French language across a continent] looks at the past, present and future of francophone communities in North America by recording their stories and identifying the distinctive linguistic characteristics of each community.
Close to 100 fellow researchers and other partners from Canada, the United States and Europe are involved, as well as approximately 40 universities from around the world.
The “Google Reflex” is the enemy of deep critical-thinking, according to Faculty of Education associate professor Stéphane Lévesque. Students of history need to be more like detectives, forensically examining original archives instead of relying on search engines.
Ten years ago, Lévesque invented the Virtual Historian, an online library program that houses hundreds of digitized documents, photographs, newsreels and other archival materials. Instead of listening to a lecture, students can follow the timelines themselves to discover how events unfolded. Today, the bilingual site includes packaged modules about the War of 1812, the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the residential schooling of Native peoples, the Halifax Explosion, the life of European Jews in Nazi Germany and more.
Dialogue amidst conflict
When official talks between rival nations or groups reach a stalemate, discrete discussions between retired senior diplomats, former military chiefs and other influential people can offer new solutions. That’s why University of Ottawa Faculty of Social Sciences professor Peter Jones regularly travels the world staging such meetings between former foes, a process known as Track Two diplomacy.
An expert on security in the Middle East and South Asia, and also a leading expert on Track Two itself, Jones is project director of the Ottawa Dialogue, a series of projects that aim to improve stability and communication in South Asia.
These are just a few examples of the many innovative projects carried out by professors, students or graduates of the University of Ottawa.
I invite you to visit the website, Defy the conventional, which features inspiring stories of how the University of Ottawa is exploring new ways to meet the challenges of today.
I also invite you to participate in the series of Interdisciplinary Symposia at Congress, organized and sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President, Research at the University of Ottawa and the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Here you can discover innovative interdisciplinary research and participate in debates on issues of national and global importance in the humanities and social sciences.
Happy Congress and happy idea sharing!
Images: University of Ottawa