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University of Calgary welcomes 8,000 researchers to the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences


Largest academic gathering in Canada brings experts together with daily events for the public  

OTTAWA, May 24, 2016 — Canada’s largest academic conference gets underway this weekend at the University of Calgary, running from May 28 to June 3. Congress 2016 brings together 8,000 experts from the humanities and social sciences, highlighting research spanning more than 70 disciplines including education, political science, sociology, women’s studies, history, religion, philosophy, music and literature.

“Hosting Congress 2016 is a highlight of the University of Calgary’s 50th anniversary year and we are proud to welcome colleagues from across the country to this flagship event of the academic world,” said Elizabeth Cannon, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. “Experts at Congress 2016 will present and discuss the latest research on topics that have a direct impact on Canada and our quality of life.”

Now in its 85th year, Congress is a convergence of academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners who share findings, refine ideas and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow through discussions on topics of importance to Canada and the lives of Canadians.

“The world needs the social sciences and humanities now, more than ever,” said Stephen Toope, President of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “The toughest challenges of the 21st century require not one skill or approach, but problem solvers with a broad range of abilities and perspectives. Congress is an important moment in the life of ideas in Canada, where each year the country’s top researchers come together and actively contribute to building a knowledge-based, global society.”

Congress is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and hosted by a different Canadian university each year. The Federation, host university, scholarly associations and partners develop a full week of presentations, workshops, panels, public lectures, cultural events and receptions.

Congress 2016 features more than 5,500 research presentations, 2,000 events, the annual conferences of 73 academic associations and Congress Expo, the country’s largest academic trade show.

Free public events include daily Big Thinking lectures, a Career Corner series, faculty-sponsored Interdisciplinary Symposia and cultural events presented by the University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts.

“On any given day, almost every story in the news is related to a topic addressed by scholars in the humanities and social sciences such as electoral reform, reconciliation with First Nations, integration of refugees into communities and resilience after natural disasters,” said Bart Beaty, University of Calgary English professor and academic convenor for Congress 2016. “Many of the events at Congress 2016 will highlight innovative research across our faculties.”

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the University of Calgary, the Congress 2016 theme “Energizing communities” reflects the university’s commitment to community engagement at local, regional, national and transnational levels. This commitment is rooted in the belief that knowledge and understanding are created through associations of shared values, grounded in respect for difference and diversity among all peoples, from First Nations to new Canadians. 

The Big Thinking lecture series features forward-thinking research, ideas and solutions to critical questions and issues of our time, and takes place every day at 12:15-1:15 pm at the Rozsa Centre on campus. This year’s line-up includes:    

  • Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary – The power of change: Leadership, community and resiliency (May 28)
  • Naomi Klein – This changes everything: Capitalism vs. the climate (May 29)
  • The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin – The rule of law in a multicultural society (May 30)
  • Chantal Hébert – Losing the thread of the conversation: Covering Canadian politics in the social media era (May 31)
  • Leroy Little Bear – Big Thinking and rethinking: Blackfoot metaphysics 'waiting in the wings' (June 1)
  • Jennifer Clapp – Navigating the global food fight: Trade, food security and the battle for policy space (June 2)


About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is the largest interdisciplinary conference in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Now in its 85th year, Congress brings together approximately 70 academic associations that represent a rich spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, history, theatre, film studies, education, music, sociology, geography, social work and many others. Congress 2016 is hosted by the University of Calgary. For more information, visit

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 researchers and graduate students across Canada. The Federation organizes Canada’s largest academic gathering, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, bringing together more than 8,000 participants each year. For more information about the Federation, visit

About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is making tremendous progress on its journey to become one of Canada's top five research universities, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.’ For more information, visit Find University of Calgary Congress experts in our media centre at Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary.

Media contacts

Nicola Katz
Communications Manager
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
Cell: 613-282-3489

Don McSwiney
Media Relations Advisor
University of Calgary
Cell: 403-408-9701