Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

A new imagination - Catherine Dauvergne and the new politics of immigration

Samara Bissonnette

In an installment of the Big Thinking series for Congress 2014, Catherine Dauvergne delivered one of her newest big ideas yesterday at Brock University in a presentation titled "The End of Settler Societies and the New Politics of Immigration". As a member of The Trudeau Foundation, which was founded in 2001 in tribute to the humanitarian virtues of Pierre Trudeau himself, Dauvergne acts as a pro-bono lawyer, a teacher, and a student of research herself, as she researches a new understanding of the politics of immigration around the world, with particular attention to our Canadian home. As a professor, she imparts advice and assistance to young scholars in her field and maintains the belief that "to really do justice to a big idea, you need time more than anything else", to which she added that "the Trudeau Foundation is a gift of time" to her...

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Being the best research assistant you can be

Terry Soleas

Dr. Michelle McGinn in an extension of her role as the Associate Dean of Research and International Initiatives led a workshop on helping research assistants deepen their engagement with the research process, improve their skillset as well as improve their marketability. The workshop began with a reflective exercise to determine what each attendee knew, wanted to know, and had learned.

Those present participated in case studies, interactive discussions and collaborative activities to explore some common dilemmas, challenges and opportunities often faced by research assistants. The groups then nominated one member to present their group findings.

Being a research assistant, I found the workshop extremely helpful. Some common themes included discussions of what research assistants do, what are the benefits...

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Real world plot-lines and violent media

Jessica Dixon

As a member of the media-obsessed public, I take pride in my expansive knowledge regarding technological developments and other forms of media produced by our digital culture. I have grown up with the re-enforced idea that this mind-set is a good one to have; however, critical-thinker Rose Dyson has dared to ask the question: “is it?”

On Wednesday, May 28 Brock University’s Schmon Tower Boardroom was filled with eager listeners as Dyson gave a keynote address for the Canadian Peace Research Association (CPRA) entitled “Peace building in a digital age”. Focusing on the implications surrounding the over-consumption of violent media, Dyson examined how this could impact on...

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Russian anti-gay legislation sparks critical thought--Sochi and beyond

Liz Smith

Recent events in Russia are certainly at the forefront of a number of important geopolitical conversations. Things that might stand out include: the detaining of the 'Arctic 30' Greenpeace activists, granting temporary asylum to American whistleblower Edward Snowden, as well as the recent military intervention in the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution. Of course, the international spectacle of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games was, indeed, on the public radar, and Putin's enactment of the so-called 'anti-gay propaganda law' immediately before the Sochi Opening Ceremonies caught the attention of the masses. It was this topic that constituted the framework for a vibrant discussion by a roundtable of political and historical experts at Sunday night's Congress panel put on by the Canadian Historical Association (CHA), entitled "...

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Challenging casual homophobia

Liz Smith

How often do you hear “That’s so gay”? What about “faggot”, “dyke”, and “queer”? Here’s a less comfortable question: how often do you yourself use these words? While terms like these permeate our language, they are seldom challenged let alone recognized as a significant part of our popular discourse. Perpetuating this language without rigorous consideration of the connotations it holds is part of what enables a culture of ‘casual homophobia’—something that characterizes our contemporary society, even at times below our level of conscious awareness, and which has detrimental effects for sexual minorities.

Dr. Kristopher Wells, Director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services at the University of Alberta (iSMSS), and Wade Davis, former American Football player and...

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David Plotz – Digital journalism: From scourge to trend-setter

Doug Junke

For David Plotz, the advent of digital journalism has been the best of times and the worst of times, to borrow from Charles Dickens.

Slate editor Plotz addressed Tuesday’s Congress 2014 Big Thinking crowd of 125 at Brock University with his engaging speech, “Fast, cheap and out of control: How the Internet has made journalism  better than it’s ever been.”

But by way of background first, Plotz grew up and still lives in Washington, D.C., graduated from Harvard in 1992 and has been a writer with Slate – an online current affairs and culture magazine -- since its inception in 1996, becoming editor in 2008. Slate has won two U.S. National Magazine Awards.

He has published two books: The Genius Factory and Good Book.

Plotz got his start in journalism by being rejected by 91 out of 92 newspapers to...

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This scientist has been government approved for your safety

Jessica Dixon

Franke James, James Turk, and Dr. Janet Friskney came together within Brock University's David S. Howes Theatre yesterday to speak out against issues that they think should have the Harper Government shaking in their government-endorsed boots. “Eroding democracy: Canada's public science policy in a new regime of governance” addressed the many issues currently found within Canada’s deteriorating democracy.

“There are three warning signs that democracy is at risk in Canada” commented Franke James, author and artist of environmental book Banned on the Hill, “One- The Government targets dissenting...

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Attention future shoppers

Visit for more stories about humanities and social science research supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). By funding state-of-the-art research infrastructure in all disciplines and across the full spectrum of research from discovery to applied, the CFI gives researchers the tools they need to think big and innovate.


The shopping spree of the future will be nothing like the crowded, stuffy gauntlet of today, according to Brian Greenspan, director of Carleton University’s Hyperlab. Greenspan and his students research the implications of a Big Brother culture that inevitably comes about when we live in the cloud. In this podcast, Greenspan takes listeners on a tour of the mall of the future, describing how marketers mine the data we continuously generate through our mobile devices to shape the way we shop. Music: Ambient-M by Antony Raijekov, courtesy of the Free Music...

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Child minding at Congress – Keeping the kids involved

Doug Junke

When it comes to Congress 2014, it’s not all about the adults. There’s a child-minding service for participants’ children as well.

“It’s been a great experience,” says Marie Reimer, Brock University’s special projects and operations co-ordinator. “I’m working with excellent people who are putting the university in the spotlight, Congress 2014 and the Federation (for the Humanities and Social Sciences) as well.”

And the kids?

“The children are responding really well … they seem to be enjoying themselves…. And we’ve had a good response from the parents,” said Reimer.

Thirty-one children of Congress participants were pre-registered for the child-minding service, ranging in age from eight months to 12 years. They hail from British Columbia,...

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The final five SSHRC Storytellers selected

Liz Smith

Important and fascinating research in 3 minutes or less. READY. GO! Out of roughly 150 submissions, the top twenty-five postsecondary students from across Canada gathered at the Congress Centre Expo Event Space yesterday to showcase their diverse research projects in the second annual Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) “Research for a Better Life: The Storytellers” challenge. The aim? To convey the relevance and importance of their SSHRC-funded research, each covering a different societal issue, through a compelling story in a 3 minute segment.

“This initiative is part of a larger ambition to showcase how SSHRC research is helping us understand the world around us towards a better future”, said the keynote speaker.

The success of the Storytellers initiative to pitch a diversity of...

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