Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences

SSH News: “The Heart of the Matter”, Canadian Studies, & Impressions of Congress 2013

Christine McKenna, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences released a report this week entitled “The Heart of the Matter”, which examines the value of social sciences and humanities (SSH) in the pursuit of a strengthened economy and cohesive society. The report makes recommendations for improving American SSH education, and suggests that in combination with STEM disciplines (the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), a liberal arts education could promote innovation and improve understanding of the contexts in which science-based research is applied. An article in the ...

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One last look back at Congress 2013: My top 7 highlights

Maryse Bernard

I arrived at Congress 2013 feeling intimidated. With a title like “Canada’s largest academic gathering,” it was difficult not to be. Its history of bringing together some of our country’s most innovative thinkers across a wide range of disciplines (Margaret Atwood last year—seriously?), only added to the pressure. Freshly graduated with a BA in writing, I had been hired to cover some of the events for the Federation’s blog. As the impressive conference approached, I prayed to the journalism gods that I was up for the challenge. 


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Congress 2013 delivers big ideas

With more than 7,600 delegates over 9,000 tweets, Congress keeps growing

June 11, 2013, Victoria, BC—More than 7,600 academics, researchers, students and policy-makers descended upon Victoria this week for the 2013 Congress of the Sciences and Humanities, bringing an estimated $9- $12 million into the local economy.  

Congress 2013 kicked off with a major funding announcement from the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology: $167 million for projects funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Once again Congress’ marquee event – the Big Thinking lectures – were a success as delegates packed the auditoriums and praised several speakers with standing ovations. The Big Thinking lectures have become a must-attend event and this year was no exception as delegates were eager to hear from such notable speakers as Louise Arbour, Daniel Weinstock and Doug Saunders....

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Reconciliation through reason

Elizabeth White

Five days into Congress’s Big Thinking series we are met by the P-word - philosophy. It would be expected for its connotations – a dwelling in abstraction and removal from apparent worldly application – that the lecture would invite the attention of only a select few academics and powerful minds. But the academic and political reputation and innovative, socially impactful work of Daniel Weinstock, the MacDonald Professor of Law at McGill University, drew a full house of keen attendees to his reflexive and broadly relevant presentation, “So, are you still a philosopher?”

Through discussion of his theoretical and analytical approach, Weinstock introduced the audience to philosophy in action.  In ideology and application, he actively and critically engages public policy concerning ethics and human rights. His approach invigorates and solidifies studies of socio-political philosophy, rendering them dynamic, accessible,...

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Impact of Harper’s reshaping of Canadian history and identity discussed in micro-lecture session

Vanessa Hawk

Political scientists and historians alike filled seats and pulled chairs from neighbouring rooms across to see the “History under Harper: Federal identity initiatives in Conservative Canada” panel discussion; such a popular event that not even the early hour could dissuade the audience from spilling into the hallway.

Twelve academics were allotted three minutes each in the micro-lecture session to discuss the how historical initiatives undertaken by the Harper government have and will impact Canadian identity and institutions.

Matt James (UVic) manned the timer during the discussion, which was hosted in partnership by the Canadian Historical Association and the Canadian Political Science Association on Wednesday, June 5.

Panelists highlighted numerous examples of federal initiatives under Harper’s government that have reshaped Canadians’ understanding of our history and therefore our identity. While the consensus seemed to...

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What does a 21st century learning experience look like?

Andrina Fawcett

Personalized learning with dashboard

Brad King of Simon Fraser University discussed how he changed typical collaboration practices used to build technology in his presentation “Designing a 21st Century Learning Experience”. King, developer of the customized digital dashboard used by the West Vancouver school district, allows students to create their own digital space which includes a school centered social network, assignment notifications, built in calendar with assignment alerts, and customizable skins. “This allows students the opportunity to have a digital record of their school career”, King stated, but perhaps more importantly, “as a...

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Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond raises her voice so that others can be heard

Maryse Bernard

The introduction to Monday afternoon’s Big Thinking lecture recalled Congress 2013’s theme of “@ the edge.” Not only does this reflect the University of Victoria’s location on the West Coast, but also a commitment to addressing social challenges and inequality, promoting diversity and inclusivity, and ensuring marginalized voices are recognized.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, President of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates, dedicates her life to exactly that. As a judge...

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Some years are just special!

Randip Bakshi

Some years are just special. 2013, it seems, would be one such year as it marks not one, not two, but three far-reaching milestones. First, the University of Victoria turns fifty this year, establishing itself as a leading, comprehensive research university not just in Canada but across the continent and maybe even beyond. Second, Congress, an annual meeting of Canada's scholars, researchers, and thinkers, turns eighty-two. Finally, it will be the year when its seventieth member, the Sexaulity Studies Association (SSA), came into existence. For many of us the impact of these short lived moments would be but a drop in a rather large academic ocean. With a host of activities to choose from and countless panels across disciplines, some even multidisciplinary, Congress reinforces the true spirit of modern day academia. As an environment for the exchange...

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