Big Thinking

Big Thinking


Big Thinking 
Upcoming Events

2019 Season


A call to action: Rethinking leadership in the global response to forced migration

What place should refugees and internally displaced persons have in the upcoming federal election? How can universities help inform public policy and the general public on the issue? In this presentation, Allan Rock provides a brief overview of the World Refugee Council’s (WRC) most recent report and recommendations.

Together, Rock’s keynote and the WRC report are a clarion call for the creation of a Global Action Network for the Forcibly Displaced. Rock highlights the critical importance of the active involvement of the academy in the Network, and engages policy makers, scholars, the media and the general public in a conversation on how to promote and implement the report’s proposed changes. Rock’s presentation will be followed by a conversation with Heather Scoffield, Ottawa Bureau Chief for The Canadian Press, and a Q&A with guests.

Allan Rock served as Senior Advisor to the World Refugee Council. He is President Emeritus of the University of Ottawa, and a Professor in its Faculty of Law, where he teaches International Humanitarian Law and Public and Constitutional Law. He has formerly served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (1993-1997), Minister of Health (1997-2002), and Minister of Industry and Infrastructure (2002-2003). Rock was Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations (2003-2006), as well as President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Ottawa (2008-2016). 

Date: February 28, 2019
Time: 7:30 am - 8:45 am
Location: Sir John A. Macdonald Building, 144 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Room 200

Past Events

The social implications of artificial intelligence
November 14, 2018

This Big Thinking event was held in partnership with Dalhousie University.
This panel explored the potential social impacts of artificial intelligence and the role humanities and social sciences will play in identifying the legal, ethical and policy issues we should start considering today.

Moderator: Howard Ramos, Associate Dean of Research, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Dalhousie University

Panel: Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology, University of Ottawa
Teresa Heffernan, Professor of English, Saint Mary’s University
Duncan MacIntosh, Professor and Department Chair of Philosophy, Dalhousie University
Fuyuki Kurasawa, York Research Chair in Global Digital Citizenship and Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, York University

The social implications of emerging technologies: Are the most important questions the least studied?
November 7, 2018
Panel: Jaigris Hodson, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Royal Roads University
Eric Meslin, President and CEO, Council of Canadian Academies
Dominic Martin, Professor of Ethics, École des sciences de la gestion, Université du Québec à Montréal
Moderator: Peter Severinson, Policy Analyst, Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Rapid development of transformative new technologies – such as social media, artificial intelligence, and new health technologies – is creating important opportunities and challenges for governments, businesses, the research community and society at large. Too often, however, the social implications of such developments are overlooked. In this session we will explore whether the Canadian policy and research community is doing enough to understand and address the social implications of new technologies. We will consider how multidisciplinary approaches can help us address multiple dimensions of technological change and better understand the roles of diverse actors, including the natural scientist, the philosopher, the engineer, the behavioural scientist, the historian and the policy maker.

Work in a warming world
Carla Lipsig-Mummé
, Professor, Work and Labour Studies, York University
October 3, 2018

Can Canadian work and labour help slow global warming? As its complexity, destructiveness and speed all increase, climate change has become an urgent social issue. Physical and social upheavals of climate change modify how we work, how we build, how products are transported, what we produce, where we produce it. While Canadian work is a major source of greenhouse gases, we are now identifying a role that adapting work can play. If we are serious about creating a low-carbon economy, bringing work, the workplace and labour unions “in” to the struggle is as crucial as it is timely.

This special Big Thinking event was offered by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences in partnership with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) in celebration of SSHRC’s 40th anniversary.

The Big Thinking series is made possible through the support of


See past Big Thinking lectures