Congress 2019

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Congress 2019 was hosted by The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. The theme was “Circles of Conversation.”

About the University of British Columbia

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The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world – and top 20 public universities. Since 1915, the university has embraced innovation and academic rigour. UBC encourages its students, staff, and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery, and explore new ways of learning. Locally integrated and globally connected, the university has always been a place of community engagement. UBC creates an exceptional learning environment that fosters global citizenship, advances a civil and sustainable society, and supports outstanding research to serve the people of British Columbia, Canada and the world. Among UBC faculty and alumni, you will find a number of Rhodes Scholars, Nobel Laureates, and three Canadian Prime Ministers.

The UBC campuses and operations are located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Musqueam people (Point Grey campus), the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples (Downtown Vancouver campus), and the Syilx Okanagan people (Okanagan campus).

For more information, please visit

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Theme: Circles of Conversation

With the theme “Circles of Conversation,” Congress 2019 in Vancouver emphasized the deep, two-way relationships between the university and the communities it serves: local, provincial, national, and global. Particular attention was focused on productive scholarly relations with Indigenous communities. The University of British Columbia sits on unceded  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory and houses the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. 

“Circles of Conversation” opened up space for dialogue, debate, and dissent, and showcased creative critical engagements — in literature, visual arts, and music — with topics as diverse as sustainability, accessibility, global mobility, health, culture, and, of course, education. Congress 2019 fostered and encouraged circles of conversation among scholars, educators, students, political leaders, and activists, so that people could speak with one another, listen, and learn together.

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Laura Moss, Academic Convenor

A Professor in the Department of English Languages and Literatures, Laura Moss teaches Canadian and African literatures. Her research interests lie in the intersections of art and public policy, and in Canadian literary history.  Moss is the Editor of the journal Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review and has served as Chair of the UBC Canadian Studies Program and Director of the International Canadian Studies Centre. In 2013, she was awarded the UBC Killam Teaching Prize.

As the Academic Convenor, Moss plays a crucial role in the successful academic planning, multidisciplinary programming, and hosting of the conference. As an ambassador for Congress within UBC, she will build support across the institution and amongst faculty, students and the campus community.

This will be Moss’s 15th Congress, and UBC is delighted to have her leading on Congress 2019. 

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Big Thinking

Voir grand

The Big Thinking lecture series is held throughout Congress and brings together leading scholars and public figures who present forward-thinking research, ideas and solutions to the critical questions and issues of our time. The 2019 Big Thinking lecture series is organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of British Columbia, with the generous support of series sponsors.


In Conversation with Esi Edugyan
Esi Edugyan
Sunday, June 2, 2019
Watch the video

What is the price of reconciling freedom and responsibility in a changing democracy?
Simon Brault, O.C., O. Q.
Monday, June 3, 2019
Watch the video - in French

Beyond Climate: Science, storytelling and solutions
David Suzuki and Ian Mauro
Tuesday June 4, 2019
Watch the video

Storytelling and strength: Voices from Indigenous theatre in Canada
Sylvia Cloutier, Margo Kane, Lindsay Lachance and Corey Payette
Wednesday June 5, 2019
Watch the video

Impossible Pictures
Stan Douglas
Thursday, June 6, 2019
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Download the Congress Essentials Guide(PDF) for a listing of events that were open to all attendees.

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Congress 2019 highlights

Congress 2019 brought together 10,600 scholars, students and members of the public to share perspectives, discuss ideas and build connections at Canada’s largest academic conference. Hosted by The University of British Columbia, Congress 2019 took place from June 1 to 7. This year’s theme, “Circles of Conversation,” sparked important discussions around community, inclusivity and reconciliation in Canada. In the span of one week, more than 6,000 papers were presented by researchers from 73 associations, and over 291 free events were open to attendees and the general public:

  • The first ever Big Thinking lecture series featuring the arts as a platform to engage with scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. 
  • The University of British Columbia offered a plethora of exciting programming options, with 196 open sessions including featured talks, exhibitions, performances and — new this year — a Pedagogy Hub.
  • Thirty reconciliation-themed events focused on the role the humanities and social sciences can play in addressing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, along with another 24 Indigenous-focused events specifically put on by UBC.
  • This year’s Career Corner professional development series proposed 22 workshops to help academics of all levels advance their careers, publish and market their research, and improve their lesson planning and teaching skills.

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Congress media

Congress 2019 was widely covered by regional and national media, with over 800 media stories running in online, print, radio and TV outlets. The following are but some of the most noteworthy media highlights:

Incident at Congress 2019 on June 2

Many members contacted the Federation to express their concern and outrage regarding the incident that took place at Congress on June 2, 2019. Instances of anti-Black racism, racial profiling and racial discrimination are deeply troubling no matter when or where they may take place. The Federation is taking action to address this issue and is committed to keeping the community informed as we move forward. On June 5, the Federation issued an initial statement about the incident as well as an open letter to the Black Canadian Studies Association. On June 10, Patrizia Albanese, as the Federation’s President, issued another update. The Federation thanks all members who have raised their voices and demanded action. We are listening, we are learning, and we are taking action. We remain committed to keeping our community informed as we work towards resolving the issues at hand.

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The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences gratefully acknowledges the support of the following partners:

Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada

SAGE Publishing  Mitacs Fondation canadienne pour l'innovation

Universités Canada Fondation Pierre Elliott Trudeau Affaires universitaires

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