The University of Ottawa hosts Canada's largest academic conference

Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015

More than 8,000 academics, researchers and practitioners will converge on the University of Ottawa campus for the 84th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, from May 30 to June 5. Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress is Canada's largest interdisciplinary academic gathering, bringing together scholars, students and policy-makers involved in a broad spectrum of disciplines including political science, literature, sociology and education.

This year's theme, “Capital ideas,” focuses on the power of ideas to captivate our hearts and minds, to connect people and ignite discussion and debate and to create knowledge and spark discovery.

“Ideas represent an invaluable currency capable of changing our lives and our world,” said Ruby Heap, Congress 2015 academic convenor and University of Ottawa associate vice-president, research. “The theme also reflects the University of Ottawa's location in the nation's capital. As the seat of our federal government and of many national agencies and international organizations, Ottawa boasts a unique environment rooted in the confluence of peoples and the intersection of ideas from all over the world. This promotes a rich diversity of research activities.”

Congress 2015 consists of seven days of meetings, panel presentations and keynote speeches, and over 5,400 research papers presented at more than 2,400 events. Beyond academic conferences, a wide array of free panels, performances and cultural events will open to the public.

“The social sciences help us understand the society in which we live, and the humanities help us understand ourselves. A fundamental understanding of both is vital to help Canadians tackle key challenges, and tap our full potential for building a brighter future for all,”said Stephen Toope, president of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. “Congress by its very nature embraces the spirit of learning, sharing and being the stronger for it.”

“The University of Ottawa is honoured to be hosting Congress 2015,” said Allan Rock, uOttawa president and vice-chancellor. “This gathering of the country's brightest minds promises to spark insightful exchanges on the links between research, society and public policy, and to harness the tremendous power of ideas.”

Big Thinking lectures

The Big Thinking at Congress 2015 lecture series features forward-thinking research, ideas and solutions to critical questions and issues of our time. This year's line-up includes the following:

  • Justice Murray Sinclair - What Do We Do about the Legacy of Indian Residential Schools? (May 30 at 12:15 p.m.)
  • >Joseph Yvon Thériault, FRSC - Whither Francophone Cultures in America? (May 31 at 12:15 p.m.)
  • Monique Proulx - Extremely Vast and Incredibly Near: The Inner World of Montreal (June 1 at 12:15 p.m.)
  • His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada - Innovation in Learning (June 1 at 2 p.m.) 
  • Azar Nafisi - Humanities and the Future of Democracies (June 2 at 12:15 pm)
  • Thomas Faist and Irene Bloemraad - Integration and Citizenship in North America and Europe: Different Paths, Similar Outcomes? (June 3 at 12:15 pm)
  • Jean Leclair - Imagining Canada in a Disenchanted World (June 4 at 12:15 pm)

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 84th year, Congress brings together 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 2015 is hosted by the University of Ottawa. For more information, visit

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research, learning and an understanding of the contributions made by the humanities and the social sciences towards a free and democratic society. Established in 1940, with a membership now comprising 160+ universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 85,000 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, visit

About the University of Ottawa—A crossroads of cultures and ideas

The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada's top 10 research universities—our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today's challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe. For more information, visit

Media inquiries

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

Caroline Milliard
Manager, Media Relations
University of Ottawa
Cell: 613-240-0275

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