Regina, you’ve never seen anything like this before.
From May 26 to June 1, 2018, approximately 7,000 people will be travelling to the Queen City to attend the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Unrivaled in scope and impact, Congress is the convergence of 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella.
This is the largest conference to ever be held in Regina. Now in its 87th year, this flagship event is much more than Canada’s largest gathering of scholars. Congress brings together academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow. Discussions centre on issues related to a broad spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, including literature, geography, theatre, sociology, education, digital humanities and history.
This year, The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences has selected the University of Regina to host this prestigious event. “Congress is a way of showcasing both the University and the City of Regina, and highlighting all the great work that is being done here. It’s also an opportunity for people to come from all over Canada to learn from us and for us to learn from them,” says Dr. Andrea Sterzuk, Acting Dean and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina.
Sterzuk works in the area of critical applied linguistics, and her research tends to examine issues of power, identity and language in schools and in higher education. She is a Congress veteran, having attended the event for nearly 15 years.
As President of the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics, Sterzuk and her team are responsible for their own conference, call for papers and putting together their own conference program, with its own free public events. “It’s really important that we share the things we’ve learned in our research with the community,” says Sterzuk. “Since our subject area is applied linguistics, discussions are very relevant to language teachers. Our keynote speakers are scheduled for the end of the school day, so teachers can come and listen at no charge.”
The theme for this year’s Congress is “Gathering diversities.” This theme reflects the University of Regina’s dynamic growth in post-secondary education and research, welcoming peoples from within Saskatchewan, across Canada and around the world. “Gathering diversities” honours the history of the area as a traditional place of gathering, evoked in Regina’s original name, Wascana, or oskana kâ-asastêki — where the bones are gathered, referring to the region’s heritage as rich buffalo hunting grounds for a multitude of Plains cultures.
Congress is a creative place where you meet like-minded people, scholars and professionals with different perspectives across humanities and social sciences. Whether your interests lie in history, literature, politics, poetry, sociology, media, film or fine arts, there’s bound to be something for you. There are plenty of open events for the public to attend, the highlight of which is the Big Thinking lecture series. This series provides an opportunity to hear leading scholars and public figures from around the globe present forward-thinking research, ideas and solutions to the critical questions and issues of our time.
This year, the lineup includes talks from Melina Laboucan-Massimo on Indigenous women and climate change, Margaret MacMillan on the history of war, Marie Wilson on diversity and reconciliation, and Alaa Murabit on leadership and sustainable peace building. The series is free and does not require registration to attend. The full lineup can be viewed at www.congress2018.ca.
Other open congress events include Career Corner, a professional development workshop series where you can learn about career advancement, teaching techniques, lesson planning, publishing research and careers beyond academia; University of Regina programming, where you can learn more about the university’s programming; Reconciliation programming, where you can browse events with a focus on reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people; and Congress expo, where you can visit Canada’s largest academic trade show including 50 exhibitors, book launches, book signings, career presentations and networking receptions.
Community is a huge part of this year’s Congress. “Our university is very much a part of the community, and we stand out from past Congresses for this reason,” says Congress Academic Convenor, Dr. André Magnan who is also an associate professor in the University of Regina’s Department of Sociology and Social Studies. Magnan and his team have been working to develop academic, community-based and cultural programming that will take place throughout the Congress week. “We have also partnered with the City of Regina, Tourism Regina and other organizations to ensure success. Rebellion Brewing has even created a special beer for Congress attendees!” The University of Regina also set aside funds to provide Masters and PhD students with $500 travel grants to go towards accommodation and food on campus, so that more graduate students from across Canada can attend Congress.
Congress 2018 is recruiting more than 500 volunteers. If you’re interested in helping out with this landmark event, please head to the Congress website to register.
By Laurissa Kainz Photos courtesy University of Regina Photography Department