Inside MAY 2012 WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY Waterloo | Brantford | Kitchener | Toronto Congress 2012 kicks off May 26 Wilfrid Laurier University will co-host 8,000 delegates over eight days The Laurier Congress 2012 team is busy putting the final touches on preparations. From left: Laura Davey, Dan Dawson, Chinye Osamusali, Sheldon Pereira, Michael Carroll and Elenor Ty. By Nicholas Dinka Margaret Atwood, Thomas HomerDixon and Jane Urquhart will be giving “Big Thinking” lectures. A “Connectent” featuring local entertainment, food and breweries will highlight the charms of uptown Waterloo. Guided walking tours, medieval calligraphy workshops, an Aboriginal welcoming ceremony, and a festival of classical music quartets will add to the overall atmosphere of celebration. Taking place between May 26 and June 2, the 2012 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences (Congress 2012) is, first and foremost, a meeting of academics in the humanities and social sciences who gather each year to present lectures, hold meetings and catch up with researchers from across the country. But as the above selection of events indicates, it’s much more than a quiet meeting of minds in an isolated ivory tower. “For academics, Congress is an efficient way for scholars to gather together and share ideas, meet with old colleagues and acquain- tances, and take the pulse of what’s happening in our fields,” said Eleanor Ty, a Laurier professor of English and Film Studies, and Laurier’s academic convener for Congress 2012. “But there’s also a strong social component, both for the academics involved and the local community.” Organized by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and co-hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, this year’s Congress is organized around the theme of “Crossroads: Scholarship for an Uncertain World.” The event will host 8,000 visiting academics, practitioners and policy-makers from more than 70 different professional associations — from theatre, literature and education, to history, sociology, geography and international development. It has been years in the making, and has involved the efforts of more than 300 volunteers, dozens of community partners and 24 working committees made up of university members and representatives of local government. Representatives of each of the participating associations have also participated. “I’ve heard people joke that this is a once-in-a-university’s-lifetime experience,” said Sheldon Pereira, Laurier’s project coordinator for Congress 2012. “It’s such a huge undertaking that it’s not something a university would be able to do often.” Among the numerous events scheduled for the week (see page 6 for an events listing), the 10 Big Thinking lectures are key, and not just because they feature some well-known speakers. “Through this series of public lectures and through Congress itself, researchers in the social sciences and humanities can take stock of the significant changes affecting Canada and the world, from new technologies and environmental and political changes to economic upheavals,” said Max Blouw, Laurier president and vice-chancellor. “Congress 2012’s theme of ‘Crossroads’ and an exceptional roster of Big Thinkers will facilitate discussion and collaboration on these complex global issues across disciplines.” The Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is organized as a multi-association event to facilitate cross-pollination between disciplines. It also allows the numerous academics who belong to multiple associations or whose work is interdisciplinary to attend Congress see page 2 Laurier embraces humanities and social sciences By Nicholas Dinka In recent years, public interest in post-secondary education has focused on applied academic disciplines with an explicit focus on a specific careers, such as business, law, engineering or science. Given the still-fragile state of the global economic recovery, this isn’t entirely surprising. But the humanities and social sciences remain a rich, diverse and innovative area of scholarship, both in the academy at large and at Laurier in particular, where large and robust humanities and 5 6 Chancellor Michael-Lee Chin sits down for a conversation with the CBC’s Amanda Lang. Meet Eleanor Ty, academic co-convenor for Congress 2012, and English and Film Studies professor. social science faculties carry on the university’s long-standing liberal arts tradition, with an eye to innovation in both teaching and research. Laurier’s approach to this diverse collection of disciplines resists easy categorization, but conversations with senior faculty members and administration officials underscore an approach that is in keeping with the university’s community focused, outward-looking and integrative approach to education. Laurier embraces see page 3 7 Susan Cadell studies the positive outcomes of stress in caregiving.