Code of conduct

Objective and Commitment to Respectful Discourse

The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (the “Federation”) is a national member-based organization of universities and scholarly associations that promotes the value of teaching, research, and scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, as well as a better understanding of the importance of such work for Canada and the world.

In all of its activities, the Federation is committed to the advancement of its goals through respectful, inclusive, and collegial discourse and engagement. Accordingly, the Federation requires adherence to these values by its members, staff, and volunteers, as well as all participants in Federation events and meetings.

The Federation strives to ensure that all participants in Federation activities enjoy an environment free from discrimination, harassment, and bullying. Further, the Federation is committed to providing an atmosphere through all of its activities which encourages free expression and the exchange of ideas  — in a respectful manner — as well as open, critically engaged, and sometimes challenging discourse. 

To that end, the Federation requires that all members, affiliate members, participants, and those accompanying participants to Federation activities, whether in-person or virtual, comply with the Code of Conduct as set out herein and as may be amended by the Federation from time to time. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from Federation membership and/or participation in Federation activities.


Affiliate”: Any organization that has successfully applied to be an Affiliate pursuant to the applicable Federation By-Law.

Congress”: Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences – the Federation’s largest annual event.

Federation Activity”: Any in-person or virtual event (including Congress) or meeting (inclusive of membership meetings) hosted or organized by the Federation, as well as any activity, discussion or discourse related to the Federation’s events, meetings, mandate or work.

Member”: Scholarly associations, universities and colleges, Directors, societies and any other organizations who have successfully applied for membership pursuant to the applicable Federation ByLaw.

Non-Participant”: Any person who has accompanied a Member, Affiliate, or Participant in Federation Activity but is not registered to attend. 

Participant”: Any registered attendee, speaker, invited guest, sponsor/exhibitor, staff member or volunteer participating in Congress, or any other Federation Activity.

Sanctionable Conduct”: Any conduct, as outlined below, for which the Federation may impose sanctions at its sole discretion.

Sanctionable Conduct

At all times while participating in any Federation Activity, all Members, Affiliates and Participants are required to conduct themselves in a respectful and appropriate manner that upholds the values of the Federation as set out above.  Further, Members, Affiliates and Participants are required to ensure that Non-Participants accompanying them to a Federation Activity be aware of, and comply with, this Code of Conduct. The expected behaviour extends to any format of the event or meeting, including any virtual forms, and to the use of any online tools related to the event or meeting.

Sanctionable Conduct of Members, Affiliates and Participants reflects negatively on the reputation of the Federation and may create a hostile environment for other Members, Affiliates and
Participants. Non-Participants accompanying Participants to a Federation Activity can have a similar impact. Accordingly, while in the vicinity of a Federation Activity and while participating, attending or engaging in any Federation Activity, all Members, Affiliates, Participants and Non-Participants are required to adhere to the Code of Conduct and refrain from Sanctionable Conduct towards other Members, Affiliates and Participants, as well as towards Non-Participants and staff and students of any host institution or venue.

The following conduct, whether in writing, in person, or by other virtual form, will not be tolerated by the Federation:


Any form of violence, including the use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened and/or emotional, psychological or verbal abuse.


Any conduct which includes:

  1. Any act or omission which has the effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of denying an individual or group equal treatment or opportunities; or
  2. Any conduct, statement, remark or comment which is derogatory, discriminatory or engages inappropriate stereotypes;

On the basis of any prohibited ground including race, ancestry, place of origin, ethnicity, citizenship, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, marital status, family status,  disability, physical appearance, body size, religion (or lack thereof).

Note: In assessing the discriminatory nature of any alleged conduct, the Federation shall be guided by any applicable legislation in the province wherein the Federation Activity is occurring.

Harassment and Bullying

Any conduct which includes:

  1. A course of vexatious comment or conduct which is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome;
  2. Sexual harassment and/or unwanted sexual advances; and
  3. Conduct which invades the privacy of another Member, Affiliate Member or Participant.

Harassment need not be intentional and need not be on the basis of a prohibited ground, as defined above. Examples of harassment and/or bullying include:

  • Unwelcome, unwanted or inappropriate jokes
  • Taunting
  • Conduct that makes the victim feel unsafe
  • Inappropriate comments about one’s physical appearance or body size
  • Derogatory or dismissive comments
  • Offensive or belittling comments or gestures
  • Displaying offensive or derogatory material
  • Shunning or exclusionary conduct
  • Persistent disruption of talks or events
  • Any other conduct that creates an intimidating, offensive or hostile environment

Disreputable Conduct

Any other conduct that causes, or has the potential to cause, damage to the reputation of the Federation.

Conduct Complaints

All complaints regarding the conduct of a Member, Affiliate Member, Participant or Non-Participant shall be made, and addressed by the Federation, pursuant to the Federation’s Complaints Investigation Procedure.

At all times, the Federation will be respectful of its duty of confidentiality throughout any complaints process and shall comply with its statutory obligations under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

Possible Sanctions

Where a Member, Affiliate Member or Participant is found, pursuant to the Complaints Investigation Procedure, to have engaged in Sanctionable Conduct, the Federation may impose any one (or more) of the following sanctions:

  • Verbal or written warning or reprimand;
  • Suspension of Participant, Member or Affiliate Member from a Federation Activity or Activities without reimbursement;
  • Suspension of Participant, Member or Affiliate Member from a specific portion of a Federation Activity without reimbursement;
  • Expulsion of Participant, Member or Affiliate Member from Federation Activities on a permanent basis;
  • Suspension or Expulsion of Member or Affiliate Member from the Federation; and/or
  • Requirement to undergo training, education, policy review or to acknowledge wrongdoing in to address the specific nature of the Sanctionable Conduct.

Where a Non-Participant accompanies a Participant to a Federation Activity and engages in Sanctionable Conduct, the Non-Participant may be immediately expelled from the Federation Activity. In appropriate circumstances, the accompanying Participant may also be expelled from the Federation Activity and/or may be subject to other sanctions as set out above.

Any determination as to the appropriate sanction will be on the basis of the severity of the conduct and will be at the Federation’s sole discretion. The purpose of any sanction will be aimed at correcting the Sanctionable Conduct and ensuring a safe, respectful and collegial environment on a going forward basis.

The Federation has no authority to impose monetary sanctions of any kind.


Download the Code of conduct (PDF).

Download the Complaints investigation procedure (PDF).