Canada’s largest academic conference welcomes scholars and public to UBC

May 28, 2019

OTTAWA, May 28, 2019 – The 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences will spotlight the role of the arts as a political actor and agent of change, with The University of British Columbia and the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences providing the stage, from June 1-7.

In its 88th year, Canada’s largest annual gathering of scholars, students, educators and the public will draw up to 10,000 people to UBC’s Vancouver campus for a week of conversations about important topics like sustainability, Indigeneity and reconciliation, global mobility, culture and citizenship.

“This is more than just a conference. It’s a chance to bring together groups across a broad spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to connect and share world-changing ideas that have direct importance for Canada and the lives of Canadians,” said UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa J. Ono.

The public is welcome at more than 280 free events during Congress 2019. These include live performances, art exhibitions, films, research presentations, and discussions with scholars from more than 70 participating academic associations. These events present an opportunity for academics and the public to exchange ideas and share research findings.

“Congress brings thousands of scholars together to share their best ideas and we are absolutely thrilled to be in Vancouver this year,” said Patrizia Albanese, President of the Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences. “The humanities and social sciences help us understand our world and confront the most pressing issues of our time.” 

With “Circles of Conversation” as its theme, Congress 2019 will take place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people, which has been a place of learning for thousands of years. Many of this year’s conversations will focus on productive scholarly relations with Indigenous communities.

The annual Big Thinking series will bring together Indigenous theatre artists Sylvia Cloutier, Margo Kane, Lindsay Lachance and Corey Payette to talk about storytelling and strength on June 5. Other Big Thinking guests include:

  • Esi Edugyan, Canadian novelist - In conversation with Dr. Minelle Mahtani (June 2)

  • Simon Brault, Director/CEO of Canada Council for the Arts - What is the price of reconciling freedom and responsibility in a changing democracy? (June 3)

  • David Suzuki and Ian Mauro, science and environment communicators - Beyond Climate: Science, storytelling and solutions (June 4)

  • Stan Douglas, visual artist - Exploring the boundaries of artistic expression in photographic depictions of the past. (June 6)

Suzuki and Mauro will screen their latest film, Beyond Climate, as part of Climate Day on June 4. UBC has organized climate-related programming throughout the day, with featured talks on carbon pricing in Canada and the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

The following day, the host university has invited Carole Taylor, Preston Manning, and Adriane Carr for a panel discussion on how to bring evidence-based policymaking, consensus-building, and ethical partisanship to our democracy.

“I am excited that we have brought together so many people from across the disciplines to talk about important contemporary issues,” said Laura Moss, professor of Canadian literature at UBC and academic convenor for Congress 2019. “We’ve focused our programming especially on the vital intersection of art, community, and politics in creating change.”

For further information, calendar of events, and media accreditation, visit


About the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Unrivaled in scope and impact, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences is the convergence of over 70 scholarly associations, each holding their annual conference under one umbrella. Now in its 88th 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.

About the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences
The Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences promotes research and teaching for the advancement of an inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. With a membership now comprising over 160 universities, colleges and scholarly associations, the Federation represents a diverse community of 91,000 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.

About The University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a global centre for teaching, learning and research, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world and recently recognized as North America’s most international university. Since 1915, the university’s motto, Tuum Est (It is Yours), has been a declaration of its commitment to attracting and supporting those who have the drive to shape a better world, and helping them realize their greatest potential. UBC students, faculty and staff continue to embrace innovation and challenge the status quo, placing the university at the forefront of discovery, learning and engagement.

Media contacts

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

Erik Rolfsen
The University of British Columbia
Media Relations Specialist
Cell: 604-209-3048