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Jarrett Edmund

Congress 2016 brings 8,000 academics to University of Calgary

By Scott Strasser, May 23 2016 —

The University of Calgary will be in Canada’s academic spotlight from May 28 – June 3, as 8,000 scholars arrive on campus for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The event is Canada’s largest annual gathering of scholars. More than 70 academic associations will hold their annual conferences at Congress.

“It’s about different academic associations combining their resources to bring value to their members,” said U of C english professor and chair of Congress 2016 Bart Beaty. “By bringing them all to one campus at one time, there’s that opportunity to have [interaction].”

Congress will be one of Calgary’s highest attended events of the year, just behind events like the Calgary Stampede and the Global Petroleum Show.

The week will feature 133 presentations, workshops, symposiums and panel discussions, many of which are open to the public. According to a report from Meetings & Conventions Calgary, Congress will contribute $6 million to the local economy.

Notable keynote speakers include author Margaret Atwood, retired Canadian lieutenant-general Romeo Dallaire, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Calgary mayor
Naheed Nenshi.

The U of C’s preparations for the event hit a speed bump in early May, when more than 1,400 Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees moved into U of C residences, many in rooms where Congress attendees were earmarked to stay.

While some on-campus reservations for Congress attendees had to be moved to local hotels, Beaty said the event should still go smoothly.

“All events and activities will go ahead as planned, and all accommodation reservations will be honoured,” Beaty said. “[Administration] has affirmed that this can be accomplished while continuing to meet the humanitarian needs of Fort McMurray evacuees currently being housed in some student residences.”

The U of C said all impacted attendees were contacted by May 18 with new accommodation details.

“Moving some of the Congress attendees to different accommodations means that devastated families who have lost everything can stay on campus with all of the support available,” Beaty said.

Spring semester classes at the U of C will be put on hold for the duration of Congress, pushing back final exams to July 2–4.

The U of C is looking for 350 student volunteers to handle check-ins, crowd control and directional support for the event.

A different Canadian university hosts Congress every year. The U of C hosted Congress once before, in 1994.


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