Congress 2017

This year’s 50+ Festival will include Congress 2017 programming. Hosted this year by Ryerson University, the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences brings together academics, researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow. From theatre research, literature studies and history to education, sociology and communications, Congress represents a unique showcase of scholarly excellence, creativity, and leadership.

Below are some of the highlights of Congress 2017 that are free and open to general public. Please click on the event title to see full details.

Five hundred years of building diversity: Canadian citizenship at the future’s edge

Is Canada built on the ideals of inclusion, diversity and full citizenship? Where did these ideals come from, are we living up to them, and where are they going? What will community and Canadian citizenship mean in the new millennium and what must we do to reach these ideals? Join former Member of Parliament Olivia Chow, award-winning essayist and novelist John Ralston Saul and Anishinaabe scholar and commentator Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair as they explore ideas of belonging and exclusion on the eve of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Film screening: Deepa Mehta’s Anatomy of Violence with acclaimed producer David Hamilton

Anatomy of Violence, directed by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Deepa Mehta, mixes fiction and fact in an improvised exploration of the events leading and following the gang rape of a young woman by six men in a bus in Delhi in 2012. This film stares directly at the question: “What makes monsters?” It probes where these young men came from and what might have motivated them. Created with the intention to be a catalyst in expanding the dialogue surrounding the issue of violence against women, the film demonstrates the dissemination of violence and that violence is endemic and indiscriminate. Join us for a screening and discussion with producer David Hamilton as we explore the topic – what makes a monster?

The Sacred Headwaters: The Fight to Save the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass

In a rugged knot of mountains in northern British Columbia lies a spectacular valley known to the First Nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers — the Stikine, Skeena and Nass — are born in remarkably close proximity. Now the British Columbia government has opened the Sacred Headwaters to industrial development. For ten years Tahltan men women and children, along with local non-native trappers, guides, and writers have stood up for the land, and in a remarkable grassroots victory in 2012, Shell Canada withdrew from the valley. The struggle continues, and will continue until the entire Sacred Headwaters is protected. The resounding message of the people is that no amount of gold, copper or coal can compensate for the sacrifice of a place that could be the Sacred Headwaters of all North Americans and indeed all peoples of the world.

On Indigenous lands: Empathy and social justice

The panel considers how empathy might lead to greater social justice and reconciliation, and considers what mechanisms have emerged in the last decade (and before) that would allow for this, with a particular focus on truth commissions. The panel studies the Canadian case, which offers insight into both empathy and justice, as well as examines the experience of eight other countries that have undertaken or seek to undertake work on truth and reconciliation. What has been learned about truth commissions, reconciliation, forgiveness, sympathy, empathy and justice in other countries can be usefully applied here in Canada, and abroad, for the next 150 years.

Ryerson urban farm

Ryerson University is home to a quarter-acre rooftop farm located on the Andrew and Valerie Pringle Environmental Green Roof above the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre. The original green roof was built in 2004 and converted to an ecological market garden in 2013 by the Ryerson Urban Farm, which grew out of a student-lead initiative to grow fresh food on campus. Now, the Ryerson urban farm produces roughly 10,000 pounds of produce annually, distributed between Ryerson Eats, the Gould Street Farmers’ Market, the Community Food Room, and to a Community Supported Agriculture Program. This innovative project demonstrates the potential for green roofs to produce food, as well as contribute to the health and well-being of our community and the environment. Join a guided tour of the rooftop farm, located at the George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre.

Led by Arlene Throness. Tour of maximum 40 people. Guests are advised to arrive 10 minutes before the start time.

KAIROS Blanket Exercise

An interactive learning experience open to all teaches the history of Indigenous rights as is rarely taught in schools. Developed in response to the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples the Blanket Exercise covers over 500 years of history in a 1½-hour participatory workshop.

Blanket Exercise participants take on the roles of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Standing on blankets that represent the land, they walk through pre-contact, treaty-making, colonization and resistance. They are directed by facilitators representing a narrator and European colonizers. Participants are drawn into the experience by reading scrolls and carrying cards which ultimately determine their outcomes. By engaging participants on an emotional and intellectual level, the Blanket Exercise effectively educates and increases empathy. 

Engaging learners through innovative emerging educational technologies

This session will provide an introduction to educational technologies. Participants will learn about common and emerging technologies used in the post-secondary classroom for student engagement, gaming, communication, collaboration, etc. The session will provide practical examples of how different technologies are being used to support teaching and learning, both online and in classrooms. 

An evening with Cornel West

Cornel West is a provocative democratic intellectual. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. He is author of over 20 books and editor of 13. Though he is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, his most recent releases, Black Prophetic Fire and Radical King, were received with critical acclaim. In this session, Cornel shares his views on Race, Democracy, Justice and Love.

Present and Powerful Indigenous Women

Indigenous women are at the forefront of change and mobilization in Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities across Canada, despite their more common portrayal as victims in the media. Against the backdrop of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, hear the voices and perspectives of three path breaking Indigenous women from different generations as they explore wide-ranging issues and challenges for women’s roles in shaping the future of their communities and of Canada. This Big Thinking event will feature Métis playright, Elder in Residence at Athabasca University and author of Halfbreed Maria CampbellTracey Lindberg, Cree author of the novel Birdie and professor of law at the University of Ottawa, and President of the National Inuit Youth Council Maatalii Okalik.

Debunking national narratives: Bigotry unpacked

A panel of Ryerson University Distinguished Visiting Professors discusses the realities and paradox of racism in Canada. While Canadians often understand and reject overt manifestations of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and nativism, we also tolerate systemic racism against First Nations and racialized peoples, especially by police. The subtle, systemic and often invisible biases that underlie this paradox of rejecting overt expressions of bias and prejudice while tolerating their invisible practice, are hard to identify, let alone eradicate. Has academia given legitimacy to this phenomenon with the new label of implicit or unconscious bias?

Media in the Age of Terror

Mohamed Fahmy was Al Jazeera English Bureau Chief in Cairo in 2013 when he was falsely accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood—a group designated as a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government. He and other journalists were imprisoned in the Scorpion maximum security prison for over 430 days, living with members of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Join Mohamed Fahmy as he discusses his ordeal, how press freedoms and ethics remain threatened by states and endangered by media organizations, and the role NGOs, academics, and human rights advocates can and must play for journalists and prisoners of conscience in Canada and internationally.

Social justice walking tour: by Cathy Crowe and John Lorinc

Tours of approximately 20 people will leave Ryerson campus daily (Monday to Thursday) for a 90-minute walk, led by Cathy Crowe or John Lorinc, through Toronto neighbourhoods, to narrate and bring to life the stories of poverty, immigration, and homelessness.

Black Joy: Resistance, Revolution, & Radical Love

Black is deeper than a color or identity politic. It is a conceptual approach and perspective on engaging with the world. We live in the nuance beyond binary definitions. How do we expand our narratives versus simply sharing them? What is Black joy and radical love? How has it been used as tools of resistance and methods of those most oppressed? Storytelling is crucial to healing and imagination is necessary for change. Poetry, arts, and music have always been at the forefront of any shift in society so how do we tell stories and empower imaginations through the Black Radical tradition? In this Big Thinking event, join award-winning performance poet and human rights advocate Aja Monet for a performance and conversation with Toronto Star columnist and activist Desmond Cole.