Road to Congress by fjzhxb


									Road to Congress
Telling the story of the campus community’s preparations for Congress 2007 – May 26th-June 2nd – and the researchers and graduate students who are central to it.
Issue #1 - Dec./06

Campus GearinG up to Host ConGress 2007
Planning for Congress 2007 – a major national event for Saskatchewan and the centerpiece of the University of Saskatchewan’s 100th anniversary celebration – has begun to move into high gear. Across campus, teams are being mobilized to organize everything from logistics — such as room bookings and computer requirements — to programming, publicity, and sponsorship for the mammoth eight-day meeting that is expected to draw up to 6,000 delegates, making it the largest conference ever held in Saskatoon. The 2007 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences will be held May 26th to June 2nd in co-operation with the Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS), an umbrella organization of more than 75 scholarly associations. “We’re very proud to be hosting in our centennial year the largest multidisciplinary gathering of scholars in North America,” said President Peter MacKinnon. “This major intellectual festival will contribute to public policy debate on national issues of crucial importance while showcasing our university, our city and our province.” At a recent dinner in Saskatoon, Premier Lorne Calvert spoke enthusiastically of Congress, calling it “the largest event of its kind in our province’s history.”
Congress Academic Convenor Hans Michelmann and Co-Convenor Paul Bidwell at recent event for the planning team

Earlier this fall, representatives from more than 50 Canadian academic societies attended a national planning meeting at Marquis Hall. Visitors were impressed with the campus as they toured venues for some of the more than 2,000 scholarly sessions, as well as for the Congress registration centre and the book fair (the Physical Activity Complex), the hospitality site (Louis’ Pub), and special social and cultural events (the Bowl). “It’s a very, very big coup for a university to get the Congress,” said CFHSS acting director Jody Ciufo. “It’s a decision that is not taken lightly by the Federation.” Hosting Congress is a rare opportunity for the U of S which has hosted the event only twice before – in 1959 and in 1979.
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Education dean Cecilia Reynolds, who has been involved with two previous Congresses in Ontario, says the biggest impact on the U of S will be reputational. “This will put us on the map with a key group of people – graduate students, professors, government officials, policy makers, and others,” she said. “It will be a chance for this campus to shine.” The delegates, whose average length of stay will be three days, will present papers, participate in colloquia, hear prominent speakers, conduct professional organization business, and meet colleagues from across Canada and around the world. To enable the University to provide the more than 165 classrooms needed for Congress, no classes will be held during the eight-day event. Congress academic convenor Hans Michelmann said Congress 2007 will advance the University’s strategic directions including fostering pre-eminence, sense of place, commitment to scholarly and artistic work, and recruitment of outstanding faculty and students. “It will undoubtedly have long-term economic, social, cultural and educational benefits to Saskatoon and the province as a whole,” he said. The immediate local economic impact is expected to be in excess of $3.5 million, according to Tourism Saskatoon. Delegates will be accommodated in local hotels and campus residences and will dine in local restaurants, shop in local stores, and visit tourist sites. Because delegates will get the chance to become acquainted with the campus and the city, Congress is seen as a great opportunity to recruit some top faculty and students to the U of S.
1979 Academic Convenor Michael Swan (left) and U of S President Robert Begg (right) register the first delegate. Photo by Gibson

Professor emeritus Michael Swan who led the organization of Congress in 1979 recalls: “People were very curious about the University of Saskatchewan because not that high of a proportion of delegates had been to Saskatchewan before,” he said. “To judge from the letters of thanks from delegates, I think it was quite an eye-opener to those from across the country.” Congress will also attract significant local and national media coverage, raising the profile of U of S scholars and the importance of their work to Canadian society.

At special outdoor convocation in 1979, U of S Chancellor John Diefenbaker confers honorary degree on Oxford economist Amartya Sen who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on poverty. Premier Allan Blakeney is seated to Diefenbaker’s right. U of S Secretary Norm Cram (left of Sen) assists with the ceremony.

a meeting of minds
Congress 2007 – essentially 70 conferences in one - will provide a forum for debate of some of the most important social and cultural questions of the day, says Congress academic convenor Hans Michelmann. “Congress provides an opportunity for exchange of groundbreaking ideas and research findings in areas as diverse as international development, practical ethics, disability studies, and social work,” said Michelmann. The annual “Research in Society” lectures, which in the past have featured highly acclaimed scholars such as novelist Ronald Wright, writer Michael Ignatieff, and environmentalist David Suzuki, are a major highlight. The “Breakfast on Campus” lecture series features prominent figures from outside academe including novelists, artists, journalists and politicians. The speakers for these lecture series will be in announced early in the new year. The work of hundreds of U of S, University of Regina and First Nations University of Canada faculty and students will be featured, alongside that of scholars from Canada and around the world. One example is Jennifer Welsh, a U of S alumna who is now an international relations expert at Oxford University. Professor Welsh is being brought in by the Canadian Historical Association to speak on the federal government’s performance in involving the public in policy making and in disseminating policy back to the public. Campus engagement is increasing, with several colleges actively planning events. U of S academic units involved in Congress will include the colleges of Education, Law, Kinesiology, Arts & Science (social sciences, humanities and fine arts divisions), Nursing, and Graduate Studies, as well as research groups such as the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives.

Scientist and broadcaster David Suzuki addresses 1979 U of S symposium on genetic engineering. Photo by Gibson

bridging communities theme
Croquet anyone? That will be the rallying cry for an Alice in Wonderland-style celebrity croquet match to be staged in the Bowl at Congress as a fund-raiser for the community literacy group Read Saskatoon. The showcase event, which will involve costumes from the drama department and pink flamingo ornaments as mallets, will feature various University and Saskatchewan leaders in starring roles. It’s just one example of how the Congress 2007 theme – “Bridging Communities—Making Public Knowledge, Making Knowledge Public” – will be an opportunity to increase outreach and engagement with the local community. “The Congress theme, which fits with the prominence of bridges in Saskatoon, underscores the aspirations of universities to connect with the communities they serve, both sharing and receiving knowledge,” says Congress co-convenor Paul Bidwell, organizer of the croquet caper. Through a series of academic and cultural events across the campus, Congress will place special emphasis on women (“Celebrating 100 Years of Women as Global Citizens”), the province’s Aboriginal heritage and partnerships with Aboriginal Peoples, and the growth of Canada’s social economy. A major Congress sub-theme will be bridging the academic and Aboriginal communities. Special attention will be drawn to this theme with a series of symposia and speakers, culminating in a community Round Dance. The Diefenbaker Centre is working with Métis groups to organize an exhibit of Métis Saskatchewan documents and artefacts. With the purchase of a $15 community day pass, members of the public will be invited to attend selected lectures, cultural events, and the largest book fair in Canada. A community participants’ guide will be posted on the Congress 2007 website.
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Plans for a number of special events involving community and alumni partners are emerging, including: • fine arts events such as the Amati Quartet, an aboriginal film series, jazz combos, and the highly acclaimed theatrical tribute to Joni Mitchell’s music “Songs of a Prairie Girl” • a breakfast session with novelist Guy Vanderhaeghe on turning a novel into a movie • an exhibit of books written by U of S alumni • field trips for geographers to Grasslands National Park • a rural hospitality night for social economy scholars • a joint art exhibit with the Mendel Gallery

“Congress will demonstrate the value to society of research and education in the humanities, social sciences and fine arts, in particular the richness of U of S’s fine arts talent and its connection to the local community,” Bidwell added. The University is working closely with local arts groups, Tourism Saskatoon, the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, and media outlets to ensure maximum community involvement.

who’s planning congress 2007?
Though the Federation takes the lead in planning Congress, the whole U of S community will have a major supporting role with a cast of hundreds. Already more than 150 people from units across campus have joined the planning teams. “Congress 2007 will engage most sectors of the campus,” says Michelmann. Students will also be actively involved in a wide variety of Congress jobs – it’s anticipated that Congress will provide more than 13,000 hours of student employment. Congress planning really began in 2002 when the bid, an initiative of President Peter MacKinnon, went forward with the support of the Province of Saskatchewan, the City of Saskatoon, Tourism Saskatoon, and the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority. Last May, a small contingent of key U of S planners attended Congress 2006 at York to learn what it takes to make such a huge event a success. Here are the lead players: • • • • • Congress 2007 Patron — President Peter MacKinnon Executive co-sponsors — Lea Pennock and Rick Bunt Congress Academic Convenor — Hans Michelmann Advisory Committee — Rick Bunt and Lea Pennock (co-chairs) Colin Tennant, Jo-Anne Dillon, Laura Kennedy, Heather Magotiaux, Cecilia Reynolds, Tom Wishart Core Planning Group — Academic Convenor Hans Michelmann (academic programming and cultural events), Paul Bidwell (co-convenor), Lynn Guina (finance and logistics), Susan Fillo (Congress administrator), Joan Tilk (sponsorship), and Kathryn Warden (communications). Special Event Co-ordinator — Jen Neilands Congress Facilities Manager — Cheryl Sedgewick A number of sub-committees have also been formed.

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“The campus must look its best and services must be first-class so we need everyone to work together to make this a successful event,” said Michelmann. “Our campus community is well on its way to becoming strongly engaged and committed to making this once-in-a-generation opportunity a tremendous success.”

*Look for more news and details about Congress 2007 at: Congress questions or suggestions can be directed to the Congress Office at 966-2055. For enquiries about this newsletter, please contact:

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