2010 congress seeks research  

By Russ Cooper

Ron Rudin Magnifying glass

Ron Rudin

As part of his role as the Academic Convenor for the 2010 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, History Professor Ronald Rudin is beginning to tour the faculties to encourage participation for the sizable conference to be held here next spring.

"We're going to have thousands of people coming here to participate in the congress," says Rudin. "We have an amazing opportunity to show what's happening here at Concordia."

Formerly known as the Learneds Conference, this is the largest annual multidisciplinary academic gathering in Canada, attracting delegates from universities in every province and territory in Canada, as well as from around the world.

From May 28 to June 4, 2010, Concordia is expecting roughly 8 000 delegates – both faculty and graduate students – representing 70 different learned societies from many disciplines and sub-disciplines. The gathering will allow Concordia to showcase its facilities, especially the new home of the John Molson School of Business, to be completed later this year.

To gather support, Rudin will be visiting departments in search of those interested in presenting their research to the droves of delegates, or to take a lead role in the meetings of their particular association.

"We're looking to engage faculty who haven't paid attention to congress in the past," he says. "We're hoping to create partnerships inside and outside the university that'll further the university's research profile. It's a great chance to further establish Concordia's place among Canada's most dynamic universities."

To help distinguish 2010 from past editions, Rudin and the congress team is aiming to focus upon significant issues of interest to researchers across a wide range of disciplines. The theme of Connected Understanding/Savoir branchée will address such questions as the impact of digital technology on scholarly research and research creation. Other connections will also be explored such as the links between scholars in different fields and the ties between researchers and larger audiences beyond the academic world.

In this context, one significant topic up for discussion, Rudin points out, is open access to research produced at universities. While most research is publicly funded, publications that reference that research are frequently inaccessible unless they are acquired through a journal subscription.

"We are currently having a discussion about open access policies within Concordia, but I'm not sure we'd be having this discussion if the congress weren't coming here," says Rudin. "In the past, there hasn't been the tendency for large issues like this to have a place at congress. By emphasizing such a topic, it'll make congress more vibrant."

"My view is that we have to think about how Concordia's involvement can make a real change after the crowds have gone home. Hopefully, there will be a legacy."

Over 300 staff and 110 students will participate in the implementation and execution of the congress, which will take place in 150 to 200 classrooms per day throughout Concordia's downtown campus.

Still 16 months before the launch, Rudin and the congress team are already making significant progress. But more than that, the team is extremely excited about the congress – the first time Concordia has played host.

"For universities which have hosted congress before, the 'wow' factor may have diminished a bit, but we're very conscious to present Concordia at a different level," says Rudin. "I think our advanced planning shows our commitment to doing this really well. I think we're in good shape to make it one to remember."


Concordia University