Congress at Brock to bring 8,000 scholars to Niagara in May

In just under two months’ time, Brock University will welcome Canada’s largest academic gathering to its campus and to Niagara.

Organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress 2014 will bring 8,000 academics, researchers, policy-makers and practitioners together to share findings, refine ideas and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow.

“I think anyone who was here in 1996 (when the University last hosted Congress) will see Brock has grown in all directions, not just in student population,” says Jane Koustas, Brock’s academic convenor for Congress 2014.

For seven days from May 24 to 30, Congress at Brock – “Borders without Boundaries / Frontières sans limites” – will bring 70 learned societies and associations to the University.

“The theme Borders without Boundaries brings to mind not just our location on the Canada-U.S. border, but our intellectual GPS in a world where academic bearings are increasingly multidirectional, transdisciplinary and international,” says Douglas Kneale, Dean, Faculty of Humanities.

The gathering attracts delegates from every province and territory and from around the world, including our neighbours from Western New York State.

“In hosting Canada’s largest annual interdisciplinary conference, we succeed on both the global and local fronts,” adds Kneale. “We show the world Brock’s remarkable range of research and creativity in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and we contribute significantly to our local economy during the weeklong event.”

According to Congress officials, the event has the potential to generate approximately $10 million dollars in spinoff revenues for host communities.

As part of this year’s event, the University has organized a made-at-Brock program called “Congress Plus” that will showcase scholarly and creative research in the arts.

“Congress brings benefits to the community,” says Koustas. “As host institution for this year’s gathering, we’ve been hard at work preparing a robust academic and cultural program that we hope will be as intellectually provoking as it is entertaining.”

Brock’s Congress Plus includes close to 30 events, including theatre productions, concerts and lectures open to attendees, academics and community audiences.

Examples include a panel discussion that will examine WNED-TV Buffalo-Toronto’s The War of 1812 documentary from First Nations, Canadian and American perspectives, and a Thinkers Beyond Boundaries lecture series featuring three Brock professors.

The cultural program features poetry readings in both English and French, live theatre and cabaret, a performance by Momentum Choir – a choir of adults with disabilities – as well as an augmented reality installation of computer-generated visual and musical art derived from data sources like DNA and text, just to name a few.

Hospitality-wise the Federation and Brock are preparing to welcome the more than 8,000 attendees who, on average, spend about three days at the weeklong gathering.

“From a fleet of tour buses for excursions around Niagara to a special CongreLicious menu with more than a dozen downtown restaurants in St. Catharines, we’ve got our guests covered,” says Brad Clarke, Brock’s project manager for Congress. “Our community partners have been essential in helping to make this event a success for both Brock and Niagara.”

To date, the Federation has co-ordinated 3,000 room-nights at five hotels in St. Catharines and 10 hotels in Niagara Falls. They have also worked with the University to fill 110 paid contractor positions for Brock students and alumni, and community members to work at the event.

Furthermore, Brock staff are co-ordinating accommodations for up to 1,500 guests every night of the conference in residences on campus. University organizers are also looking for 400 volunteers to help with “anything and everything,” adds Clarke.

For more info about volunteering at Congress 2014, contact: Curtis Gadula, manager, Student Life and Community Experience at

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