Congress comes to Carleton: A nine-day academic Olympics

There will be a SWAT team of custodians, people at 130 venues across campus at the same time and at least 30,000 cups of coffee served.

Welcome to the academic Olympics — and Carleton’s the host university.

For nine days starting on May 23, an estimated 8,000 academics from across North America and Europe will converge on campus for the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. And Ed Kane, assistant vice-president (University Services) — whose team is overseeing the logistics — is working to make it the “greenest” Congress yet.

In addition to organizing the academic presentations, the behind-the-scenes logistics are mind-boggling, says Kane.

His team has to ensure that there’s enough of everything, including food and technical support, and that there’s enough recycling bins around campus.

“It’s our goal that all materials going into Congress should be recycleable, compostable or reuseable,” Kane says of the May 23 to 31 event.

“Our aim is not to put anything into our local landfill site.”

And to that end, Kane has committed to planting a tree on campus for every ton of waste that is recycled or composed during Congress.

The environmentally friendly approach is a sign of the times, says Kane. When Carleton last hosted a Congress (called The Learneds) in 1993, the level of recycling on campus was “very low.”

“Every Congress is trying to be much more sustainable than in the past.”

“It’s a huge juggling act because we are keeping lots of plates spinning at the same time,” adds Kane.

Given the enormity of planning Congress, what’s Kane’s biggest fear?

“If it rains for nine days, that will be a different kind of Congress because people would have to be indoors. But there’s nothing we can do about that (the weather).”

Congress by the numbers:

  • Rooms in use for academic sessions: 998
  • Receptions planned by associations: 110
  • Catering/coffee breaks: 1,500
  • Rooms booked in residences: 1,350
  • Additional audio-visual technicians hired: 35
  • Publishers/exhibitions at Congress Bookfair: 160
  • Students employed by the Congress Federation: 80-plus
  • Additional plants on campus: 50 per cent
  • This entry was written by Maria McClintock and posted in the issue. Tags applied to this article are: . Leave a comment, bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

    Maria McClintock

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