Get ready Carleton — Congress is coming!

From May 23 to 31, our university is hosting the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. During those nine days, an estimated 8,500 delegates from all over North America and Europe will arrive on campus to participate in 4,000 presentations — including more than 250 by Carleton faculty and graduate students.

For over 75 years, these “academic Olympics” have been the meeting place for leading public intellectuals, authors, artists, researchers, scholars and students in the humanities and social sciences. Congress is organized annually by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS) in conjunction with a host university.

The Presentations

Melissa Haussman
Associate Professor, Political Science
Congress Division Chair for Gender and Politics

Title of Presentation:
Federalism and Abstinence-Based Education in the U.S.

Description of Presentation:
This presentation is based on a chapter of a book I am writing (co-editing with Marian Sawer and Jill Vickers) called Gender and Multi-Level Governance. It focuses on the role of the U.S. federal division of powers and the implementation of “abstinence- based” education under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and its effect on the “policy space” affecting women.

Why is it important and what impact could it have?
This multi-year project is important to all Canadians because it enables us to understand how Canada and other countries could be governed better, with an eye toward highlighting the needs of women — who make up 51 per cent of the population — in policy deliberations. This project is ground-breaking because it brings together two sets of literature which have worked independently up until now: the mechanisms of multi-level governance and federalism and questions about how policy is made to reflect all women.

Some examples of this book’s combination of multi-level governance theories and gender-friendly public policy are the following: The 2009 Canadian federal budget deliberations, maternal health in Russia and anti-poverty policy in Canada and Mexico and health care and child care in Australia.

Our project covers at least 10 countries on nearly every continent. The fact that these presentations at Congress (CPSA) offer such a wide exploration of issues gives the public an opportunity to gain a broader understanding of women’s needs across the globe.

What can Carleton do to make this the “greenest” Congress ever?
We could probably start by doing one of the most basic things: Recycle as much as we can.


Graham Smart
Associate Professor, School of Linguistics and Language Studies

Title of Presentation:
The climate change debate in Asia and North America: A study in discourse coalitions and discursive illusions.

Description of Presentation:
My co-presenter Aditi Bhatia and I analyze the language of different professional organizations — government ministries, environmental NGOs and policy think-tanks — to see how these organizations construct and publically communicate arguments regarding the reality, impacts, and remediation of global climate change. The study is comparative: We examine the collective construction of arguments by opposing groups of like-minded organizations in two regions, Asia and North America. Against this backdrop, we discuss similarities and differences in the climate change arguments advanced by the governments of China, India, Canada, and the U.S., identifying key socio-political factors shaping the positions of these four countries.

Why is it important and what impact could it have?
The international debate over global climate change is one of the most important political developments of the early 21st century. As the debate plays out in the public arena, various organizations such as government agencies, environmental NGOs, policy think-tanks, business corporations, Aboriginal associations, and religious groups are active in advancing arguments on the reality, impacts and remediation of climate change.

In order to participate effectively in democratic decision-making on the issue of climate change, Canadians need to be literate in recognizing and critically assessing the scientific, political, economic, ideological, and ethical aspects of these arguments. This specialized form of literacy is particularly important in the lead-up to the UN-sponsored climate change meetings in Copenhagen this December.

The forum will offer the nations of the world an opportunity to forge a long-term international agreement on reducing emissions of CO2 and mitigating the effects of climate change. Much will be at stake in Copenhagen, and for Canadians wishing to participate in the debate as informed observers or advocates, the literacy of argumentation described above is essential.

What can Carleton do to make this the “greenest” Congress ever?
To provide opportunities for Congress attendees to learn more about the different positions on climate change that the Canadian government and other national governments will be presenting at the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen later this year.


Kathleen Day
Masters student, School of Linguistics and Language Studies

Title of presentation:
Can I Come In? An Examination of Evolution in Canada’s Immigration Process

Description of Presentation:
Ms. Day’s presentation centers on the changes to the immigration process over the past two decades, focusing on the process required to sponsor a spouse to come to Canada.

“It’s looking at what the immigration process was in 1986 and comparing it with 2004, looking at how much more complicated it got between these two dates, as well as a little bit of speculating on why,” Day explains. Day, who twice sponsored her husband, discovered there were two forms in 1986, which took about five hours to complete. In 2004, there were 10 forms which took over 100 hours to fill out. Two decades ago, the visa arrived within month, compared to 2004, when it took seven months.

Why is it important and what impact could it have?
This research offers an example of a recurrent process in society. “From the government end, we have applications being submitted over and over, but for the applicants, it’s a one-time thing. So for each individual who applies, it is unique to them, but for the country, it is recurrent and that’s an interesting social phenomenon that our society has to deal with,” Day explains.
From a more practical perspective, it is important to understand a bit of how complex the bureaucracy administering our society has become.

“Just to live in our society is bureaucratically weighty, and this is a good example of how something that used to be fairly simple has become complex. I’m not convinced on a personal level that it’s more effective, but it certainly makes work for civil servants and lot of hoops for people to jump through,” she explains.

“I think we want to screen people adequately — I think most people would agree with that — but some of the ways that it’s done, it takes an awful lot of effort. Are we getting, as country, what we want out of it?” She adds that her research, if it was published, might help those who design these processes by making them “less verbose and more effective.”

What can Carleton do to make this the “greenest” Congress ever?
To ensure that delegates have wireless Internet access to minimize the need to print pages of paper.


James Wright
Assistant Professor, School for Studies in Art and Culture

Title of presentation:
Glenn Gould’s Conception of Performance as Slavery

Description of Presentation:
Wright asks why Gould left the concert stage in 1964, at the height of his career. He analyzes Gould’s criticisms about the act of performing, including “the uncreative aspect of dragging out the same repertoire over and over again, and the lack of intimacy.” Wright says Gould “saw the idea of competition as being antithetical to art, and felt that live performance was all about impressing people — more like a public competition than creating works of art or touching listeners.” Instead, Gould felt that a performer could reach the listener directly on the radio or on a recording.

Why is it important and what impact could it have?
It is important for Canadians to be aware of Gould’s work and ideas not only because of his music, but also because of his role as a visionary and an extraordinarily important influence on music. Canadians need to have a better understanding of Glenn Gould because even though Gould died in 1982, his ideas are still being explored.
Gould is arguably the greatest pianist of the 20th century and was interested in playing non-standard repertoires. He is a huge international figure and is particularly revered in Japan, Germany, and Austria — where there is more awareness of his work than in his native country.

Canadians’ understanding of Gould should go beyond his music and encompass him as a thinker, philosopher and as a communications guru, similar to Marshall McLuhan, Wright argues, because Gould is a very interesting character and an incredible visionary who was ahead of his time.

“He was looking ahead to an age where media and technology would be an increasingly important mediator between the artist and the public. That was incredibly forward-looking — nobody in the ’60s was talking about that,” Wright explains. Gould saw technology as “the emancipation of the performer from the fetters of live performance.”

Gould’s influence continues today, as he is now inspiring a new generation of thinkers and musicians.

What can Carleton do to make this the “greenest” Congress ever?
Carleton could focus on minimizing the transportation necessary for delegates by housing them close to campus, as well as encouraging greener methods of transportation by offering free transit passes.


Jaffer Sheyholislami
Assistant Professor, Department of Linguistics and Language Studies

Title of presentation:
Blogging and the Construction of a Learning Community in Class

Description of Presentation:
Considering the growing genre of blogging in the community, the workplace and academe, Prof. Sheyholislami’s paper identifies the affordances of the blog in schools and the challenges its use poses. This research reports on the level of student involvement in blogging in university courses, their attitudes and their assessment of its pros and cons.

Sheyholislami suggests that in spite of any challenges, blogging encourages writing to learn, to negotiate meaning and to maintain and foster a healthy dialogue beyond the classroom, and that it contributes to the construction of a learning community.

Why is it important and what impact could it have?
The number of blogs has grown from several hundred in the late 1990s to more than 80 million today, according to Sheyholislami. A recent Ipsos Reid poll, he says, indicates 34 per cent of Canadian adults have visited blogs at one time or another and those with higher levels of education are more likely to do so.

“This generation,” says Sheyholislami, “reads more on the screen than on paper and this could also be true of their writing.”

Sheyholislami argues that blogging could well be beneficial for students as it encourages them to do more writing.

“It improves learning and critical thinking in this information society, and it is something students need to do beyond the school walls, in the workplace and in the community, for personal expression and growth.”

Current research, he says, shows that blogging is good for building a community of writing and learning. Sheyholislami is studying students’ personal reflections on the blogging practice in university courses.

“I’m also very interested in suggestions students make to improve our use of blogging in courses. My study aims to understand the affordances and constraints of blogging in the academe. As teachers, we strive to use the most effective strategies that not only enhance teaching and learning but also foster the social and personal well-being of our students. The Internet and the blog can offer a new environment for creating new ways of teaching and learning.”

What can Carleton do to make this the “greenest” Congress ever?
Carleton can take steps to use less paper by utilising electronic media, computers and the Internet to the fullest extent.


Rianne Mahon
Chancellor’s Professor and Director of the Institute of Political Economy

Title of presentation:
Transnationalizing (Child) Care Policy: The OECD and the World Bank

Description of Presentation:
As part of their recent focus on “social investment,” the OECD and the World Bank are advocating and supporting public investment in child care and child development programs. Prof. Mahon reflects on the widely differing arguments for investing in child care and development offered by these organizations.

Why is it important and what impact could it have?
Prof. Mahon will focus her Congress presentations on child care policy, which she believes remains an important issue in Canada.

It is especially significant, she says, “as the federal transfers associated with the multilateral framework agreement of an earlier Liberal government are about to come to an end, threatening the closure of more than 20,000 child care spaces in Ontario alone.”

While Mahon will examine the child care movement within Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governmental systems, she will also look beyond the Canadian context of child care and child development to discuss how global post-war welfare and development regimes have been modified from here-and-now equality to equality of opportunity over the course of a lifetime.

“Both northern and southern versions of the child care policy discourse reflect the impact of growing global interest in early child development,” she says.
There are also important differences in the southern and northern versions of child care policy.

In southern countries, for example, organizations like the World Bank draw on the American social policy model which emphasizes developing one’s capabilities. In contrast, the Western European experience, which recommends universal programs in the name of gender equality and the rights of the child, influences the child care policy discourse directed at OECD countries, says Mahon.

What can Carleton do to make this the “greenest” Congress ever?
At one conference I attended, special bags were issued. Mine has served as a shopping bag ever since. Also, rather than “paper rooms,” allow access to submitted papers online.

For more information about Congress, go to http://carleton.ca/DUC/congresscountdown/

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