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Past Initiatives & Projects

Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences 2018

The Many Gods of Canada: Secularism, Religion and Public Policy.  This unique two-day symposium, which ran from Oct. 18 to 19, 2017, explored approaches to navigating the intersections of religion and secularism in Canada today.

The event brought together leading thinkers for two days of illuminating discussion, debate, and deliberation on Indigenous Spirituality, Religion and Public Space, Balancing Freedom of Religion, Gender and LGBTQ2 Rights; and Free Speech and Freedom from Hate.

The opening lecture was led by John Ralston Saul, leading Canadian author, philosopher and public intellectual, who discussed why and how Canada remains the most successful pluralistic nation in the world.  The second day featured a number of highly acclaimed speakers participating in panel discussions on the different topics.

Speakers included:         

  • Chief Richard Atleo (Umeek) from Victoria – author, environmentalist, philosopher, and founder of Aboriginal Studies Program in British Columbia and elsewhere
  • Prof. Lori Beaman, University of Ottawa, Canada Research Chair, Religion in a Diverse Canada
  • Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, the first woman President of the Toronto Board of Rabbis
  • Kimberly Murray, former Executive Director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, currently Ontario Assistant Deputy Attorney General
  • Mark Freiman, former president of Canadian Jewish Congress
  • Jim Turk, Distinguished Visiting Professor and Director of Ryerson’s Centre for Free Expression, and
  • Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, City of Toronto.

Many Gods Symposium / Pam Sugiman, Dean of Arts and Anver Saloojee, AVP, International

From May 27 to June 2, Ryerson hosted Congress 2017 (external link, opens in new window) , Canada's largest academic gathering. Hosted by the Faculty of Arts and organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (external link, opens in new window) , the 86th annual conference attracted more than 10,000 delegates to the campus, the largest to date.

Themed The Next 150, On Indigenous Lands, the event aimed to reflect on the nation’s past and build new relationships toward positive change and reconciliation, all against the background of the country’s sesquicentennial celebrations.

Luminaries, researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and students from across Canada and abroad met, shared ideas and engaged in discussions that have direct importance for Canada and the lives of Canadians.

During the week-long conference, delegates attended over 300 events, ranging from interdisciplinary lectures to cultural programs such as film screenings, social justice walks, bike tours, KAIROS blanket exercise and more. More than 5,400 research papers were presented by researchers from 70 associations. Among the renowned speakers were Harvard professor Dr. Cornel West as well as renowned Indigenous musican and academic Leanne Simpson. Ottawa-based Indigenous band A Tribe Called Red was among the many highlights.


An app, the Ryerson Mobile App, was developed by the Faculty of Arts to help conference-goers easily navigate around the campus. This app, which featured colour-coded, stylized floor plans with accessible text and icons as well as wayfinding signage, was downloaded more than 1,200 times from iTunes and Google Play during the conference.

Congress 2017 / A highlight reel of the many activities, people and research featured at the event.