Lake Nipissing South Shore (Northern Ontario Travel)
© Catherine Jenkins 2016
I enjoy travelling for conferences, but last July, I decided to stick closer to home. I submitted a proposal to the inaugural conference of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Collaboration in the Arts and Sciences (CICAS—pronounced kick-ass) on The Future of Human(ity) at Nipissing University in North Bay. It was an inexpensive conference to attend. I booked a Porter flight on sale, and stayed in a very comfortable and secure university residence for $40 a night. I explored downtown North Bay the first afternoon: not much to write home about. I did, however, enjoy a Lake Nipissing cruise and explored two handmade carousels near the waterfront.
Not meaning to sound judgemental, but I wasn’t expecting much of this conference. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at the calibre of papers and the international presence (yes, in North Bay). As well as plentiful papers from U Nipissing, other Canadian universities were represented by U of T, York, Waterloo, the Royal Military College, and, of course, Ryerson. A few folks came up from the States, from Georgetown and U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. What was more surprising was representation from Istanbul University, Delhi University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Jilin University, China. One of the keynotes was Canadian, but others hailed from RMIT University of Australia (in Canada for two whole days!), and two presented virtually, one from CUNY, and the other from U of Amsterdam. One delegate, originally from Ghana, had travelled from his university in China, to North Bay for the conference; he experienced a certain culture shock. The conference supported the kind of rich cultural diversity one sometimes sees at European conferences, but not necessarily Canadian ones, and certainly not what I anticipated in a small northern Ontario town.
Papers for this far-reaching interdisciplinary conference ranged from the coalescence of virtual with non-virtual realities, post-humanism in everything from the arts to the military, death tourism, apocalyptic futures, ecology, and big history. In terms of interdisciplinarity and ideas stretching academic conventions, it was one of the richest conferences I’ve attended. The point is that exciting and illuminating conferences can happen anywhere, even close to home, and even in a backwater like North Bay. One doesn’t have to travel, or spend a lot of money, to connect with people doing fascinating work; it can happen in one’s own backyard.
(See post below for abstract of the paper Catherine presented at this conference)