Jan. 4, 2016

Faculty to host Compassion Day at 2016 Congress with Margaret Atwood

On May 29 as part of the 85th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, the faculty will be hosting an interdisciplinary day of compassion, the brainchild of assistant professors Shane Sinclair and Graham McCaffrey

Shane Sinclair, research professor (left) and Graham McCaffery, associate dean, undergraduate progra

The Faculty of Nursing will be hosting an interdisciplinary day on compassion on Sunday May 29 as part of the 85th Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences to be held at the University of Calgary from May 28 to June 3 2016.

The brainchild of assistant professors, Shane Sinclair (PhD’09) and Graham McCaffrey (PhD’12), who share a mutual research and practical interest in the topic, “Compassion Under Contemporary Conditions: A dialogue with leading scholars and community leaders” aims to spark conversation and debate around some of the realities of compassion.

“We want to get away from the idea that compassion is only up to individuals and look at how social environments help or hinder the expression of compassion’,” says McCaffrey who is also associate dean, undergraduate programs. “This day will be for anyone who is concerned about whether compassion is under pressure in daily life.”

The event kicks off with a keynote by Canadian author Margaret Atwood that will be open to everyone, not just those attending the full day’s panel discussions.

“Atwood has never spoken on the subject of compassion, but much of her writing seems to be underpinned with the concept,” explains Sinclair, research professor in cancer care. “She will energize us to look at compassion in the same way she engaged people around examining debt in the 2008 Massey Lectures.”

Following Atwood’s keynote address, there will be three breakout panels: compassion in health care; compassion in the classroom; and compassion in the community. Each session will have a lead University of Calgary academic to provide an overview of the topic, and a panel composed of individuals who are “in the trenches, people actively working in the area of compassion,” says Sinclair.

“The end result will be food for thought. We are hoping participants will be compelled to take action: to take what they learn and make small or large changes in their lives and, in their community.”

It is anticipated that more than 8,000 scholars in the humanities and social sciences will attend Congress, the largest annual academic gathering in Canada. While registration for the Congress itself begins in January, the interdisciplinary events will not be open up to registrants until later in the winter. Please visit congress2016.ca/program/symposia for updates.