Innovating for a world of change

Posted on Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A dozen lines connect many points of light on a world map

Faculty of Law professor Errol Mendes, academic director of the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue, discusses some highlights of the Canada 150 Conference on Innovation and Globalization. The event will be hosted by uOttawa at the Global Centre for Pluralism from November 29 to December 1, 2017.


Professor Errol Mendes

Canada, like all countries, is contending with the impact of disruptive technologies and automation in a globalized world. More than ever, we need to collaborate widely in seeking creative solutions to cope with this new environment and capitalize on any opportunities it presents.

The role of universities in fostering an interdisciplinary approach to tackling the world’s most complex challenges is especially urgent now. Philanthropist, Jeopardy!  host and uOttawa alumnus Alex Trebek has made a generous donation to the University so that we can hold major events like this one every year. And he loves the idea of breaking down the silos — within universities and between academe and the wider world — to grapple with the pressing issues of our time.

This conference is the result of almost two years of discussion among internationally renowned scholars at uOttawa, including Colleen Flood, Monica Gattinger, Patrick Leblond, Stewart Elgie, Peter Jaskiewicz and Marc Saner. An impressive and diverse group of people from government, the private sector and civil society stepped forward to work with us on this. Here are just a few of our many outstanding panellists:

  • Gabriela Ramos, a senior official at the prestigious, multilateral Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, will take part in a panel on trade and the future of work.
  • Molly Shoichet, the University of Toronto’s 2017 Killam Prize winner, celebrated for her work on tissue engineering, will join other leading researchers in discussing whether developments in science and medicine have outpaced society’s ability to ensure they do no harm.
  • Michael Froomkin from the University of Miami and uOttawa’s Ian Kerr are among the thought leaders who will look at legal and ethical issues surrounding automated technologies in our health systems.
  • Stephen Baranyi and Thomas Juneau, global studies and security experts at uOttawa, will examine the increasingly complex challenges involving fragile states, along with Larisa Galadza, director general at Global Affairs Canada, and Irène Esambo, a leading Congolese conflict resolution advocate and counsel at the International Criminal Court.
  • Claudette Commanda, Algonquin elder in residence at the Faculty of Law, will take part in a panel that will consider how Canada can respond innovatively to the urgent need for reconciliation with Indigenous people. Justice Harry LaForme and McMaster University’s Chelsea Gabel will also participate in the panel.

Keynote speakers at the conference include David Johnston, former governor general; Navdeep Bains, federal minister of innovation, science and economic development; Senator Murray Sinclair; Deb Matthews, Ontario deputy premier; and uOttawa professor Chad Gaffield, president of the Royal Society of Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and several other cabinet ministers have been invited to attend.

We anticipate many stimulating conversations among the more than 100 participants, who will include a number of students attending at no cost. And we hope to see new collaborations emerge among the various players who will need to join forces to address the major challenges facing Canada and the world.

Learn more about the Canada 150 conference.

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