9 reasons to get excited about ACFAS

Student affairs
Student life
Graduate students
Acfas 2024
Research and innovation
Abstract cartoon depicting Acfas research conference.
Graduate students involved in research in French on everything from artificial intelligence to health-care delivery in minority language communities are gearing up for the 91st Annual ACFAS Conference, which will take place on our campus from May 13 to May 17, 2024.

With over 200 symposiums on a wide range of scholarly topics, as well as fun, free events, you may want to consider attending too, given that it is the largest academic conference in the Francophone world.

1. It’s truly an honour to be hosting

ACFAS is a non-profit organization that for 100 years now, has promoted the advancement of science in French in Quebec, in French Canada, and among Francophones worldwide. This year, the central theme of the event will be “knowledge mobilization in French”, which truly speaks to the University of Ottawa’s leading role, both within the Francophonie and as one of Canada’s top ten research universities. Join the celebration and welcome the more than 6,000 participants.

2. Fun Science-Moi! activities are free

Every year, the ACFAS conference offers free events open to the public — and that includes you as a uOttawa student! The idea is to make science accessible and get people talking and thinking about amazing possibilities.

Here’s a few of our top picks:

  • Watch the 20 finalists of a Canada-wide competition in which PhD students explain their thesis in 180 seconds (three minutes). Sadly, there are no uOttawa finalists, but maybe next year! The national finals of Ma thèse en 180 secondes (MT180) will take place in the Alumni Auditorium in Jock Turcot Hall/UCU on Wednesday, May 15 at 7 p.m. Register to attend the Finale nationale MT180.

  • Listen to leading women scholars as they take their research to the streets of Ottawa. The Haut-parleuses event on May 12, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will see researchers from all disciplines talking about their findings and daily lives in Major’s Hill Park, the plaza outside the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of History and the Alexandra Bridge. Participants will include a uOttawa graduate student in artificial intelligence Beril Borali, 2022 PhD holder Catherine E. Déri who now teaches at the Faculty of Education, and Faculty of Education doctoral candidate Janelle Fournier. Turn out to support them and learn!

Check out the full list of Science-Moi! activities. Don’t forget that all events are in French only and you’ll need to register for some of them, even though they are free.

3. Volunteer and get full access for free

Students who sign up for at least two shifts will receive free registration to the conference! Contribute to the success of the largest Francophone multidisciplinary research event in Canada and save the $150 registration fee for students who are not ACFAS members. You’ll probably be helping delegates sign in and find their way to events. It’s a great chance to network with attendees from all over the world and connect with professors, researchers and other students.

Sign up to volunteer for the conference. You can also apply to join one of the Acfas volunteer teams through the Community Engagement Navigator on uoZone. Look for volunteer placement numbers 18 (Greeting and Orientation team), 19 (Green Brigade), 20 (Team Lead), and 21 (Technical Support).

4. Free research-focused events for graduate students and early-career researchers

If you’re staying in Ottawa this spring, or perhaps even taking spring-summer courses, add these interesting events to your calendar!

  • Want to learn more about artificial intelligence and its impact on work, teaching and research, as well as its effects on young researchers? Sign up to attend L’intelligence artificielle: questions, défis et opportunités pour la relève, a free panel discussion held on Monday, May 13, from noon to 2 p.m. at the FSS building.

  • Attend a ceremony to see who will receive five Relève de l’Acfas awards and six Vulgarisation de la recherche awards for 2023. These annual Acfas awards recognize the best graduate students in Québec and French-speaking Canada for the diversity and depth of their research, and for their creativity and originality in explaining their research in simple terms to laypeople. Sign up for the Remise des Prix Relève et du Concours de vulgarisation de la recherche de l’Acfas, which takes place on Tuesday, May 14, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the FSS building.
  • If you’re a graduate student or an early-career researcher just starting to delve deeper into your field of study, why not network with researchers at a world café-style event that aims to explore the sometimes indirect and diverse paths researchers can take. Sign up for 5 à 7 de la relève : Diversité des parcours en recherche to share your unique experience, meet colleagues and gain insights on diverse research careers. The event takes place on Wednesday, May 15 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at University Square on the main uOttawa campus.

5. Discover ground-breaking research taking place right here

Many of the conference’s research symposiums will feature uOttawa professors and graduate students and include multiple presentations and roundtable sessions. Our outstanding teaching will be front-and-centre as we highlight the accomplishments of our nationally and internationally renowned researchers and promote the immense potential of those following in their footsteps. No matter what discipline you’re studying, it’s a great chance to learn more about the research your professors and teaching assistants are conducting. You might get inspired to take your studies to the next level. Here are just a few examples:

  • Les révolutions qui s’annoncent en santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes. Alexander Maisonneuve (PhD ’19 in population health) will discuss shared decision-making for the care of children with attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity. He and his supervisor, Professor Philippe Robaey, will explore the use of AI and other innovations that offer hope for improving mental health services offered to children and adolescents.

  • Urbanisation planétaire, changement global et habitabilité. Part-time professor Nakeyah Giroux-Works, who is an environmental anthropologist and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Ottawa’s Centre de recherche sur le futur des villes, will be talking about ways citizens can re-green urban areas as part of this thoughtful symposium on the Anthropocene and the urbanization of the world. At least five other uOttawa researchers are presenting at this event.

  • Pourquoi il est impératif d’abolir le dispositif psychiatrique. The controversial topic of whether psychiatry should be abolished due to the adverse effects of treatment, including premature death, will be tackled at this multidisciplinary symposium. Megan Blanche, a master’s student in sociological and anthropological studies, will talk about the treatment of eating disorders in that context. At least five other uOttawa academics and others from institutions in France, Montreal and the Outaouais region will present their findings and take part in a free discussion.

See full program details (in French only).

6. Practice your French if you’re an Anglophone

As the largest bilingual (English-French) university in the world, with 15,000 students from across Canada and over 80 countries enrolled in its French-language programs, the University of Ottawa is proud to host the Acfas conference as a fantastic showcase that truly reflects our reason for being. Whether you’re from Val D’Or, Gatineau, Timmins, Moncton or Abidjan, it’s not every day that research conducted in French takes centre stage at an event that is entirely in French. If you’re a native English speaker who came to uOttawa to improve your French, this is an ideal opportunity to flex your language skills and witness research at the very forefront of every field. Immerse yourself!

7. Easy access to short videos and presentations online

You can learn about a ton of research topics very quickly through the Communications libres portion of the conference. This online forum presents a mind-blowing overview of the scale and scope of cutting-edge research conducted in French. Starting on May 6, researchers will begin posting short videos and visuals that summarize their research. Right now, you can begin browsing brief, written summaries of more than 450 research initiatives grouped into five main areas, namely: health sciences, STEM, humanities, social sciences and education. No matter what you’re studying, why not focus on your area of interest to discover the latest findings from all over the world? You’ll be sure to spot research by some of your professors. You might also get some great ideas for a thesis by looking at what’s been done before.

8. Free, thought-provoking special activities on campus

Here are a couple of other free events, held right here on campus, that are designed to get you thinking.

A roundtable discussion entitled Femmes et francophones dans l’environnement scientifique will bring together four Francophone researchers to discuss the role the French language plays in their scholarly activities, as well as the challenges they’ve faced as women balancing the demands of family and career. They will also discuss the possibilities offered by various research grant programs that allow them to continue their work. (Wednesday, May 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the FSS building).

The stigmatization of people who are living with mental health issues when they are accused of, or sentenced in, criminal offences will be addressed in Psychiatrie légale : une conversation avec l’honorable Michelle O’Bonsawin. Research on forensic psychiatry was a key part of the work conducted by Supreme Court Justice the Honorable Michelle O’Bonsawin before she was named to the highest court. Justice O’Bonsawin, who is also honorary chair of the Acfas conference, will share her knowledge and reflections on this major social issue. (Wednesday May 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Huguette Labelle Hall at Tabaret Hall).

9. A chance to engage with high-profile leaders

This is a unique opportunity to expand your intellect and hear first-hand from some top minds. The conference’s honorary chair is the Honourable Michelle O’Bonsawin, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and the academic co-chairs are uOttawa’s Chantal Backman, an associate professor at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, André Lecours, a full professor of political science at the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Ousmane Seidou, a full professor of civil engineering at the Faculty of Engineering. The University’s own Associate Vice-President of Research, Promotion and Development Martine Lagacé, who has conducted groundbreaking research on the psychosocial aspects of aging and the impact of age-based discrimination, is co-chairing the event with ACFAS Executive Director Sophie Montreuil.

Boost your academic career: register for the Acfas conference today!