Climate change. Political populism. An interconnected world of digital solitudes. STEM-focused universities chasing global rankings. In this context, why do the humanities still matter?

Due to the current situation with COVID 19, the PHH-O Steering Committee has decided to postpone the Human Matters conference to the summer of 2021. Find out more…

This conference is an opportunity for researchers in all fields to come together to discuss core questions in public-facing scholarship:

  • What is public scholarship?
  • Does it distract scholars from their vocation?
  • Who are the publics in this kind of scholarship?
  • How can people outside the academy contribute to and shape humanities research?
  • How can public scholarship be recognized within academia in professional evaluation and promotion?
  • How can public scholarship benefit the public most effectively?

Keynote Speakers

The conference will feature plenary addresses by scholars who are actively engaging with public-facing scholarship.

Jeannette Armstrong(Associate Professor, Indigenous Studies, University of British Columbia Okanagan) is an award-winning writer and activist, novelist and poet. Her writings have share the struggles of the Okanagan people with broad audiences.

Colleen Derkatch (Associate Professor, English, Ryerson University) focuses on how language motivates and shapes human activity. Applying this inquiry to health and medicine, she has analysed the use of language in scientific studies of alternative medicine, as well as the language of “wellness” and natural health.

Nick Groom (Professor, English, University of Macau) is an award-winning scholar whose interests include the connections between culture and the environment, British identity, Shakespeare, and Gothic literature. He is a regular contributor to television, radio, and literary festivals.

Dale Jamieson (Professor, Philosophy, New York University) is the author of Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle to Stop Climate Change Failed–and What It Means For Our Future (Oxford, 2014), and most recently, Love in the Anthropocene (OR, 2015), a collection of short stories and essays written with the novelist, Bonnie Nadzam.

Hannah McGregor (Assistant Professor, Publishing, Simon Fraser University) proposes that we can think of podcasting as a scholarly method that opens out new possibilities not just for the kinds of audience our work will reach but also for the nature of our work itself—and that it also has the potential to be a feminist method.

Henry Yu (Associate Professor, Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies: University of British Columbia Vancouver) is active in the collaborative effort to reimagine the history of Vancouver and of British Columbia through the lens of “Pacific Canada,” a perspective that focuses on how migrants from Asia, Europe, and other parts of the Americas engaged with each other and with First Nations peoples historically.

Conference Schedule

Human Matters: Engaging Publics in the Humanities will be held from July 8-11, 2020 in Kelowna. The full conference schedule will be available in the spring of 2020.

Panels consist of prepared papers on a chosen topic or theme, followed by a question and answer period. A complete panel must have three (3) to four (4) papers, with an option for one discussant. The chair may also serve as a discussant. Panels may propose a chair, or else make a request for the program committee to find a chair.

Roundtables/symposia consist of structured discussion of a chosen topic or theme, without any formal paper presentations. A complete roundtable must have a chair and three (3) to five (5) roundtable speakers. If necessary, the chair may also serve as a roundtable speaker.

Public-facing presentations or installations are opportunities to share your research with, and engage with, the public during a day of public engagement during the conference in downtown Kelowna.  Proposals for such presentations should clearly explain the format of such presentations and any logistical requirements. If necessary, a budget request may be submitted.

Submissions of individual papers will also be accepted.

Call for Papers

Proposals are invited for individual papers, organized panels, thematic roundtables/ symposia, and public-facing presentations or installations. Deadline: Feb. 5, 2020

Call for Papers



Registration will be open in spring 2020.

Information for visitors



As you start planning your trip, it is a good idea to start looking for a place to stay, spring and summer can be busy in the Okanagan! Find a place to stay, on or off campus.


Getting around

Salt and Brick, downtown Kelowna

Places to eat & drink

There are many places to eat on and off campus. Check out local wineries, breweries and cideries!


Things to do and see

The Okanagan offers a number of cultural and outdoor activities to do while you are in town.

UBC Okanagan

About our campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an intimate learning community embracing bold new ways of thinking. We attract exceptional students and faculty who aim to change the world.

Learn more