From the Ground Up: Civic Engagement in Our Time
80th Annual Couchiching Conference
August 4-7, 2011
Our contemporary world is experiencing anew what it means to be an engaged citizen, both collectively and individually. Over the past few months the world has borne witness to revolutionary changes sweeping the Arab world, spread through access to new media tools enabling populations to connect on issues of common concern. Similarly, in Canada, these new technologies are enabling new forms of engagement building on the changes we have seen over the past 20 years, including the development of social entrepreneurship, the establishment of corporate social responsibility principles, and the renewal of mega-philanthropy as demonstrated by Warren Buffet’s “Giving Pledge”. These have emerged with the hope that we can more effectively address the seemingly intractable challenges facing Canada and the world such as: environmental degradation; meeting the needs of those affected by wars and disasters; and social inequity. The essential question for the 2011 Couchiching Conference then is, does the early 21st century brand of engagement meet the challenges of our time?
Starting from that question, the 80th Anniversary Couchiching Conference will examine the roots, meaning and forms of engagement today. Wherever we look in Canada and across the globe, new forms of civic engagement – on the ground, in the street and the virtual world – appear to be reconfiguring the role of representative democracy and organized social life. Is the change simply one of form rather than substance or is it more lasting and fundamental? If the latter, have we sufficiently grasped the implications of this shift? With the proliferation of causes, is this change taking place in the absence of meaningful conversations about common societal goals?
Eighty years from its inception as the forum for engagement for Canadians from all walks of life, the 2011 Couchiching Conference seeks to probe the spirit of engagement in our times.
2016 Summer Conference
The Canada Project
Identity, Citizenship, and Nationhood in a Changing World
August 5-7, 2016
The YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre, Orillia, ON