Some of North America's brightest minds are Ottawa-bound as Carleton University prepares to host an event dubbed the "Intellectual Olympics" in late May.

 

For the first time since 1993, the university is hosting the 78th annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, an event estimated to bring between 8,000 and 9,000 academics from across Canada and the U.S. to the nation's capital.

 

The largest multidisciplinary academic gathering in North America, the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences -- held from May 23 to 31 -- attracts academics and researchers from studies such as ethics, the history and philosophy of science, international development, political science, social work, communications, literature, geography, theatre and religion and acts as a forum to share ideas.

 

"It's also a chance for them to present their research," said Alison Faulknor, director of programs of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

 

But the average Ottawa resident, years out of school, will also be able to benefit from the event.

With 4,000 presentations over nine days, there's a series of events that are open to the public, Faulknor said, and in some cases, that means getting to hear lecturers like John Ralston Saul and David Foot, author of Boom Bust and Echo, as well as local speakers. The public will also be able to attend a book fair that features more than 150 publishers.

"For the city, this is significant," Faulknor said. While 1,300 people will be staying on the Carleton campus, about 6,000 people are expected to require area accommodations -- good news for the local economy. The event will also bring tourists to cultural attractions, restaurants and retailers, added Faulknor.

"This event definitely has the ability to transform a city," she said.