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 playing host to 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, held from May 23 to 31, attracts academics and researchers from various studies 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.

With 4,000 presentations over nine days, there’s a series of events that is open to the public, Faulknor said.

In some cases, that means getting to hear lecturers like John Ralston Saul and David Foot, author of Boom Bust and Echo. The public can also attend a book fair featuring more than 150 publishers.

The event will also bring tourists to cultural attractions, restaurants and retailers, added Faulknor.

“For the city, this is significant,” she said. While 1,300 people will be staying on the Carleton campus, about 6,000 people are expected to require area accommodations. “This event definitely has the ability to transform a city.”