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Meeting Points: Imagination and Space for Social Change

Meeting Points: Imagination and Spaces for Social Change

August 26-27, 2019

Saint Paul University


Meeting Points: Imagination and Space for Social Change is an interdisciplinary conference aiming to create opportunities for meaningful exchanges between academics, practitioners and the community. Creative solutions involving multiple stakeholders are needed today to respond to growing tensions in communities and social constituencies around issues such as inclusion, representation and sustainable engagement with ‘the commons’ (Sabbagh and Schmitt, 2016).

Bridging reflection and action to design creative solutions calls for holistic worldviews, engaged leadership and a platform to learn from experiences. The objective of this conference is to offer such a platform. The event will host a variety of contributions focused on imagination and spaces that help inform the possibilities for creative engagement and meaningful connections leading to constructive social change. Discussions will touch on the following themes:

Imagination and Social Change

  • Cultivating imagination: dimensions of the individual and collective imagination; the role of education in cultivating these imaginations; barriers to imagination and stalled development.
  • Understanding imagination: moral dimensions of the imagination; imagination and spiritual experiences; imagination, mind and body; power and imagination.
  • Being responsible with imagination: dynamics of imagination, creativity and innovation; role of imagination in sustainability; responsible leadership and imaginative practice.


Space and Social Change

  • Listening to spaces: dynamics of particular social and/or political spaces; social movements and protest space; potentialities in sonic spaces.
  • Improvising spaces: spaces and improvised practices; the role of disruption and risk in building social connections; space and the creative process; boundaries and shifting spaces.
  • Resonating with spaces: conscious presence in shared spaces; holistic approaches to ‘the commons’; spaces for collective leadership and transformation.

In the spirit of creative interdisciplinarity, sessions include both paper presentations and experiential, participatory workshops. The conference will also dedicate time and a shared space for collective brainstorming informed by the themes of imagination and spaces, as well as by the insight emerging from the sessions. Please note that the submission of abstracts is now closed, but registration is open to both presenters and non-presenters. The conference program will be made available later in the summer.


Keynote Speakers

Dr. Alexandra Fidyk, University of Alberta

Reconceptualizing Wellbeing & Social Change: Learning to Live Through the Body

Drawing upon participatory research conducted with vulnerable youth, imagination, space, and relations are revisioned through an animated paradigm – a worldview that recognizes the dynamic, discontinuous, violent, yet extraordinary cosmos in which we live. What happens when imagination is welcomed through the mind and body? How might space be reconfigured when subjective experience is one of safety and trust? In what ways might relations constitute a new ethic for community and social change? In address of these questions and others, insights via research moves and participant experiences via a unique transdisciplinary praxis will be shared.



Dr. Elizabeth Jackson, Community Engaged Scholarship Institute, University of Guelph

‘Flowers in the Potholes: Opening space for critical, creative intervention’

In her presentation, Dr. Jackson reflects on the ways in which creative interventions in conventional ways of using and engaging with public spaces can create hopeful  disruptions and moments of possibility, offering the potential for new ways of  engaging with each other and the world around us. She shares examples from her own personal–professional experience across a range of modalities, and posits that even seemingly small gestures and moments of creatively 'mis-behaving in public' – that is, of resisting or refuting normative expectations around who and how we are in public spaces – can help us to imagine and to enact the more just, inclusive, and even joy-filled futures to which so many of us aspire.


Mr. Martin RutteProject Heaven on Earth 

‘The Ultimate Inquiry:  Why are You Here?’

Discover the 3 questions that lead us to our ultimate purpose on the planet. Martin  Rutte explains how these questions guide us on the path to uncovering not only our  true selves but also the purest essence of all humanity. 




Dr. Jesse StewartCarleton University

‘The spaces of musical improvisation’

This keynote talk will discuss some of the spaces in which the mode(s) of music making known variously as free improvisation, creative improvised music, free music, or simply improvised music developed historically before transitioning to a discussion of community-based improvised music practices as spaces for imagination, hope, and  social transformation.

Photo credit: Hasi Eldib 


Conference Program

Please click here to view the Book of Abstracts. For the finalized conference program, please click here


Registration Information

Registration opens on May 15, 2019, until August 19, 2019. Registration and payment of fees is to be completed online.


Registration fees for both days of the conference include two lunches and one evening meal:

  • Regular rate                           CAD $230
  • Graduate student rate             CAD $120

For any questions about registration, email PSTLS@ustpaul.ca. Please note that the conference will be held in English only.


Accommodation and Travel Information

The conference is hosted by the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario. Situated in the Old Ottawa East area of the city, the campus is accessible by bus from downtown (Rideau Centre: Route 5 towards Billings Bridge, http://www.octranspo.com/index.php/). Paid parking is available on site or nearby. 

Accommodation needs to be arranged by participants separately. Please note that the conference will run from Monday morning to Tuesday late afternoon. Below are some suggestions:


Budget option

Attendees may wish to stay at the Saint Paul Residence, which is next door to the main building hosting the conference (https://saintpaulresidence.ca/your-room/). We have reserved a block of rooms specifically for the conference: these rooms will be guaranteed until June 25. After that date, you may still contact the Residence to enquire about availability, but we cannot guarantee space.


Please note the accommodation details for staying at the Residence:

Accommodation is provided as a two-bedroom suite. A suite consists of two spacious independent guest bedrooms, each with a double bed and a desk. The two bedrooms share a bathroom with shower, and a kitchenette complete with sink, microwave and fridge, and internet access.

The cost of a suite is $120 plus tax per night. If you wish to share a suite with a fellow attendee, the cost will then become $60 plus tax per night, providing there is double occupancy.

If you want to book a suite or a room in a suite, please contact us at PSTLS@ustpaul.ca before June 25 and indicate the following information in your message:

  • The dates of your stay (arrival date and time; departure date)
  • Whether you would like to book a full suite or are interested in sharing the suite with another person.
  • If you have agreed with a fellow attendee to share the suite, both of you need to contact us and mention the name of the colleague you would like to share the suite with.
  • If you are interested in sharing a suite but do not know fellow attendees, the conference organizers will attempt to accommodate requests to share a suite. Please note that we may not be able to pair up every attendee to share costs. In this circumstance, you will be charged the full rate of $120 plus tax per night.
  • To guarantee your reservation, we ask that you provide a credit card number along with your request, as well as your full name and contact email. Your card will not be debited until your stay at the Residence. You can cancel your booking at the Residence prior to June 25 without any fees by contacting us. However, you will be charged in full if you cancel your booking from June 26 onwards.
  • We will confirm all bookings and eventual pairing of attendees before June 25.


Other options


Conference Organizers

For questions about the conference, please email the organizers:

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