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What is the I.S. Conference?

The Interdisciplinary Studies (or I.S.) Conference is a unique part of a King’s education. For two days each term, regularly scheduled classes are cancelled so that the entire campus community can gather to explore questions about our world--questions that help us consider how to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world. It’s a space to make connections between what you are studying and the real world, to step back and look at the big picture, and to explore timely social and cultural issues.

There are two I.S. conferences per academic year--one in September, and one in January--from approximately 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. For dates of the upcoming conferences, see the Academic Calendar.

Every student at King’s who is enrolled in a total of nine credits or more is registered in the I.S. Conference. This is true whether or not you plan to transfer to another university. Each conference is worth 0.5 credits, and students need to pass a total of 3.0 credits (or six conferences) to graduate from King’s.

For more information, take a look at the questions below or this information sheet.

When registering for I.S., what is the difference between Discussion (D) and Paper (P) sections?

The Discussion (D) sections indicate that students will be assessed for this pass/fail course via a one-hour discussion group at the end of each conference day (usually from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.). If you are unable to attend both days until 3:30 p.m., you should NOT sign up for this option. Discussion groups are led by faculty members and engage in various activities related to the day’s focus and conversation. Many of these activities involve writing ideas on chart paper, debating with other students, and moving around the room. The design of the activities allows space for everyone to participate whether you are more outgoing or introverted.

The Paper (P) sections indicate that students will be assessed for this pass/fail course via a paper assignment that is given by a faculty member (often in your major/area of study) and due approximately two weeks after the conference ends. Students in this section still participate in the full two days of conference activities (from 9:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday to pick up your assignment, and until 2:30 p.m. on Thursday). You may also participate in small-group, talk-back experiences throughout the conference.

Not sure which to choose? We strongly suggest that all new students do the discussion section for their first (usually Fall) I.S. conference, as a way to check in and engage in the conference that gives you a chance to check in with a faculty member for anything you’re uncertain about.  Once you’ve tried that at least once, you’re free to choose either option in the future.

Many students with learning accommodations choose the paper option. If you require extra time to complete your assignment, you should choose the paper option. Otherwise, feel free to discuss which works better for you with the IS Director and/or the Student Support and Accessibility Office. If you have not already done so, please book an intake appointment to submit your documentation to Accessibility Services and register for learning accommodation supports.

Why is I.S. an important part of my education?

The I.S. conferences are a key feature of a King’s education, and whether you are here for one semester or for an entire degree, we want you to be part of the conversation on campus!

As part of the conference, you will be exposed to local professionals as well as renowned speakers from many different fields. The faculty dedicate two days each term for regularly scheduled classes to be cancelled so that students, faculty, and staff can gather for this unique experience.

I.S. gives students a chance to do the following:

  • Develop a complex understanding of issues in today's world.
  • Ask the big questions about what it means to be human, where meaning resides, and how to develop a faithful response.
  • Engage in critical thinking, problem solving, and analysis.
  • Think about the world outside of their discipline and make connections between different areas of study.
  • Explore creative models for building a more humane, just, and sustainable world through the lives and experiences of guest presenters.
  • Understand the connection between university study and the way they live both now and in the future.

When do the I.S. conferences take place?

They occur twice a year--usually the third week of September and third week of January. The exact dates are in the Academic Calendar. Information about the upcoming conference can be found online.

What do I need to do to pass I.S.?

The conferences are graded on a pass/fail basis. To pass, you need to do two things: attend the conference both days (9 to 3:30 p.m.) and complete the assignment. The assignment takes different formats, either a paper assignment or discussion section. The details are on the Moodle page for the current conference. Assignments are graded by members of the faculty, and you will be notified later in the semester of your pass/fail grade.

What if I need learning accommodations?

Working with Disability and Accommodation Services through Student Life, we are happy to provide what you need to get the most out of the I.S. Conference experience. Students requiring accommodation should first submit their documentation to Student Life (you may have already completed this), and then fill out the Exception Form noting what specific accommodation is requested. Some students might require a note-taker, extra time completing the assignment, or access to audio files.

What if I have a special circumstance (illness, death in the family, work, other) and miss part of the conference?

Because students are aware of the I.S. Conference dates for a minimum of one month in advance (usually longer), you are expected to arrange your work schedule and other responsibilities to allow you to attend both days from 9 to 3:30 p.m. Dates are available in the Academic Calendar for each school year.

We also know that life happens. If you need to miss any of the conference because of illness, a death in the family, or other circumstances, please fill out the Exception Form (found on Moodle) and submit it before the assignment due date, along with your documentation. Exception Forms without accompanying documentation will not be considered an excuse (e.g., illness without evidence of visit to a medicentre, note from doctor or hospital). If your request is approved, you will receive an alternate assignment to complete.

Your completed Exception Form and accompanying documentation should be submitted to Madison Holzmann (via the front desk mailboxes, in A-122, or emailed to

I’m planning to transfer to another institution. Do I still need to take I.S.?

Yes. Why? It's an important part of your King's education to be part of this all-campus conversation, and that is true whether you are with us for one semester or your entire degree. (see 'Why is I.S. an important part of my education?') 

How do I make up I.S. credits I have missed?

If you need to make up I.S. credits because you are a transfer student or did not pass a previous section of IS, you have several options:

  • If your schedule allows, you must continue to enrol in the conference for the upcoming term(s) to make up the credits.
  • If you don't have space in your schedule to make up enough credits, you can enrol in INST 499 and do a directed study. To do this, fill out an Application for Directed Study and review the directed study assignment options. Choose your assignment and fill out the Directed Study Syllabus form. After you have both forms completed, make an appointment to meet with I.S. Director Rebecca Warren (A-222, 780-465-8332) who will review/approve the forms. Your assignment must be completed by the agreed-upon date.

Who decides the topics? What if I have an idea for the conference?

The conference topics are decided by a combination of groups: the I.S. Faculty Committee, the I.S. Student Committee, and occasional student surveys.

We are always open to ideas from students on speakers or topics for future conferences! We also welcome your suggestions for breakout sessions. We have had several breakout sessions co-led by students and faculty members, and we would love for you to send a proposal (several months before the conference date).

Contact a member of the I.S. Faculty Committee or I.S. Student Committee (see below section) or I.S. Director Rebecca Warren. She is happy to chat about your ideas (A-222, 780-465-8332,

Who is on the I.S. Faculty Committee and the I.S. Student Committee?

The I.S. Faculty Committee consists of a representative from each faculty on campus. Current members are as follows: 

  • Lloyd den Boer (Education)
  • Neal DeRoo (Arts)
  • Amy Feaver (Science)
  • Gerda Kits (Social Science)
  • Daniel Kim (Business)
  • Tim Wood (Campus Minister)
  • Rebecca Warren (IS Director)

The I.S. Student Committee is a group of volunteers who share ideas on conference format and topics and sometimes assist with tasks during the conference like hosting speakers or breakout sessions. They are your ambassadors, so if you have suggestions you’d like to pass along, feel free to contact any of them!

  • Derrick Adams
  • Megan Apperloo
  • Ashley Barrett-Hamilton (Students' Association representative)
  • Grace Bigazi
  • Anna Boessenkool
  • Sara Himer
  • Brody Hite
  • Izzy Jones (Students' Association representative)
  • Caleb Koning
  • Karen Lietz
  • Amanda Nsofor
  • Ethan Soltys
  • Mark Unruh

Who can I contact with questions about I.S.?

Rebecca Warren, I.S. Director, is happy to talk with you about your questions and concerns. Her office is in the second floor academic wing in A-222. She can also be reached at 780-465-8332 and

You are also welcome to speak to any member of the I.S. Faculty Committee or I.S. Student Committee (see list of names in above question.)