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.

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 and the community 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 attend, and to follow the assignment directions of the IS Director. The assignment takes different formats, a paper assignment, or a discussion. Sometimes, conferences are forced to go online - as in the case of restrictions due to COVID. In cases of online participation - you will need to watch videos presented and engage in discussions which can include facilitated Zoom sessions or online forums. 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?

Universal course design is applicable for the Interdisciplinary Studies Conference. This means that the course is offered with much flexibility. Since 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 to the requirements of the conference. 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 email the Director before the assignment due date, along with your documentation. Requests 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.

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.
  • Starting in January 2022, the special topics course "INST 399: the Architecture of Individuation" is offered for those students with 60 credit hours of study, and having already completed INST200 &210 - or by permission of the instructor.
  • 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 [content:253] 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 Dr. Kris Ooms, Vice President Academic.

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: 

Dr. Caitlyn Myburgh, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology
Mr. Andrew Kirk, Assistant Professor, Education
Dr. Daniel Kim, Assistant Professor, Leder School of Business
Dr. Joshua Harris, Assistant Professor, Philosophy
Dr. David Long, Professor, Sociology
Mr. Tim Wood, Campus Minster
Raymond Klassen (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. Currently, the IS student Committee is looking for volunteers to join the committee. If you are interested, please contact Dr. Kris Ooms, Vice President Academic.

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

Dr. Kris Ooms, Vice President Academic, is happy to talk with you about your questions and concerns. He can be reached via email or at 204-573-6837.

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.)