ISCAR 2017: Québec City’s attracts Canadian first


Nearly 600 participants from over 70 countries recently travelled to Québec City for the 5th International Congress of the International Society for Cultural-historical Activity Research (ISCAR). Held every three years, this event, which took place from August 27 until September 1, 2017, brings together researchers, theorists and practitioners from around the world to discuss multidisciplinary theoretical and empirical research on social, cultural and historical human practices.


After being held in Spain, the United States, Italy and Australia, it was Canada’s (first!) turn. Dr. Fernand Gervais, Dean of the Faculty of Education at Université Laval, was President of the congress’ organization committee—and spearheaded Québec City’s bid to host the event.

He and his team, along with the help of Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club and the Québec City  Convention Centre, created a bid that not only sold the city but also its event infrastructure and logistics capabilities as well as its research credibility in the field. “

Québec City is so easy to sell; it’s a promotional tool unto itself,” said Mr. Gervais. “Québec City is a quintessential European city in the heart of North America.

“Québec City is so easy to sell; it’s a promotional tool unto itself,” said Mr. Gervais. “Québec City is a quintessential European city in the heart of North America. We demonstrated to the society’s governing body just how much the city’s historical and cultural fabric would be the perfect backdrop for the event and the topics we would cover.”

While Mr. Gervais and his team are still collecting feedback from delegates, he already knows that the event was a tremendous success. “We invested in event marketing to attract both attendees and good keynote speakers. We were able to entice some pretty big names to come to the congress thanks also in part to the themes and topics we created,” he noted.

But as Mr. Gervais explained, any researcher looking to organize such a large-scale event cannot go it alone. “Sure, as a part of academia, researchers are detailed-oriented and methodical—which comes in extremely handy when organizing an event. However, it’s only when you are in the throes of putting together a conference or convention do you realize that you are an academic—not an event planner!”

ISCAR 2017’s planning committee relied on the experts from Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club and the Québec City Convention Centre to carry out the logistics. “The devil is in the details,” Mr. Gervais added. “And details there are!”

From organizing travel and accommodations to off-hours activities to ensuring each presentation, everything went off without a hitch, Mr. Gervais credits the logistics team for getting everything done so that he and his team could focus on the congress’ subject matter. “There are two things that attendees will remember about the event. Were the topics compelling? That’s our job. And did they have a great experience? That’s the logistics team’s job. Any scientific body looking to organize an event that attendees rave about need to be supported by rock-solid event professionals,” he said. “That is the key to event success.”

And in ISCAR 2017’s case, the rest is history.

Cercle des Ambassadeurs
Québec City Ambassadors Club

Québec City Ambassadors Club offers step-by-step assistance to Québec leaders to attract and hold North American and international meetings and conventions in the Québec region.

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