One hundred years ago, World War I began, plunging Europe and its allies into a bitter conflict that, by its end four years later, would see more than 16 million soldiers and civilians dead and 20 million wounded. Still one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, the “war to end all wars” had political, economic and cultural repercussions that have echoed throughout the century since its start.

To mark the centenary of the start of The Great War, Humber’s School of Liberal Arts & Sciences, in partnership with the International Festival of Authors (IFOA), hosted the first-ever academic conference to be held at the festival, “Representing World War I: Perspectives at the Centenary.”

With more than 150 delegates from Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Hungary and Australia gathering at the Harbourfront Centre, the conference complemented the IFOA’s literary focus on World War I with keynote speakers, an international panel discussion and small-group sessions on topics ranging from feminist and Aboriginal history to musicology.

“I honestly can’t recall a conference where I had such an impression of good organization, excellent papers and a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere,” said Kathleen Garay, a professor of history at McMaster University in Hamilton.

One of the highlights of the conference, which was held from October 31 to November 2, was an on-stage interview with British historian David Stevenson by CBC journalist Michael Enright, which was then broadcast on Enright’s weekly radio show, The Sunday Edition.

And although academics were the primary audience, several Humber students attended the event as well.

“The most enjoyable element of the conference was being exposed to all the original research presented,” said Elliot Buczek, a student in the Paralegal Education diploma program. “It is a pleasure to see Humber taking steps in the direction of encouraging scholarship, and it’s been one of the highlights of my time at Humber College.”

The partnership between Humber and the IFOA will continue next year, according to conference co-chair Dan Hambly, a professor in Humber’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“We’re glad that this new partnership between the IFOA and Humber’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences provides us access to one of the most important arts and cultural venues in the city. The theme of next year’s conference will be announced in the coming weeks.”