The Elephant in the Room will be the topic of discussion next week at the annual Humanities Research Institute (HRI) Spring Symposium on Tuesday, April 17.This year’s theme, “The Elephant in the Room: Making Space for Animals in Our Research and Teaching” explores the use and depictions of animals in history, literature, art and society. Faculty members from the Faculties of Humanities and Social Science will share their work on critical animal studies and human-animal studies.Symposium organizer Associate Professor Keri Cronin hopes this year’s topic will bring together researchers from across the University to start important interdisciplinary conversations and make the work already being done more visible.“Brock is, in my opinion, the place to be for animal studies,” says Cronin. “But because those of us researching and teaching these topics are so spread out and scattered across campus, it’s hard to get a sense of just how deep this research runs.”These HRI events are essential to maintaining the Faculty of Humanities’ sense of community, says Michael Carter, Associate Dean of Humanities and Director of the Humanities Research Institute.“The symposia provide wonderful opportunities for interaction and mutual support of our diverse research and creative agenda,” he says.The HRI was created to encourage the development of research programs and initiatives within the Faculty, as well as to generate public awareness of the diversity of humanities research by faculty and graduate students.This year, Visual Arts Associate Professor Donna Szoke will be awarded the 2017 Faculty of Humanities Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity at the symposium. Szoke’s artistic work includes media art, interactive animation, installation and printmaking.Szoke’s multidisciplinary work has included creating a free smartphone app, “Invisible Histories,” which maps nuclear waste at the Niagara Falls, N.Y. Storage Site, where more than 270,000 mice used in radioactive experiments have been buried.More recent work by Szoke has included “Bold as Love,” a site-specific response piece at Rodman Hall Art Centre, and “Knitting Cigarettes,” an ongoing performance art piece of public knitting.The 2017 HRI Spring Colloquium will be held at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts on Tuesday, April 17. The full schedule is available online.What: HRI Spring Symposium, “The Elephant in the Room: Making Space for Animals in Our Research and Teaching”Where: Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing ArtsWhen: Tuesday, April 17, 1 to 4:30 p.m.