Brian Harder Honors Day Conference History

Brian HarderThe Brian Harder Honors Day Conference is named after Brian Harder, a former student. Emerging from a small rural community and influenced by the Mennonite Brethren, Brian began his academic career at the University of Alberta in 1984. In his second year, he majored in Drama, which likely reflected his continuing interest in creativity and creative expression. After his second year, Brian decided to travel for a year. He frequently sought out situations he knew would challenge his personal philosophies and resourcefulness; so he undertook the journey alone. He visited Europe and the Middle East and was particularly enamored of Türkiye. In 1987 he entered the psychology undergraduate honors program and graduated with first-class standing in 1989. He married Joan Fitzpatrick in July of that year. He began his graduate studies at the University of Alberta in September 1989 and was studying dreams and the psychology of self with Professor Don Kuiken.

Brian died in July 1990 of a brain aneurysm at the age of 28. Many were shocked at Brian's untimely death. However, Brian knew he was at risk; he had already survived one aneurysm a number of years earlier. But Brian chose to live life in a way that was most meaningful to him. He was a thoughtful and contemplative individual, as much a philosopher as a psychologist. He often chose to ask the most difficult questions both of himself and of others. As a consequence, he encouraged others to think deeply about those things that matter most.

The Brian Harder Honors Day conference takes place in March or April, at which time students formally present plans and reports of the research they plan to do or have done. On that day, third-year students present their thesis proposal and fourth-year students present their research findings. Professors and deans across campus are invited to attend. Families and other personal supporters are welcome.

NOTE: Starting in 2018, the Joseph R. Royce conference is combined with the Brian Harder Honors Day conference (Royce-Harder Research Conference) in a 2-day event celebrating psychology research at the University of Alberta. The combined conference is an excellent opportunity to discover the different things happening in the department, to discuss your own views about psychological topics, and to have fun.
 Previous Brian Harder Conferences