Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster Logo McMaster logo


About The Socrates Project

The Socrates Project is a point of convergence for artists, scholars, and diverse communities to engage in crucial conversations around the most pressing issues of our time.

The Socrates Project is grounded in the spirit of inquiry and creativity that lies at the heart of a university education. We aim to foster the University’s strengths and expertise in liberal arts education and research, especially in the study of the humanities and social sciences, to showcase, foster and promote the critical thinking, communication, creativity, civic engagement and collaboration skills needed to develop deeply engaged citizens and leaders.

Encompassing a broad range of events and activities – from performances to lectures, from international conferences to community town halls – The Socrates Project is intended to stimulate and foster critical discussion across all disciplines, promote dialogue, and deepen the connection between the university and the broader community.

Socrates sculpture
art of time cadmium red

Why Socrates?

The Socrates Project takes its name and inspiration from the Greek philosopher. Socrates’ wide-ranging and rigorous method of inquiry asserts the fundamental importance of critical reasoning, dialogue and analysis as the means to understand and advance our society and ourselves in service to the greater cause of humanity.

A Visionary Gift

The Project is made possible by a generous gift from proud McMaster alumnus and Chancellor Emeritus L.R. ‘Red’ Wilson. As a distinguished Canadian, retired public servant and business leader, Red served as chancellor from 2007 until 2013. Deeply invested in student leadership and the skills engendered by a liberal arts education, he initiated the Wilson Leadership Scholars Awards to foster and support exceptional undergraduate students who demonstrate the aptitude and commitment to become the thoughtful and engaged leaders of the future.

“We must constantly work to better understand who we are – our history, our communities, our cultures, ourselves – if we are to realize our goals and make sound decisions about our nation and our place in the world.” – L.R. Wilson

The two-year pilot project is being championed by President Deane.

“This is a wonderful new gift from someone who cares deeply about McMaster, its role in society and who has the confidence in our ability to influence the trajectories of our students, our communities and our country in building a Brighter World.” – Patrick Deane

Image of Chancellor Emeritus Wilson and President Deane


The Socrates Project programming is centred on three priority areas:

promo image of who we are in the dark

Spotlight on the Arts

Includes a broad spectrum of activities from performances to workshops, installations to screenings, that inspire and engage audiences, showcase the exceptional facilities of L.R. Wilson Hall, and deepen connections between the University and the broader arts community.

Socrates sculpture

Socratic Occasions

We host and partner on engaging, interdisciplinary conferences, debates and community gatherings with leading scholars and public intellectuals from across the university, the region and the globe.

Photo of a person writing

Local and Global Engagement

Providing opportunities for students to develop leadership skills and engage in public service, this aspect of The Socrates Project is intended to foster a broader understanding and appreciation of the world, and of the pressures placed on our planet by both natural processes and human practices.

Learn More