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Canadian essayist addresses independent scholars

June 20, 2008

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More than 350 people turned out to hear Canadian author and essayist John Ralston Saul’s keynote address to the Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars’ (CAIS) symposium held at SFU’s Vancouver campus in May.

Saul, the husband and vice-regal consort to former Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson, is a distinguished patron of the academy, which is an SFU-based national network of independent scholars.

He spoke passionately about issues including:
  • An education system that focuses on the elite post-secondary sector instead of the more important and larger Kindergarten to Grade 12 sector
  • Scholarship and intellectual resources that are based solely on English and French studies, leaving out vast banks of ideas from other countries and civilizations
  • Our incapacity to build the importance of First Nations into our curriculum and culture
  • Our lack of will to end poverty and homelessness, a profound Canadian failure that is "an embarrassment beyond belief and a human tragedy."

He said it is the role of both community and university scholars to find solutions to these problems. “It’s thinking and acting. The job of the scholar and the intellectual is to watch out for our society, to think, to be heard to think, to be seen to think and therefore to act in public.”

Yosef Wosk, director of interdisciplinary programs with SFU Continuing Studies and founder of CAIS, says, “Saul is a champion of giving oneself permission to think out loud and to write even louder. He is not content with thought alone, but transforms it into emotion and persuasive action.”

For more information on CAIS contact: 778.782.5215 or e-mail: interdisciplinary-cs@sfu.ca.
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