SFU urged to help public evaluate social changes

Jan 23, 2003, vol. 26, no. 2
By Carol Thorbes



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Jerry Zaslove wants Simon Fraser University to lead academics in helping communities cope with a changing world order.

The founding director of the institute for the humanities at SFU has partnered with community education programs in continuing studies and outside organizations to develop a unique lecture series called The Future of Poverty, A Social Justice Series.

“Academics rarely partner with frontline social activists to help the public evaluate social and economic changes. This lecture series achieves that,” says Zaslove.

The professor emeritus of humanities continues to nurture the humanities institute's development as a model of academic public service.

Zaslove says the lecture series is structured to give people the background to evaluate the impact of unprecedented social change across Canada and their options for making adjustments.

“For the first time in many years people en masse are experiencing the effects of job cuts, retrenchment, business reorganization, healthcare cuts and reduced access to higher education,” says Zaslove.

“We're moving from being a society with a market-based economy to being a society driven by the market.”

The lecturers are well-known social practitioners witnessing the impact of change on the poor and a social theorist schooled in how various areas are dealing with the impact.

“We need this kind of public education because the media often doesn't cover societal transitions unless they are perceived to be creating crisis situations,” notes Zaslove.

SFU scholars, such as Zaslove, and social practitioners will facilitate pre- and post-lecture public discussions about the lectures' topics based on supplied reading material.

Ed Broadbent, a former J.S. Woodsworth chair at the institute for the humanities and a former national NDP leader, delivered an opening lecture, Canadian Citizenship and the New Barbarism.

The rest of the lecture series falls on seven consecutive Mondays beginning Jan. 27 at 7 p.m., in the Fletcher Challenge theatre, at Harbour Centre.

The speakers are: Jean Swanson, a co-founder of End Legislated Poverty, a B.C. coalition against poverty; Ernie Lightman, a professor of social policy at the University of Toronto and Judy Rebick, former president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (Canada's largest women's group).

Community education programs in continuing studies is hosting the public lecture series.

The humanities institute, the sociology and anthropology department and the Canadian centre for policy alternatives at SFU are sponsoring the series.

While the lectures are free, the pre- and post-lecture discussions cost $75. Call 604.291.5100 to register for the free lectures; call 604.291.5084 to participate in the full series. For more information check www.sfu.ca/cstudies/community/.

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