Glendon - English

Volume 7 - Issue 1 - Spring 2011

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“A VACUUM IN CANADA” ON THE BIG ISSUES A Q&A WITH THE NEW DIRECTOR OF GLENDON’S CENTRE FOR GLOBAL CHALLENGES, ALEX HIMELFARB In March 2010, Glendon’s School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) launched the Centre for Global Challenges (CGC) – a public policy forum designed to promote public dis - cus sion and collaboration between academics and practi - tioners on the key issues facing Canada. It is a key priority of Glendon’s Leadership for Global Challenges fundraising campaign which is now entering its second phase. GSPIA and CGC director Alexander Himelfarb, former clerk of the Privy Council – the senior civil servant in the Canadian government – recently discussed the Centre’s mission. Q: The launch of the Centre for Global Challenges earlier this year was a huge milestone not only for the GSPIA but also for Glendon and York University. What is your overall vision for the Centre? A: I think many today would agree that there is something of a vacuum in Canadian politics and policy, an absence of big debates on big issues that we’re going to have to confront in shaping our future together. We’re not seeing the big debates on what kind of country we want – on health care, the environ - ment, climate change, poverty, social justice. These ideas have almost disappeared from the public agenda. These issues are complex, global challenges that will require international, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational approaches. Policy discourse is richest when it transcends ideology and captures Canada’s cultural, social and regional diversity; it works to greatest effect when it brings together scholars and practitioners, experts and advocates, theory and practice. This kind of collaboration is weaker in Canada than in many other countries and that means that these communities live in isolated manners, with different languages and ideas about what is relevant. The idea was to bring these diverse views together around a few issues to define the moral choices more clearly, and to start, at least, to apply on these issues the best knowledge available. The Centre builds on Glendon’s bilingual, multidisciplinary, liberal arts tradition and is expanding its reach and scope through new partnerships domestically and internationally. Q: What are some of the issues that you hope to address? A VACUUM IN CANADA article by: Jelani Lowe GSPIA and CGC director Alexander Himelfarb A: We’ve set out four very broad themes: First, harnessing the global economy for human well-being. For example, in our inaugural session “After the Meltdown”, we looked at the global financial system, bringing together economists from the U.S., the U.K. and, of course Canada to explore lessons learned. We did this in partnership with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Glendon Magazine 2011 ] 11 [ La Revue de Glendon 2011

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