Humanist Heritage Project - BHA

Humanist Heritage
The British Humanist Association has launched a new site, charting the contributions made to the history of the United Kingdom and Ireland from humanist and secularist perspectives.
You can find out more about people – and the places associated with them – who have influenced humanist and secularist thinking or demonstrated humanist ideals in their lives.
George Eliot Julian Huxley Alan Turing plaque
Whether it’s a philosopher like John Stuart Mill, who gave us our modern understanding of liberalism, or a scientist like Julian Huxley who defended scientific method and spent a life time supporting greater cooperation among nations. You can discover the places that inspired novelist George Eliot, renowned both for her insight into ordinary lives and her deep political concerns, or the home of mathematician Alan Turing, who spent his genius working for Britain during World War II despite a lifetime of persecution.
Many great men and women, motivated by concern for others and a desire to change the world around them, have advanced our understanding of justice, or of the human condition, or of the universe itself.
Humanist Heritage documents and explains this important history.
Categories include people, places, institutions, organizations- including activists, artists, philosopher, politicians, scientists, writers..


People's Summit @ UofT - Human Rights workshops June 18/19

This is a full weekend conference, at UofT, Ryerson, and other venues. Here are some selected sessions on Human Rights at the downtown UofT campus:    SCHEDULE

See the whole schedule: HERE

Building the Movement for Women’s Rights (SUN 9:15 - 10:45AM) Engineering Building Room 103
Panelists: Lysa John, Campaigns Coordinator, Global Campaign Against Poverty; Linda Ross, President/CEO Provincial Advisory Council on Status of Women, Newfoundland; Kate McInturff, Executive Director, Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA); Jessica Yee, Executive Director, Native Youth Sexual Health Network

This panel will explore strategies to build the movement for women’s rights in Canada and link this to global struggles and opportunities to make change. How can we create diverse and inclusive spaces for change, strengthen the leadership role of young women and engage young men?

Creating Health for All - From the Ground Up (SUN 10AM - Noon) SCC room G

Despite Canada's perceived 'universal' health care system, thousands of people residing in Canada are actively excluded from health care access on the basis of 'immigration status'. This interactive participatory workshop facilitated by the local migrant justice group Health For All explores the causes of forced migration and discusses the systemic denial of healthcare access to migrants in Canada. The workshop will highlight how local community based campaigns, such as Access Without Fear, are fighting back to create health for all from the ground up.

Empowering Women Activists in Liberation Movements (SUN 3 - 4PM) VIC 202
Facilitator: Dr. Erin Skinner

This workshop examines how we can help foster the growth of women to become strong and empowered activists. Participants will look at how sexism and sexual violence within and outside of liberation movements dis-empowers women and divides our movements. We will then look at how we can create empowering spaces for women and why this will strengthen the fight for liberation for all.

Education is a right: Fighting Trade Liberalisation and Current Issues in Post Secondary Education (SAT 4:40 - 5:40PM) VIC 200
Sandy Hudson, Chairperson of Canadian Federation of Students –Ontario

The future of post-secondary education will be discussed and the global push for institutional reform that will change the goal of the academy from the pursuit of knowledge to providing human resources to advance the capitalist, global economic system. Such reforms are already being implemented under the moniker of the "Bologna Process" in Europe, and have served to increase tuition fees and erode the democratic structure and academic freedoms of European institutions to student and faculty outcry. Similar reforms are being touted for institutions all over the world, including Canada, and this workshop will highlight for participants the problems with such reforms and what activists across the world are doing to fight them.

Feminism: The Other F Word? (SUN 1 - 2:50PM) SCC Room G
Amethyst Women’s Centre

Facilitated by Dianne Rogers and Jane Wood

As employees of a feminist agency we know that feminism is a concept that has all but disappeared from public dialogue. We have struggled with the understanding that feminism means different things to different people, and therefore, it is often a difficult and murky area from which to offer service to women from diverse backgrounds. As a result, we have embarked on a process of community discussions about feminism, the other “f” word, in an attempt to tease out meanings, discomforts, misunderstandings and relevency in contemporary settings.

Human Rights and Gun Control (SUN 10AM - Noon) VIC 204
Coalition for Gun Control, Montreal and International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) London

Facilitated by Wendy Cukier

World-wide, women represent a very small proportion of gun owners, but are a disproportionate number of gun violence victims. This imbalance has been one of the arguments advanced for positioning the debate on gun control in the context of human rights and equity. While rights for legitimate national security, self-determination, and national sovereignty have been reaffirmed several times, there is no evidence of a general right to unrestricted civilian access to arms under any international human rights instrument. The United Nations has issued a working paper on small arms which reinforces the responsibility of states under international human rights law to address the problems associated with misuse of firearms by civilians generally, as well as specifically from the perspective of the rights of women. It is argued that under international law, states have an obligation to protect their citizens from firearm violence and to regulate firearms appropriately. Participants to the workshop will receive tools to join the global movement to fight armed violence as well as to strengthen national gun laws.

Maternal Mortality and the MDGs: What do human rights have to do with it? (SAT 10AM - Noon) SCC room G
Amnesty International

This workshop covers the relationship between a human rights framework and the effectiveness of the Millennium Development Goals, with a particular focus on maternal mortality (MDG 5). A case study of the human rights violations underlying maternal mortality will provide a concrete understanding of the human rights violations that increase the risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. A speaker from Amnesty International will also share A.I. campaigning experiences to end maternal mortality and the role that the international community must now play in this struggle.

Why NATO won't bring peace to Afghanistan (SAT 10AM - Noon) VIC 201
The Canadian Peace Alliance

This session will explore the history and politics of Afghanistan, and cut through the lies about Canada’s role in the war. It will address the crucial questions about the nature of the current Afghan government and the real motives for NATO’s involvement in Central Asia. We will hear from people of Afghan and Pakistani descent who are shut out of the debate about the region’s future. The session will provide an interactive look at the situation in Afghanistan and the implications military spending in Canada.

Women in Politics: A Must Have for Social, Environmental and Economic Justice (SUN 3 - 5PM) VIC 200
Facilitator: Tisha Kalmanovitch

At the end of this highly interactive, mulit-media delivered workshop, participants will have gained insight and understanding about: Why 50/50 gender parity in politics is critical to driving forward social, environmental and economic justice; and why we need to develop an ethical framework by which to guide the kind of policies and practices that will ensure such justice is realized


Reproductive Rights Rally - Ryerson to Bay street June 19

From SDTC -
"...Have you been fuming about how the Federal Conservatives are –supposedly – spearheading maternal health at the G8, but refusing to fund abortions as part of that initiative? Or were you disturbed when Senator Nancy Ruth advised that aid agencies should 'shut the f** up' about abortions till after the G8 for fear that Stephen Harper will harden his stance for political reasons? The time has come to vent your fury. Join The Rally for Reproductive Justice beginning at 1pm at Ryerson’s Pitman Hall (160 Mutual St) this Saturday, June 19th as it marches to the Ministry of Health and Education at 900 Bay Street. The rally will be advocating for full funding of family planning and safe abortions as part of Canada’s G8 Maternal / Child Health Initiative. Plus, it will be supporting the implementation of changes to Ontario’s sex education curriculum. Why? Because women in developing nations should have access to the same options that Canadian women have to control their bodies and safety".

Personality predicts political preferences, say U of T researcher

Personality predicts political preferences, say U of T researcher
There is a strong relationship between a voter's politics and his personality, according to new research from the University of Toronto. Researchers at U of T have shown that the psychological concern for compassion and equality is associated with a liberal mindset, while the concern for order and respect of social norms is associated with a conservative mindset.

'Conservatives tend to be higher in a personality trait called orderliness and lower in openness. This means that they're more concerned about a sense of order and tradition, expressing a deep psychological motive to preserve the current social structure,' said Jacob Hirsh, a post-doctoral psychology student at U of T and lead author of the study.

The study, which appears in this month's Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, may even lend some legitimacy to the term 'bleeding-heart liberal.'

'Our data shows that liberalism is more often associated with the underlying motives for compassion, empathy and equality,' said Hirsh.

Researchers asked more than 600 participants from Canada and the U.S. to classify their politics as either small-L liberal or small-C conservative instead of identifying with a particular political party. They then administered a personality test to determine the participants' personality traits and their relationship to political preferences.

Hirsh's work contributes to accumulating evidence suggesting political behaviour is motivated by underlying psychological needs. 'We are beginning to understand the deeper motivations that are involved in determining an individual's political leanings,' said Hirsh. "'hile everybody has the same basic motivational architecture, the relative strength of the underlying systems varies from one person to the next. If concerns for order and equality are relatively balanced, the individual is likely to be politically moderate; as either motive grows stronger than the other, political preferences move further to either end of the spectrum.'

'People's values are deeply embedded in their biology and genetic heritage,' said Professor Jordan Peterson, co-author of the study. 'This means you have to take a deeper view of political values and morality in terms of where these motives are coming from; political preferences do not emerge from a simple rational consideration of the issues.'


June 21-23, World Religions Summit: Interfaith Leaders in the G8: 2010, University of Winnipeg

Since 2005 faith leaders around the globe have met annually in parallel to G8 Leaders. The religious leaders gather to challenge the G8 nations to live up to their commitments made to the world’s most poor and vulnerable citizens. Specifically the world religious leaders are drafting a statement on poverty, peace, and the environment that will be presented to the G8 Leaders. For more information see:


Event: June 17 @ Luminato - (un)veiled: Muslim Women Talk About Hijab

Luminato - Toronto Festival of Arts + Creativity 2010 - (un)veiled: Muslim Women Talk About Hijab (36 min)
June 17 National Film Board - Toronto Mediatheque 150 John Street Toronto, ON
As part of the Luminato Festival, here is a free event - a documentary Introducing the audience to modern Muslim women living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, (un)veiled discusses the controversial topic of the hijab.
It shows the diverse and lively debates in Muslim societies about the meanings of modernity, emancipation and feminism.


Ontario institute finally gets Stephen Hawking -

Ontario institute finally gets Stephen Hawking -
 Stephen Hawking, formerly of Cambridge University, finally arrives this weekend for a visit. Almost two years ago, rumours began of Hawking’s move to Waterloo’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics from Cambridge where he was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics for 30 years, a position once held by Isaac Newton. Reports of a tug-of-war for Hawking between the venerable English institution and the heavily funded upstart research facility began in 2008. At the time, Cambridge denied any such move, but last year announced Hawking’s retirement in October.
That was after Perimeter director Neil Turok, a one-time colleague of Hawking’s at Cambridge, left England to take up his new role, in part because the university would not spend $40 million to expand its Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (which Turok headed) to create a Hawking Institute.
Scientists across Canada, theoretical physicists in particular, are giddy about having a man whose stated goal is nothing short of “a complete understanding of the universe” in their own backyard, at least until July, when Hawking’s visit will end. But many more are planned.
"As a student it helps bring attention to the field,” says Saba Zuberi, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, who specializes in particle physics within the field of theoretical physics. “Bringing this kind of physics celebrity draws other top researchers, it’s a great resource. The type of lectures and interactions that will now be available is something we’re definitely excited about . He is an exceptional communicator, whether to other scientists or to the wider public. We are delighted he has agreed to deliver a televised lecture, to be shown across Canada."
That address will be broadcast at 8 p.m. June 20 on TVO and promises viewers the same insights that made the physicist’s best-selling books A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell so popular with mainstream readers.