See Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie Oct. 1

See Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie Oct. 1
David's movie opens tomorrow in Toronto - See the film and the producers will donate $1 from your ticket to the David Suzuki Foundation.

David Suzuki, iconic Canadian scientist, educator, broadcaster and activist delivers a 'last lecture' — what he describes as "a distillation of my life and thoughts, my legacy, what I want to say before I die".

Also action pages on the blog - such as Mining Waste in Lakes and Rivers

UPDATE on LaFontaine-Baldwin lecture Oct 15

A commentator asked if this would be streamlined, so I wrote them and they answered :)

Dear Mary,

There are details of other ways to access the lecture posted online at lafontaine-baldwin. If any other opportunities to access the lecture become available, they will be posted there.

·The lecture will be streamed online. The web address for the webcast will be posted on the website in advance of the lecture.

·CBC Radio Ideas will be recording the lecture for broadcast at a later date. Please check the CBC website for broadcast dates.

·Copies of His Highness’ speech will be made available online after the event.

HAT Monthly Meeting: Afzal Mirza, from Ahmadiyya Muslims. OISE Oct 16

Cross-posted to HAT website
Date: Saturday, October 16 Time: 1:30 – 3pm
Location: OISE, 252 Bloor Street West, 3-311
Topic: Living the Faith in Contemporary Society
Speaker: Afzal Mirza

Mr. Afzal Mirza is a missionary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, whose premise is 'love for all, hatred for none.' He has many years of service in Canada and the USA. In the recent past, he was the Vice Principal of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Institute of Islamic Studies in Mississauga. Currently, he is the missionary responsible for Peel region. Mr. Mirza will speak on living the faith in contemporary society: how does an individual Muslim observe their faith in a secular society with Judeo-Christian roots? How does one do this especially when one’s experience as a peaceful, liberal-minded Muslim is at odds with what is portrayed in the media? And how does one interact with others in this society?

Free admission. There will be an opportunity for open discussion and questions.

TED is at the Glenn Gould today

TEDxToronto | September 30, 2010 at Glenn Gould Studio | Ideas Worth Spreading

TED is a the Glenn Gould today. Sold out (of course!) You can sign up for updates when the feeds are posted.

I'm particularly interested in PLANINTERNATIONAL (as that's one of the nonprofits I support). Here's the speaker:

Amanda Sussman provides training on political activism
to strengthen the ability of citizen’s groups to participate in shaping government policy. She has extensive experience working with a wide range of organizations including Human Rights Watch, the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Amnesty International, the Food Security Policy Group, the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She was senior policy advisor on human rights and refugee issues to the former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Recently, Amanda was a member of the Steering Committee for the Canadian G8/G20 Civil Society Campaign, which led a successful effort to garner 7.3 billion dollars from G8 countries to save the lives of women and children in the developing world. She is also a [senior advisor] to Plan International, Canada, one of the world’s largest international child-centered development organizations, without political or religious affiliations.


Of interest: Save Comparative Literature

Save Comparative Literature
You may have seen the petition outside the MultiFaithCentre at the Grad Student open house to save "Complit", Comparative Literature, the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies and other programs threatened with Closure, including the Centre For Ethics. Read more here, and contribute.


Go: Toronto's Word on the Street Festival, Sunday Sept 25, Queens Park

WORDS: Pay tribute to the printed (and digital) word this Sunday at The Word On The Street Festival, bringing together authors and publishers from across the country in one epic day of literary celebration. Headliners this year include Man Booker Prize winning Yann Martel reading from his new book Beatrice and Virgil and soon-to-be former mayor David Miller discussing his authorial debut Witness to a City, also the Diaspora Dialogues' Literary Scavenger Hunt, running throughout the day. Queen's Park (111 Wellesley Street West), 11 a.m.–6 p.m., FREE.


Lecture: Green Nanotechnology Oct 20

Green Nanotechnology: How Nanotechnology Will Affect the Environment In a Good Way
Oct 20, 4 - 6 pm
Woodsworth College, 119 St George, 121

ABSTRACT: Nano means small, and nanotechnology is the science of the small. Nanoparticles are very small particles - on the order of 1/10000th the width of a human hair. Because they are so small, they have many new properties that we can use to make useful products. These properties can include control over their interaction with light (absorbing it or letting it through), or increases in surface area per unit mass, which makes them more catalytically active, or changes in their interaction with their environment, which make them better for drug delivery or environmental remediation. In this talk, I will discuss some upcoming applications of nanotechnology that have the potential to dramatically impact the environment - in a good way. In particular, I will discuss nanotechnology applications in solar energy generation, energy efficiency, catalysis, and in agriculture.
BRIEF BIO: Darren Anderson, Ph.D. was the founding President of Vive Nano. During the early stages of the company’s growth, he was responsible for initial financing, drafting and filing of patent applications, and the creation of Vive Nano’s first product lines. Dr. Anderson currently oversees all technical direction at the company, including product development, strategic direction, and intellectual property.

Lecture: New Green Roof Technology Oct 6

Environment UToronto Seminar series:
Oct 6, 4-6  Woodsworth College, 121  
119 St George Street

New Green Roof Technology
ABSTRACT: Reducing the weight of green roofs to increase the adoption of green roof technology on a wider range of buildings and plants specifically for green roofs. This will be addressed by presenting new strategies using existing green roof materials in new combinations which contribute to a decrease in bulk density while maximizing stormwater retention. In particular, he has been investigating the physical properties of a new “media” which he recently engineered. It consists of an inert clay, inert organic and coarse organic and is carbon positive and could theoretically be used as a “credit”.
BRIEF BIO: Jeff Licht specializes in linking the ecophysiology of subalpine and high meadow plants of New England to use in sustainable design/build projects. He received his doctorate from Boston University in 1985 and his horticultural certification from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. In 2005, Licht established a green roof program at Tufts University, authoring an EPA P3 grant to support a now vibrant program in Somerville, MA and in 2006 taught the first “green roof” course at Harvard University.

Event: Seminar: Neuroscience, Free Will and Moral Responsibility - Oct 6

Neuroscience, Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Oct 06, 3 - 4:30 pm
Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar Series
Gardar Arnason, PhD, Researcher, Dept. of Social and Moral Philosophy
University of Helsinki

Health Sciences Building, 155 College Street, 754
Contact Information Beth Woods

Millenium Summit on the MDGS

Go look on our EthicalActionAlert blog for more information on the MDGs, the summit, and things you can actually do.


UTM: Abu al-Faza'il Gulpaygani: An Ante Litteram Critic of Orientalism Sept 29

[from time to time, we hope to highlight lectures and events in the GTA and UofT campus of general interest to a Humanist sensibility]

Prandium: Historical Studies UTM Lunchtime Seminar Series
Sep 29, 12 - 2 pm
The UTM Department of Historical Studies and the Historical Studies Society cordially invite you to the launch of ‘Prandium: A Historical Studies UTM Lunchtime Seminar Series’ on Wednesday, 29 September, 12:00-1:00 in Room 143, North Building, UTM. A light lunch will be provided at 1:00.

Our first presenter is Mina Yazdani, Ph.D. candidate at the department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, who will be speaking about Abu al-Faza'il Gulpaygani: An Ante Litteram Critic of Orientalism. Since the late 1970s, the term ‘orientalism’ has been synonymous with Edward Said and his influential monograph of the same name. This paper suggests that as revolutionary as a number of Said’s theses have been, he was not breaking entirely new ground. In fact, some seven decades earlier, we find a voice from within the Orient itself: a Persian scholar named Mirza Abu al-Faza'il Gulpaygani, expressing a similar— albeit far more embryonic— critique of orientalism. This paper will introduce Abu al-Faza'il’s general critique of orientalism as a nascent pre-figuration of some of the theses developed and advanced by Said decades later.


GTA: Royal Conservatory: La Fontaine-Baldwin Lectures: Aga Khan Oct 15

La Fontaine-Baldwin Lectures: His Highness the Aga Khan
Friday October 15, 2010
7:30 PM Koerner Hall RCM.
The tenth annual LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture will be delivered by His Highness the Aga Khan, and introduced by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul. The LaFontaine-Baldwin Lecture is one of the most prominent lecture series on issues concerning the public good in Canada. It is presented by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national organization founded and co-chaired by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul. Founded in 2000, the LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium engages Canadians in a national conversation on the public good. The symposium features a high profile guest speaker who addresses relevant issues of the day and continues the public debate around the future shape of Canada's civic culture. A free, public roundtable discussion is also held as part of the symposium.

GO: Cooperative Shoreline Clean-up, Sept 25, 26

Cooperative Shoreline Clean-up
The Great Canadian Shoreline Clean up with the Centre for Community Partnerships is a day long service-learning project designed to increase your environmental awareness, fulfill a civic duty and work side by side with your fellow students

Sept 25:
10:00am: Reception at Hart House
10:30am: Opening Speech Allie Kosela from Lake Ontario Waterkeepers
11:00am: Travel to Clean up Sites: Marilyn Bell Park, Toronto Island and Don River
3:30pm: Reflection Activity

Sept 25: Sign up for the BID student group (Beyond Intellectual Discovery)
Sept 26: Sign up for the Multifaith Centre group

Event: Calgary - Gender, Culture and Religion:Tackling some difficult questions

[from time to time we publish items of scholarly or general interest in other cities, esp when there are requests for comment or links]

Gender, Culture and Religion: Tackling some difficult questions
The Marsha Hanen Symposium on Ethical Leadership and Gender Equality
October 1 - 2, 2010   Metropolitan Conference Centre, 333 4th Ave S.W., Calgary

The Sheldon Chumir Foundation is concerned with how we organize ourselves so as to live ethically well together – peacefully, with dignity for all and in mutual respect. Equality issues are central to our mandate. This Symposium will provide an opportunity for thoughtful engagement with one set of equality issues – those presented by the tension between gender equality and Canada’s cultural and religious diversity.

Topics and Speakers:

Bedrock in principle, sometimes contested in practice: a framework for thinking about gender equality in Canada today
* Janet Keeping, President, Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership
* Tarek Fatah, Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress
* Morton Weinfeld, Professor, McGill University
* Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Association

Panel: When is state interference with religious or cultural practices justified to advance women's rights? When is it not justified?

* Tarek Fatah, Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress
* Jennifer Koshan, Associate Professor, University of Calgary
* Dan Shapiro, Research Associate, Sheldon Chumir Foundatio

Gender equality and the world we want to live in: Fairness and dignity for women in the developing world
* Lauryn Oates, Projects Director, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

Panel: "Honour Killings" in Canada
* Janet Keeping, President, Sheldon Chumir Foundation
* Alia Hogben, Executive Director, Canadian Council of Muslim Women
* Richelle Wiseman, Executive Director, Centre for Faith and the Media

Panel: How do we achieve dignity and respect for all in the face of diversity-inspired challenges?
* Salima Ebrahim, Co-Chair, Religions for Peace, North American Women of Faith Network
* Marilou McPhedran, Principal, University of Winnipeg Global College
* Aruna Papp, Consultant & Counsellor, Cultural Competency
* Morton Weinfeld, Professor, McGill University

Discussion Papers:
After the Symposium, and taking into account the feedback we receive on these discussion papers, we plan to release final versions to the public. Please send us your comments on these papers to

* Concept paper on gender equality (stay tuned)
* "Honour" Killings in Canada: What needs to be said? What needs to be done?, by Janet Keeping
* The Honour Killings Debate in Canada, by Richelle Wiseman

Background Resources:
* Culturally driven violence against women: A growing problem in Canada’s immigrant communities, by Aruna Papp
* Religion versus the Charter, by Janice Gross Stein
* Openness to diversity doesn't mean everything "different" is good, by Janet Keeping
* What does misogyny look like?, by Lauryn Oates
* Name honour killings to stop the violence, by Richelle Wiseman

MDGs: Tracking progress on MDG six - HIV/AIDS

MDGs: Tracking progress on MDG six
NAIROBI, 21 September 2010 (PlusNews) - Significant strides have been made in the global fight against HIV, but major gaps remain that could prevent many countries from achieving UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) six relating to HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Access to treatment - More than five million people currently have access to life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs, a 12-fold increase over the past six years. However, this still represents just one third of people who need HIV treatment. In 2008, 38 percent of the 730,000 children estimated to need antiretrovirals (ARVs) in low- and middle-income countries had access to them. UNAIDS is calling for the implementation of a new treatment approach called "Treatment 2.0", to drastically scale up testing and treatment; it estimates that successful implementation of "Treatment 2.0" could avert 10 million deaths by 2025, and reduce new infections by a third.

New infections - Twenty-two of the worst affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa have reduced HIV incidence by more than 25 percent in the last eight years, according to UNAIDS. Some of the best performers in reducing new infections are Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe; HIV incidence is on the rise in Uganda, once a leader in the fight against HIV. Eastern Europe and Central Asia remain the only regions where incidence is increasing.

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission - According to the UN World Health Organization's (WHO) 2009 report, Towards Universal Access, the 20 countries with the highest burden of HIV among pregnant women have scaled up HIV counseling and testing to at least 75 percent of their antenatal care facilities.

Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia are among the countries that provided HIV testing to 60-80 percent of pregnant women, while Botswana, Namibia and São Tomé and Principe exceeded the 80 percent mark.


Sept 21, United Nations International Day of Peace

Flanked by UN Messengers of Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors Midori Goto, Yuna Kim, Anggun, Catarina Furtado, Goedele Liekens and Elie Wiesel, Mr. Ban listened as a children’s choir played music.
In his remarks Mr. Ban acknowledged that young people are impatient, frustrated by poverty, injustice and environmental degradation.
'You are concerned that we, your elders, have not made greater headway against these threats,' he added, noting that world leaders will gather for a summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets aiming to slash extreme hunger and poverty, maternal and infant mortality, disease and lack of access to education and health services, all by 2015.
'There have been remarkable gains, but we need faster progress – much, much faster. Young people can play a central role.'
Mr. Ban then opened a student conference attended by more than 600 young people in a UN hall and hundreds of others linked by video conference sites at UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
At a later tea gathering for peace with UN Association of Japan president Genshitsu Sen, Mr. Ban recalled his recent visit to Hiroshima. 'I will never forget meeting the survivors – the hibakusha – or their painful and moving testimony. I was very impressed and moved this morning when young students sang a song of peace with the piano which survived the atomic attack 65 years ago.'


DOUBLESPEAK: Hypocrisy and this Globalization Sh#t

DOUBLESPEAK: Hypocrisy and this Globalization Sh#t
Disoriented by globalization? From workshops to forums, to parties and performances, disOrientation introduces students to political activism, on campus and beyond. All events are free, wheelchair accessible, and open to everyone! disOrientation is hosted by the Ontario Public Interest Research Group and the University of Toronto Students’ Union. For more info, contact: /

Rutgers: -Speakers advocate for humanist movement

Daily Targum - Speakers advocate for humanist movement

Rutgers: The Humanist Chaplaincy held their first meeting Monday night at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus, featuring speeches by two distinguished leaders of the American Humanist Association.

AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt and Director of Development Maggie Ardiente discussed future plans for the growing demographic of atheists, agnostics and humanists — who focus on human values and concerns — in the country in their presentation titled “2020 Humanism: Achieving a Vision that Matches Our Aspirations.”The two presenters said this demographic calls for unity, community and increased assertion among its members in order to create a powerful and legitimate movement.

“Humanists and other free thinkers can learn a great deal from the successes of other movements,” Speckhardt said. By referencing the gay rights movement of the 1970s, Speckhardt said he hopes one day there will be tolerance of their non-theistic perspective.

“We must all come out as humanists, saying ‘We do not need a higher power to govern our lives,’” he said. Speckhardt and Ardiente discussed other issues the AHA hopes to tackle in the coming decade, including the advancement of gay rights, scientific research and community involvement outside the influence of the church

Speckhardt and Ardiente said the AHA is already working with the gay and lesbian community, establishing a council for those humanists who belong to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. By doing so, they can organize the growing number of LGBT humanists within their cause and lend reciprocal support to the gay rights movement, whose support both say comes naturally in the AHA.

Working at the university level, the University Chaplaincy hopes to address similar issues this year, which the AHA is working toward both nationally and internationally. “[Humanists] look at this lifetime and at this world as a source of information and an idea of who we are,” University Humanist Chaplain Barry Klassel said.


Event: Science for Peace: Climate Reality

Science for Peace: Climate Reality
Public talk with James Hansen, Naomi Klein and Clayton Thomas-Muller, Wednesday, September 15, 5:30pm at McMillan Theatre, Toronto
Science for Peace and The Centre for Global Change Science at the University of Toronto welcome the world’s foremost climate scientist and author of Storms of My Grandchildren, Dr. James Hansen, for 2 days of engagements, meetings with students and political lobbying, Wednesday, Sept. 15th and Thursday Sept. 16 in Toronto.

Joining Dr. Hansen at his main public speaking event, Wednesday, Sept. 15th are: the author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism Naomi Klein; Indigenous Environmental Network’s Tar Sands Campaigner, Clayton Thomas-Muller; and moderator Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux (U of T Aboriginal Studies and Social Work).

Wednesday, September 15 at the McMillan Theatre (capacity: 800), Edward Johnson Bldg, 80 Queen’s Park
5:30pm – 6:30pm Science presentation by Dr. James Hansen
7:00pm to 8:45pm Climate Reality: A Conversation with Dr. James Hansen, Naomi Klein & Clayton Thomas-Muller, moderated by Cynthia Wesley- Esquimaux.

About Dr. Hansen:

Dr. James Hansen is one of the world’s foremost climate scientists. In his scientific work, Dr. Hansen has proven to be consistently accurate in his predictions. He has long been recognized as an authority on climate science and has been asked to give briefings to every U.S. administration since that of President George H.W. Bush. Overseas, he most recently spoke to the Club of Rome, at the United Nations University in Tokyo and to the French National Assembly.
Dr. Hansen will be able to discuss the most recent scientific findings about climate change, about what can be accurately predicted and about areas of uncertainty, and about his own recommendations of a complete phase-out of coal. You will find in him an accessible and humane man, deeply concerned about the welfare of future generations.


Statement re intent to burn Qur'an

Chaplains Gail McCabe and Mary Beaty have endorsed the following statement by the Ontario Humanist Society:

The Ontario Humanist Society notes the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has condemned a planned public burning of the Qur'an by a Florida church on the 9th anniversary of the 11 September 2001 attacks. IHEU is the world union of more than 100 Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, atheist and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries.

With regard to the announcement by churches in the United States that they intend to burn copies of the Qur'an, The Ontario Humanist Society also condemns the intention of anyone to burn, deface, or destroy books, artifacts, or any other works of art, religion, philosophy or expression.

 "Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings". -- Heinrich Heine: Almansor: A Tragedy (1823)
Wisdom comes from open minds, and open books. In a global world of many people and cultures, we should call for understanding, communication, respect and cooperation between peoples. We should learn from each other, listen to each other, and teach each other, from many sources and diverse inspirations.  Burning or destroying books is a regressive and provocative act of cultural violence, and an attack on freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience. Such actions promote violence instead of dialogue, intolerance instead of tolerance.We regret and condemn any such action in the spirit of humanity.

What is the relation between religious laws and state laws?

What is the relation between religious laws and state laws?
Interesting discussion in the Ottawa Citizen by representatives of various faith/secular groups. It is somewhat at odds with the information provided by Isfahan Merali, the former Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity officer at University of Toronto, in her references to Human Rights, Protection and Accomodation of Creed, which refers to the relationship between the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Charter of Rights.


Event: rally for One School System Sept 13

From Simon Parcher, President of HAC
September 13 · 11:30am - 2:30pm
Location Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto
100 Front Street W, Toronto

Member organizations of One School System will protest the discrepant funding of Ontario Catholic Schools via a Separate School Board in defiance of two UN disciplinary rulings against the Government on Ontario.

On September 13-14, the Ontario government will host an international two-day summit on education: The Building Blocks for Education: Whole System Reform. There will be speakers from six countries

There will be a demonstration on September 13th in Toronto, at the Royal York where the conference is being held, to tell about the world about the disastrous educational policy we have in the province of Ontario. We want to push for one school system for all.

It's been eleven years since the UN made a ruling that Ontario's education policy of having separate school systems is discriminatory.

Consider this: With only one school system we would free up $250.00 PER CHILD or about $7,500 PER CLASSROOM per year! The Ontario Provincial Government is not going to take action unless the electorate makes one school system an issue. In other words a grassroots has to galvanize itself to make a lot of noise.
Come join your fellow humanists and atheists along with other individuals and groups who oppose the public funding of religious schools in Ontario


News: New Humanist Student Center at Harvard opens

News from Greg Epstein @ Harvard:
We are delighted to announce that this fall, the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard will welcome students to our new Humanist Student and Community Center at 19 Arrow Street! This center is the first of its kind on any campus in the US. Our new 1000-square foot storefront office is in a perfect location near Harvard Square; hear me talk about it on NPR's Radio Boston

We'll be holding open houses on the first Tuesday evening of every month, so save those dates to check us out, ask basic questions about Humanism and/or our activities! Beyond that we're planning programs and events to interest a wide variety of participants. See our website for initial details:

Support for our lease of this space comes primarily through a generous gift from an individual with no particular connection to Harvard but who became aware of our organization by way of my book, Good without God. This individual decided that HCH is uniquely positioned to help pioneer a new model of Humanist community and educational work, and to develop Humanist leaders

BOOK: Stephen Hawking: God NOT Needed For Creation

Stephen Hawking: God NOT Needed For Creation
(cross-posted to

LONDON — Did creation need a creator? British physicist and mathematician Stephen Hawking says no, arguing in his new book that there need not be a God behind the creation of the universe. The concept is explored in "The Grand Design," excerpts of which were printed in The Times on Thursday. The book, written with fellow physicist Leonard Mlodinow, is scheduled to be published by Bantam Press on Sept. 9.

'The Grand Design,' which the publishers call Hawking's first major work in nearly a decade, challenges Isaac Newton's theory God must have been involved in creation because our solar system couldn't have come out of chaos simply through nature. But Hawking says it isn't that simple. To understand the universe, it's necessary to know both how and why it behaves the way it does, calling the pursuit "the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." (nod to Douglas Adams)

Hawking, who is renowned for his work on black holes, said the 1992 discovery of another planet orbiting a star other than the sun makes "the coincidences of our planetary conditions ... far less remarkable and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings." In his best-selling 1988 book "A Brief History of Time," Hawking appeared to accept the possibility of a creator, saying the discovery of a complete theory would "be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God."

But "The Grand Design" seems to step away from that, saying physics can explain things without the need for a "benevolent creator who made the Universe for our benefit. Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing," the excerpt says. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the Universe going."

Hawking retired last year as the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge University after 30 years in the position. The position was once held by Newton.