What if - Lunch Discussions at Hart House

What if
Throughout February and March, Hart House presents “What if…?”, a provocative series of prompts intended to generate conversation, ignite discussion and question our deepest values and sense of self, culture and the environment.
”What If… ?” is modeled in part after Northwestern University's student initiative Ask Big Questions, a website launched to explore campus culture at its core through “big questions.”
Every two weeks throughout February and March, Hart House invites students and the campus community to gather in the Map Room Studio and join live conversations on CIUT. This is your chance to explore “What if…?” in the context of conscious conversation, thoughtful and challenging discussion and mind-opening dialogue.
Free pizza lunch will follow.
FEB 1. 12-1PM: "Nature is our best hope? featuring Dennis Patrick O Hara
FEB 15. 12-1PM:
"All strangers could be our friends?" featuring Lucy Fromwitz
FEB 28. 12-1PM: "there was no fear" featuring Professor Mark Kingwell.
MAR 15. 12-1PM: "Technology didn't shape our lives? Guest to be confirmed.

U of Calgary: International Society for Science & Religion Library Project

University of Calgary course on the History of Magic, Science, and Religion This course embarks on an historical study of the development of and relationships among three worldviews by which Europeans have sought to understand the universe and human nature. Starting from late antiquity, the course will include the following topics: early Christianity and the natural world, the development of witchcraft, Christian responses to Greek science and philosophy, Hermetic magic in the Renaissance, and the Trial of Galileo.

Science and Religion in the Seventeenth Century. The aim of this course is to examine the varieties of ways in which science and religion interacted during the seventeenth century in Europe. Broad questions to be considered include: the relationship between science and scripture; doctrines of creation and providence and how they relate to the study of nature; the limits of mechanization; and divine activity in the natural world.

For further information about courses and other information please see . International Society for Science & Religion Library Project @ Calgary.
(this info sent by a member).


World Report 2011 | Human Rights Watch

World Report 2011 | Human Rights Watch
This 21st annual World Report summarizes human rights conditions in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. It reflects extensive investigative work undertaken in 2010 by Human Rights Watch staff, usually in close partnership with domestic human rights activists.

With increasing frequency, governments that might exert pressure for human rights improvement are accepting the rationalizations and subterfuges of repressive governments, favoring private 'dialogue and cooperation' over more hard-nosed approaches. In principle there is nothing wrong with dialogue, but it should not be a substitute for public pressure when the government in question lacks the political will to respect rights. Human Rights Watch calls on governmental supporters of human rights to ensure that the quest for cooperation does not become an excuse for inaction.

excerpt from `The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould'

Excerpt from `The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould', by Richard York and Brett Clark
Stephen Jay Gould was not only a leading paleontologist and evolutionary theorist, he was also a humanist with an enduring interest in the history and philosophy of science. The extraordinary range of Gould’s work was underpinned by a richly nuanced and deeply insightful worldview.
Richard York and Brett Clark engage Gould’s science and humanism to illustrate and develop the intellectual power of Gould’s worldview, particularly with regard to the philosophy of science. They demonstrate how the Gouldian perspective sheds light on many of the key debates occurring not only in the natural sciences, but in the social sciences as well. They engage the themes that unified Gould’s work and drove his inquires throughout his intellectual career, such as the nature of history, both natural and social, particularly the profound importance of contingency and the uneven tempo of change. They also assess Gould’s views on structuralism, highlighting the importance of the dialectical interaction of structural forces with everyday demands for function, and his views on the hierarchical ordering of causal forces, with some forces operating at large scales and/or over long spans of time, while others are operating on small scales and/or occur frequently or rapidly.
York and Clark also address Gould’s application of these principles to understanding humanity’s place in nature, including discussions of human evolution, sociobiology, and the role of art in human life. Taken together, this book illuminates Gould’s dynamic understanding of the world and his celebration of both science and humanism.
(you can read the first chapter online here)


GTA event: Astronomy & Space Exploration Society SYMPOSIUM Jan 28

Astronomy and Space Exploration Society SYMPOSIUM
Please check the new symposium website for more information.

8th Annual Expanding Canada’s Frontiers Symposium: Unraveling the Universe
Friday, January 28, 2011, 7:00 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM, Reception at 10:00 PM)
Location: Convocation Hall, 31 Kings College Circle
Featuring Prof. Alexei V. Filippenko (UCalifornia at Berkeley), Prof. Gil Holder (McGill), Prof. Michel Lefebvre (U of Victoria)
Admission:  Students: FREE (with ID and pre-registration) from ANY university, college or school
Public: $20 ($25 at the door) UofT Tickets


CCP: Alternative Reading Week Feb 5

There are still projects open in this years Atlernative Reading Week. Registration will stay open until placements are full or January 28th, 2011. If you are member of a student group, make sure you know which projects your group will be organizing before completing the registration form.

With The Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF) taking the lead, the CCP will be partnering with a wide range of community organizations and private sector partners located in the York region in the Weston-Mt. Denis area to learn, explore and contribute to building the capacity of this neighbourhood to tackle some of the complex challenges it faces. LEF brings 30 years of experience and connections to engage U of T students in a wide variety of service projects from February 22nd-24th that are timely, pressing, and will make a positive difference in this community.

About the Program

The theme this year will be "Growing Community" as we will be playing a key role in collaborating with the areas' residents, community organizations, and businesses to work towards a common goal of building a stronger community. We will also be planting greenery and small community indoor gardens in a large central gathering space or "Town Square" at LEF in their large warehouse. This town square was build in partnership with the CCP ARW program last year and is a place for staff, volunteers, program participants, community partners, and friends of LEF to meet, interact and build community.

Sidewalks: Civic Humanism and the Regulation of Public Flow

Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and Civic Humanism"

An interesting discussion about engineers, sidewalks, public spaces, and ..and bicycles, all part of the discussion of Civil Humanism and the right to the Commons - mb)

(Nioclas Blomley’s lecture on Jan 20 in Vancouver) was called Rights of Passage: Sidewalks and the Regulation of Public Flow, based on his recently published book. He focused on a term he has coined for how engineers view sidewalks, distinguishing 'pedestrianism' (his neologism) from 'civic humanism.'

As Blomley pointed out, most writers on urban themes view sidewalks as important sites of 'productive encounter' and collective activity that serve social and political ends as public space. Among the writers Blomley pointed to are Jane Jacobs, Jan Gehl, William Whyte and Spiro Kostof. (Jacobs’ famous comment on the 'intricate ballet… of the good city sidewalk' is widely quoted. This idea is what Blomley means by 'civic humanism,' and is clearly an important aspect of public space and urban scholarship.

Blomley contrasted this view with that of some engineers and municipalities, which he labelled 'pedestrianism.' In this view, the only function of sidewalks is to promote pedestrian flow and all other sidewalk uses (benches, bus stops, garbage cans, newspaper boxes, busking) are conditional on maintaining flow.

His analysis (and his idea for the book) began with Vancouver’s attempt to outlaw “obstructive solicitation” and an expert opinion he offer and an expert opinion he offered in a court case challenging the City’s ability to do so. The idea behind this case was that outlawing panhandling infringed on several Charter protected rights.

During his research for the book, Blomley discovered that civic engineers think of sidewalks in a totally different way from civic humanists. He quoted one Vancouver engineer as saying that his 'principal concern is safe passage and smooth and unobstructed pedestrian traffic flow,' and that streets and sidewalks are 'sites of competing interests of various moving and static elements.' The engineer believed that there was no need to justify the single-minded focus on flow above all the other uses of sidewalks. Blomley found this attitude prevalent among other engineers, and quoted a humourous discussion he had with a Houston engineer who didn’t understand that there might be alternate uses of sidewalks.

This attitude, said Blomley, stems from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when sidewalks were seen as areas of disorder that needed regulation to maintain morals, public order and circulation. He also mentioned municipal bylaws and engineering codes that propagate this attitude, and said that municipal bylaws (like Vancouver’s mentioned above) have been supported by the judiciary.

Towards the end of his lecture, Blomley said that he did not want to suggest that flow is bad or that pedestrianism is 'insidious or sinisterly motivated.' He indicated that engineers see it as a common sense category, and that it exists in a different mental universe than the rights talk that dominates in the civic humanist view. Pedestrianism has its own history and dynamics, he said, and this research provides an opportunity for both sides to better understand each other.


The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard: Stephen Fry 2011 LifeTime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism" Stephen Fry

The Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism is presented at Harvard University each year by the Harvard Secular Society on behalf of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and the American Humanist Association. Selected by a committee of 20-30 Harvard students each year, this award is given to a figure greatly admired by our students and community for both artistic and humanitarian reasons.

Now in its fifth year, the HSS Cultural Humanism committee has chosen Stephen Fry, based on what they feel is an outstanding contribution to Humanism in popular culture.

Previous winners of the Cultural Humanism Award are, in 2007, novelist Sir Salman Rushdie, in 2008, punk rock star Greg Graffin (of the band Bad Religion and the UCLA Faculty of Biology), in 2009, writer/ director/producer Joss Whedon ('Buffy,' 'Angel,' 'Firefly,' 'Dollhouse') and in 2010 Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, the hosts of The MythBusters.

Steven Fry on Humanism:

Environmental activitism: DirtyOilSands and Water as Human Rights

Note:  At the Ethical and Faith Leaders Dinner at UofT on January 20, we 'brainstormed' the topics of Gender, Hunger, Environment, Ethics in Government/Business. We'll post some actions here for future reference.

Environment:  Dirty Oil Sands has a page where you can contact Obama, Harper and TransCanada about "Ethical Oil" (sic).

Environment: Water on the Table, the film about Maude Barlow and water as a commodity, can be booked for a screening at


Symposium: The (Scientific) Mind in Performance and Culture, Jan 22

The (Scientific) Mind in Performance and Culture: Symposium
Jan 22, 1 - 4 pm
Centre for International Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health
in collaboration with the Graduate Student Alliance for Global Health, University of Toronto Graduate Centre for Study of Drama, and UC.

We invite you to attend a symposium which will feature presentations, workshops and open discussions led by distinguished panelists each of whom are uniquely exploring the integration of mind, science and culture through performance. Attendees from a broad range of disciplines are encouraged to attend and contribute to as we consider its implications for both 'scientist and artist.'


Advances in the study of cognition have profoundly changed our understanding of how the mind works, carving a sophisticated new pathway into studies of philosophy, technology, and aesthetics. We invite you to join us as we consider how these advances, explored through performance, can impact issues of health and global citizenship.

The study of consciousness is a rigorously interdisciplinary pursuit, embracing academic disciplines as diverse as cognitive linguistics, sensorimotor theories of perception, and artificial intelligence, just to name a few. And yet, consciousness is an ever-present phenomenon: we are continually challenged to "re-imagine" specialized, academic knowledge in order to carry it across institutional boundaries into the frontiers of global culture.


Bioethics: Selectively Erasing Memories?

Ethics of Erasing Memory, Podcast Sunshine of the Perfect Mind? - a bioethicist discusses Erasing Memories.

Neuroscientists have identified a chemical that can erase the connections between brain cells, essentially wiping out memories. Although it can't target specific experiences, like a traumatic event, its existence raises a lot of big ethical issues. In this interview, we asked Art Caplan to help us sort them out. He's the director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.


Sask Court - Marriage officials cannot refuse gay weddings

CBC News Marriage officials cannot refuse same sex weddings

Saskatchewan's highest court has ruled that marriage commissioners who are public servants cannot refuse to marry same-sex couples.

The decision by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejects two proposals from the provincial government that would allow some or all marriage commissioners to refuse to perform a service involving gay or lesbian partners if it offended their religious beliefs.

The government proposed that marriage commissioners who were employed before the law changed in 2004 could refuse to perform the services. It also proposed a second option where all marriage commissioners could refuse.

The court of appeal said the proposals were "contrary to fundamental principles of equality in a democratic society" and rejected both options.

"Both of the possible amendments offend the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Either of them, if enacted, would violate the equality rights of gay and lesbian individuals," the court said in the 74-page ruling.


Humanist Chaplains respond to CCI Press Replease re Bombing of the Church in Alexandria

The University of Toronto Humanist Chaplaincy is posting the following press release from Dr. Patel, UofT Campus Chaplain, and a member of the Canadian Council of Imams, which strongly condemns attacks on the Church in Alexandria, Egypt.

Humanist Chaplains Mary Beaty and Gail McCabe also condemn the violence in Alexandria, and we offer our condolences to the victims, and our hope for tolerance and peace. We also reaffirm our support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 18 and 19:

* Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

* Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
* * * * * * * *
On behalf of the Canadian Council of Imams, we would like to express our deepest shock and disgust at the Bombings of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt, on the eve of the festive season. Our sympathy goes to the families of the victims in Egypt as well as in Canada. By the present, we would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Canadian Coptic community members and assure them that the Canadian Muslims stand by their side in these difficult times.

"It is a big shame and an intolerable madness to attack people in the middle of their highest season of worship." said Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi, the chairman of the council, "The attackers do not represent any religion or faith but only a blind hate for anyone who is different from them. They want to create fear and instability in the country. Egyptian Coptic Christians have been living in Egypt thousands of years and they should not be treated with discrimination or in any way that shakes their peace and stability or restricts their religious freedom."
Imam Abdul Hai Patel, the Interfaith relations director in the council added, "It is the duty of the Egyptian Government to immediately curb the violence and bring the perpetrators of such malicious acts to justice. The council calls the Egyptian government to institute strong practical measures to protect its Christian Citizens and any other minorities in the Country."

By the same token, we also urge the Egyptian and global Islamic leadership in the World to promote tolerance and respect to our Christian and human brethren around the World and to educate and remind the masses about our relationship through our humanity and Abrahamic ties.

We, the members of religious leadership of Canadian Muslims, strongly condemn these terrorist and cowardly acts, resulting in loss of many innocent lives and injuring hundreds of others. We join the international community in grieving this tragedy and strongly protest against the mistreatment of minorities anywhere in the world including in the Muslim countries.

Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi, Chairman
Imam Dr. Abdul Hai Patel, Director Interfaith Relations, 416-282-4342



UofT Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar Series, Jan 12

Bob Parke, BA, BSW, MSW, RSW, MHSc, Clinical Ethicist, Humber River Regional Hospital
DATE: 12 January 2011, 3:10 – 4:30 pm
LOCATION: 155 College Street, 7th Floor

Abstract: Bioethicists have mainly been seen as contributors to healthcare who reside in the halls of hospitals and academia. If we believe in promoting good health care along the continuum of life including illnesses then anticipating and planning for difficult healthcare decisions should be made earlier in the continuum of care. The intent of this presentation is to explore the benefits of ethics outreach.

To discuss the merit of moving bioethics beyond hospitals
To promote preventative ethics as a means to improve hospital wait times
To engage the community in planning before a health care crisis
To support ethics education to the general public, residents and staff of community agencies
The University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics Seminar Series is an accredited continuing education activity under CFPC


International Festival of Poetry of Resistance | Hart House - Jan 11

International Festival of Poetry of Resistance | Hart House - University of Toronto
Presented by Hart House Literary and Library Committee
Hart House East Common Room
Tue, 2011-01-11 19:00 - 21:00

Join the Literary&Library Committee for an evening of resistance poetry! York University professor and poet Margarita Feliciano will be presenting the work of Argentine poet, Juan Gelman, and there will also be readings by poets Ama Luna, Monica Rosas and Los Santos Inocentes. Students will have the opportunity to take part in the Open Mic session and share their own poetry too.
This event is free, and all are welcome!

Conscious Activism Doc Series | Hart House - University of Toronto - Jan 26 - March 2

Conscious Activism Doc Series | Hart House - University of Toronto - Jan 26 - March 2 (schedule at link)

This fall, Hart House continues its tradition of free programming that engages the mind, awakens the spirit and acts as an incubator of thoughtful exchange. Starting October 20th, Hart House is pleased to present the second annual Conscious Activism Doc Series - a call to action for the curious and the concerned.

Born of a desire to address injustice, each of these documentaries is an exploration of the complex relationship between social justice, spirit and activism. Following on the success of last years series, Hart House has selected 4 award-winning documentaries that represent a diverse landscape spanning local, national, and global issues of social justice.

Don’t miss this opportunity to engage with local, national and global perspectives on human rights while connecting with others in your community who share your curiosity and concern.