The George Ignatieff Chair Of Peace Studies

For the past 16 years, Ontario peace activists and researchers have shared the goal of creating an endowed chair of peace studies at the University of Toronto. The objective seemed elusive, although many other steps were taken in the same direction. In 1985 an interdisciplinary degree program in peace studies was created at University College, which also sponsors other peace-related projects, such as a series of lectures each year, and provides a headquarters for Science for Peace, an organization mainly comprising physical and social scientists on the university faculty.

Some Science for Peace members were especially active in the '80s in promoting undergraduate study of peace, and participated keenly in the work of fundraising for a permanent chair. Professor Terrell Gardner coordinated the program initially and two eminent presidents of Science for Peace promoted the project. Professor Anatol Rapoport, a scholar of world renown for his work in game theory, returned to Toronto after his retirement, became the president of Science for Peace and occupied the chair of peace studies without salary for five years. At the age of 85, he has continued teaching until now. George Ignatieff, for whom the new chair has been named, was a former diplomat who, after serving as chancellor of the university, succeeded Rapoport as president of Science for Peace.

Thomas Homer-Dixon returned to Toronto in 1990 fresh from completing a doctorate in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As an undergraduate he had taken the initiative in founding Student Pugwash, an organization sponsored by Canadian Pugwash, and upon his return to his alma mater, he began teaching and coordinating the peace studies program at University College. Homer-Dixon has also directed a large research project studying the effects of scarce natural resources on conflicts in Third World countries. The project's findings, briefly reported in this issue of Peace Magazine, have caused great controversy and have attracted much attention internationally. Today about 25 students each year graduate from the four-year peace studies program at University College, in addition to about 10 taking a three-year degree in a different peace program at Erindale College.

Early in the fundraising years for the Ignatieff chair, a Toronto couple, Vern and Frieda Heinrichs, offered a generous donation toward endowing the chair, on condition that the university match their contribution. Although the university did not immediately rise to that challenge, it has finally done so. On May 13, 1996 at a reception at University College, the first holder of the George Ignatieff Chair of Peace Studies was introduced to a gratified audience. He is Professor Franklyn Griffiths, a long-time member of the political science department.

Professor Griffiths has come to his current orientation from a curious starting point: He began his career as a sovietologist and strategic analyst. In recent years, students in his seminars have been surprised and pleased to hear the broader definition of "security" that informs his analysis. Indeed, as he uses the term, "security" means much the same as the more familiar term of peace researchers, "positive peace."

Civil Disobedience Welcomes Spring


The coming of spring in this first year under Ontario's Harris government was heralded by two actions opposing the neoconservative ideology.

On May 1, May Day on Bay turned the intersection of Bay and King into a greed-free zone. Day care centres, housing co-ops, cultural centres, and credit unions were erected, stopping traffic for 40 minutes. Police charged 16 people with mischief, and all were released on a promise to appear in court a few hours later.

On May 15, at the Queen's Park Plant-In, protesters tried to plant a garden against poverty on the lawn under Premier Mike Harris' window. Six people were arrested and charged with mischief, while others were allowed to remain for an hour before they were dispersed and Queen's Park security destroyed the garden.

Unlike the May Day on Bay protest, those arrested were held for a lengthy period. Four were held overnight and released after a show-cause hearing. Police required that one of them also have a homeowner post $500 bail. A police officer admitted that this unusual process for a minor offence was politically motivated.

Both actions were projects of Toronto Action for Social Change (TASC), a non-violent resistance group. TASC has worked under the umbrella of The Ontario Coalition for Non-Violent Action. For more information call 416/651-5800.

Peace Magazine Jul-Aug 1996

Peace Magazine Jul-Aug 1996, page 31. Some rights reserved.

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