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Diversity and multiculturalism expert visits campus as Snider lecturer

MULTICULTURALISM AND SECULARISM: Professor Tariq Modood of the University of Bristol, one of Europe's leading thinkers on ethnic identity and diversity, will be at U of T Scarborough for three days in February.

One of Europe’s leading thinkers on multiculturalism and ethnic identity will be coming to the University of Toronto Scarborough this winter as the 2008 visiting Snider lecturer.

Renowned academic and diversity expert, Prof. Tariq Modood, will be on campus for a three-day visit. He will deliver a lecture on Monday, Feb. 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Room 170, Management Building. This lecture is free and open to the public and the university community. His lecture, titled “Multiculturalism and Secularism” will address whether multicultural inclusivity extends to religious minorities, and what this means for secularism.

“We are extremely excited and quite fortunate to have someone of Prof. Modood’s stature coming to our campus,” said Prof. Phil Triadafilopoulos of social sciences, who is organizing the visiting lectureship and accompanying events. “Our campus is one of the most diverse in the province and perhaps the country, and so I think there is real interest and thirst among our students for a higher order of intellectually focused discussion on the questions of diversity, citizenship, and identity. We feel he is precisely the right person to lead this kind of discussion.”

Modood will also be participating in a town hall panel discussion on “The Future of Multiculturalism.” The panel will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. in Room 227 of the Academic Resource Centre, and it is free and open to the public and the university community. Other confirmed panelists are: Uzma Shakir, executive director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario and an Atkinson Fellow, and Lars Von Toerne, a journalist and columnist with the Berlin-based daily newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel. Social sciences professor Minelle Mahtani will moderate the discussion.

Modood is a professor of sociology, politics and public policy at the University of Bristol and director of its University Research Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship. His research focuses on the politics of racism, racial equality, multiculturalism and secularism, with special reference to: British Asian Muslims; ethnic identities, national identities and the ‘second generation’; ethnic disadvantage and progress in employment and education; comparisons within and between Western Europe and North America; and the politics of being Muslim in the West.

He is the Bristol Director of the Leverhulme Programme on Migration and Citizenship, and is currently involved in projects on: social capital and gender; national identity and religion; and higher education and globalization. Modood is a regular contributor to the media and policy debates in Britain. In 2001, he was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire for his work in social sciences and ethnic relations. He was subsequently elected a member of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2004. His is the author of many highly acclaimed books and articles, including the recently published Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea (Polity, 2007).

Modood is renowned for his writing and thinking on immigration and diversity. He was a leading voice in the academic discussions and debate that followed a Danish newspaper’s decision to publish a series of cartoon depictions of Allah. These publications enraged many Muslims around the globe and ignited an international debate on freedom of speech versus religious accommodation. While on campus, Modood will be leading a workshop for students on the Danish cartoon controversy on Tuesday, Feb. 26. This event is restricted to U of T Scarborough undergraduate students who have registered for the workshop. (Interested students may contact Audrey Glasbergen in the department of social sciences to register for the event and collect the assigned readings at glasbergen@utsc.utoronto.ca.)

“Prof. Modood is one of the leading voices in the U.K. in this debate, with which societies are continuing to grapple worldwide,” said Triadafilopoulos. “Issues related to diversity and the extent of accommodation of immigrants are coming up everywhere, from Quebec to Australia to our own campus.”

“One of the reasons we have invited Tariq Modood is that he is at the forefront of the public writing and discussion of these issues that we believe continue to be topical,” he added. “He has well articulated and strong views in this very topical area, and we feel that the students will be quite engaged by his visit.”

The Snider Fellowship was established in memory of Fletcher C. Snider, a distinguished lawyer and U of T graduate. It is awarded to scholars whose work is of general cultural and intellectual significance and is relevant to a broad audience.

This term the University of Toronto features a Snider visiting lecturer and a Snider visiting artist. The artist is renowned Canadian writer Michael Helm.  Watch for more news and upcoming details at www.utsc.utoronto.ca

by Mary Ann Gratton




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