Distinguished delegates arriving to honour Adelman


Eminent philosophers, political scientists, jurists and scholars working with NGOs will gather on York’s Keele campus Sept. 18-19 to pay tribute to philosopher, activist, public intellectual and York Professor Howard Adelman (right).

They will attend a conference entitled “The Academic as Public Intellectual: Responsibility and the Public Sphere”, held to honour Adelman as he retires from teaching.

An internationally respected scholar on the subject of refugee and immigration policy and ethics, Adelman has been teaching in the Philosophy Department at York University since 1966 and is the founding director of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies. The conference aims to elicit scholarly contributions in the areas of Adelman’s commitments and research as a public intellectual.

Reflecting Adelman’s interests and, more importantly, his work over that time, the two-day conference will address itself to the interplay of philosophy and public affairs. It will engage leading Canadian and international scholars and promising graduate students in reflecting and commenting on the relationship between ethics and the issues of migration, refugees, genocide and international humanitarian intervention.

“I am looking forward to the conference, not because it is in my honour but because the topic interests me greatly and I will get to listen to some excellent thinkers,” said Adelman. “Though I loved being at York, I am delighted now to be able to spend all my time on research and writing.”

Adelman has recently commented on the federal government’s terrorism probe of a group of Pakistanis arrested in Canada. He pointed out that this was the first real test of the government’s new immigration provision that permits the state to act on “reasonable suspicion” of a security breach rather than on fact. “Most laws are written about what you do, not about what you might do,” he noted.

Adelman has been active as a public intellectual throughout his career, supporting journalists with scholarly background and advising government on key policy issues in his field. Regarding the theme of the conference, he said it is important that scholars publicly critique poor quality journalistic work that is based more on opinion than on fact. He will present a critique of three recent journalistic works on public policy, in a paper entitled “Opinion and Truth.”

The conference will assemble distinguished international scholars in the fields of immigration and refugee studies, ethics, law, and human rights, including Kathleen Newland (left), codirector and cofounder of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, DC, one of the foremost experts on immigration policy in the United States, and Astri Suhrke (right), senior research fellow of the Christian Michelson Institute, Bergen, Norway, co-author with Adelman of the first study on the role of the international community in the Ruandan genocide.

Among the York presenters are David Shugarman, director of York’s Centre for Practical Ethics, John O’Neill, distinguished research professor of sociology, and Peter Penz, director of York’s Center for Refugee Studies.

For more information about the conference, visit http://www.yorku.ca/ycpe/events.html.

Left: One of the books edited by Adelman

Adelman is currently a visiting fellow at Princeton University’s Centre for International and Regional Studies. He is the author of a prodigious number of research papers, monographs, professional reports, conference papers and articles in books and collections, refereed journals and the Canadian periodical Refuge, and he has edited numerous books and special issues of journals.

At York he has also been acting dean of Atkinson College, 1970-1971; Chair of senate, 1981-1982; director of the Refugee Documentation Project, 1982-1986; and director of the Graduate Program in Philosophy, 1980-1983 and 1995-1996.