Spawning problems

In a letter to the Toronto Star Oct. 1, Alice Barton, who leads tutorials in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, expressed frustration with Judy Steed’s recent article on fish farming. It suggested “that the environmentalists are somehow separate from the scientists and that the ‘fear-mongering’ is not based on real, rational concerns about the effects of fish farming on the marine ecosystem and the health of the people who eat the farmed fish.” But, argued Barton, the article “could not maintain the environmentalist-scientist dichotomy long” and “blurred the lines to cover some of the issues of concern to environmental scientists: fish escaping; contaminant transport; PCB contamination; net loss of protein from the oceans. It seems to me, these are all issues of a scientific nature. As a scientist and an environmentalist, I find it very frustrating when the media perpetuate the industry stereotype of environmentalists as irrational, anti-everything and drags on economic growth. Maybe fish farming is the way to reduce the pressure on wild fish stocks. But maybe the methods we’re using are, in fact, a threat to those wild fish stocks. As one of the sub-headlines states, ‘What solves one problem can spawn others.’”

Running a business like playing jazz

John Burton, a lawyer and theologian who teaches ethics at York University’s Schulich School of Business, acted as a moderator at a workshop on corporate teamwork described in The Globe and Mail Oct. 1. Workshop leader Brian Hayman compares running 21st century organizations to improvising with other musicians in a jazz band rather than conducting a symphony of individual players. He invites audiences to observe a jazz combo at work as an example of how to move confidently in uncharted directions by relying on an ethical compass and a set of accepted rules that lead to successful improvisation. Then Burton asks participants to break into groups to discuss their impressions. One of the insights they glean is that while it is all-important to understand your own instrument and to play it well, it is just as important to respect the capabilities of the other group members. In all too many organizations what happens is that you get a lot of individuals working individually who don’t consider the competence people from other departments can offer, Burton suggests.

On air

  • Nuri Jazairi, economics professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed hate propaganda in the print media against Arabs and Muslims, on the Calgary-based “Rutherford Show” (CHQR-AM) Sept. 30. The focus of the discussion was on Jazairi’s written submission on hate propaganda to the United Nations special rapporteur on racism during his fact-finding visit to Canada in September. Jazairi also discussed freedom of expression, terrorism and religion.
  • Daniel Drache, senior research fellow and associate director of York University’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, talked about what might change in the province after eight years of Conservative rule if Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals win the provincial election, on CBC TV’s “Canada Now” in Ottawa, Sept. 30.