Lecture series looks at elections, public policy and leadership

York’s Centre for Practical Ethics presents three public lectures in a series beginning today and continuing until March 29, to consider issues such as proportional representation, public policy development and ethical leaderhip in the academy.

Bob MacDermidToday’s talk, from noon to 1:30pm, is titled “The Ethics of Proportional Representation”. Presenters for this session are Robert MacDermid (right), professor of political science in York’s Faculty of Arts and one of Canada’s leading experts on elections and party financing, and Professor Dennis Pilon of Trent University, a York graduate and a member of the national council of Fair Vote Canada that is promoting the adoption of proportional representation.

Their lectures will pose questions such as: would a voting system that is at least partly based on the principle of proportional representation (PR), and not the current “first past the post” system, be a fairer system? Is PR abetter way of including disparate views and voices of minorities or might it skew public debate in the direction of single-issue groups and zealotry? Might PR make minority governments more prevalent and weaken our governmental system? Would elected representatives under a PR system lose touch with constituents? Because of the complexity of PR, would young people remain just as cynical as they seem to be when it comes to electing government officials? This lunch talk is co-sponsored by the centre, McLaughlin College and the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts.

Thursday, from noon to 1pm, the topic will be “Developing Public Policy Reasonably” with Sean Young, post-doctoral fellow at McLaughlin. With a background in public administration and political theory, Young also has extensive experience working in the public service. He combines this rich experience to present us with some unique insights into the public policies that impact our daily lives in so many ways. This lunch talk is co-sponsored by the centre and McLaughlin College.

The series concludes on Wednesday, March 29, with a talk from 12 to 1:30pm, titled “Ethical Leadership in the Academy: the Need for Fresh Ideas” with Deborah Poff, professor of political science at the University of Northern British Columbia. As former vice-president academic and provost of the UNBC and former dean of its Faculty of Arts and Science, Poff has worked extensively in the areas of ethical leadership and stewardship, and their application in the business and professional context. She is a council member of the Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences, where she is vice-chair of the standing committee of ethics and integrity. Poff is also Director of the National Council on Ethics on Human Research, and is a board member of the BC Medical Services Foundation, the Minerva Foundation, and the Science Council of BC. Poff is also a former public policy fellow with Calgary’s Sheldon M. Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. This lunch talk is co-sponsored by McLaughlin College, York’s Office of the Vice-President Academic, and the Sheldon M. Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership.

All lectures will be held in the McLaughlin Senior Common Room, 140 McLaughlin College, and are free and open to the public. For attendance at lunch, an RSVP should be sent to the centre at ycpe@yorku.ca or Vicky Carnevale at vcarneva@yorku.ca.