Brain food: McLaughlin’s popular lunch talks return today

An eclectic assortment of experts headlines this semester’s series of lunch talks hosted by York’s McLaughlin College. The popular series returns today and continues through January into February. All talks are conducted in a casual, open environment and, unless otherwise specified, take place in the McLaughlin Senior Common Room, 140 McLaughlin College, at noon.

Today’s talk features York alumnus Navdeep Bains (left) who will talk about his experience in federal politics. At just 30, Bains is a rising star in the federal Liberal caucus. He is highly regarded by senior Liberals as having the potential "to be the first Canadian prime minister in a turban". On April 26, 2007, the Toronto Star declared him to be a "charter child" – a term for the growing number of young Canadian politicians who matured under the Charter of Rights & Freedoms. Charter children consider it a reflex responsibility to speak out on important issues of human rights. When Bains was first elected MP for Mississauga-Brampton South in 2004, he was the youngest Liberal member in parliament. He is now the Liberal critic for international trade.

On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the McLaughlin Lunch Talks present Barbara Coloroso (left), an educational consultant for school districts, the medical and business community, the criminal justice system and other educational associations throughout the world. Coloroso has served as a classroom teacher, a laboratory school instructor and a university instructor. She is the author of four international bestsellers including: Kids are Worth It! Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline (2002); Parenting Through Crisis: Helping Kids in Times of Loss, Grief and Change (2001); The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Pre-School to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence (2004); Extraordinary Evil: A Brief History of Genocide and Why it Matters (2007); and Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right (2008), as well as the two critically acclaimed video programs, Winning at Parenting…Without Beating Your Kids (2007); Winning at Teaching…Without Beating Your Kids (2007). This talk offers an opportunity to discuss with Coloroso, in an informal setting, the kinds of issues of issues she has written about: parenting, teaching, discipline, non-violent conflict resolution and reconciliatory justice.

Nikahang (Nik) Kowsar (left) is an Iranian cartoonist and journalist currently living in Toronto. On Friday, Jan. 18, Kowsar presents his talk titled, "The Price of Freedom of Expression". In addition to his work as a cartoonist, Kowsar was also a reformist candidate for city council in Tehran in 2003. After studying geology at the University of Tehran, he became a cartoonist for an Iranian political satire magazine in 1991. Prior to coming to Toronto in 2004, he worked as a cartoonist for a number of leading Iranian papers. Most of these papers have been banned by the current Iranian regime. One of his cartoons, which depicted a leading ayatollah denouncing freedom of expression, earned Kowsar seven days in prison. Now working for a Canadian news agency, Kowar’s cartoons have been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s and The Guardian. The CBC produced a documentary based on his life and his involvement in the blogger movement. In 2001, Kowsar won the international "Courage for Editorial Cartooning" award, sponsored by the Cartoonists Rights Network. In the same year, he placed second in the National Press Club of Canada’s editorial cartoon contest. He has won awards from Iran’s "Press Festival" in 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2002. Some of his recent cartoons have been published in Rooz, a Dutch-funded Web site that provides an alternative to the official news media of Iran.

On Wednesday, Jan. 23, Tony Genco (right), a Fellow of McLaughlin College and president & CEO of the federal crown corporation responsible for Parc Downsview Park Inc., returns to discuss the continued development of the national park corporation, located just a few blocks south of York University. Much has been expressed about the potential of the transformation of the Downsview Park lands, formerly a military base. There is an effort underway to transform the park into a unique urban recreational facility for the enjoyment of future generations. 

D is for Daring (2007), by York Professor Gail Vanstone (right), is the first published history of Canada’s only feminist film-making studio. Vanstone will speak on Jan. 29 about Studio D. From its founding in 1974 to its closing in 1996, Studio D produced over 150 documentaries and won more than 100 international awards, including three Academy Awards. Two of its most popular films, Not a Love Story and If You Love This Planet, unleashed international debates at the time of their release and continue to attract critical attention today. Through personal interviews and drawing on the studio’s archival records, Vanstone will introduce her audience to the key players behind the studio, the reasons they chose to make the films they did, the challenges they faced working within a government institution and their many accomplishments. In her talk, Vanstone will introduce her work and discuss its implications for the implementation of public policy with respect to women’s issues. Vanstone is a professor in the School of Arts and Letters in the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies and is a Fellow of McLaughlin College. She has a long-standing interest in Canadian feminist cultural production, including literature, film, dance and critical art practices.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, Susan Dimock (left), a professor in York’s Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, and Chair of the Faculty of Arts Council, will present a talk on Canadian criminal law. Canada, as elsewhere, recognizes a number of defences to an allegation of criminal wrongdoing, including justifications, such as self-defence, as well as excuses, such as duress, provocation and mistake. In this talk, Dimock will discuss the defence of voluntary intoxication. Recognizing intoxication as a defence seems required by some very fundamental principles of criminal justice, on the one hand, yet there are both policy and principled reasons for holding people liable for behaviour even when undertaken in an intoxicated state. This tension and the resulting bizarre treatment of intoxication within the law will be discussed in this talk, which is co-sponsored by York’s Centre for Practical Ethics.

Suanne Kelman (right) worked for seven years as the arts producer on the CBC radio show "Sunday Morning". On Wednesday, Feb. 6, Kelman will discuss the thorny issue of media ethics. In addition to her role with "Sunday Morning", Kelman has worked on the CBC news show "The Journal" and has written for written for Toronto Life, Chatelaine, Shape and other magazines and newspapers. She once wrote a gossip column for The Globe and Mail, and quit in a fit of disgust. This experience kindled her interest in media ethics. Kelman’s talk is co-sponsored by the Centre for Practical Ethics.

For the lunchtime talks, a light lunch is served at noon and the talks usually begin at about 12:15pm, followed by a question-and-answer session. Each talk usually finishes shortly after 1pm. All are very informal.

For information on subsequent lunch talk schedules, visit the McLaughlin College Web site.