Department of Social Science Professor Emerita Carla Lipsig-Mummé died peacefully on Friday, Jan. 20 with her daughter, Claire, by her side.
Lipsig-Mummé retired in June 2022 after 32 years at York University. During her tenure, she made many enduring contributions to the Department of Social Science, helping to shape the Work & Labour Studies program and the Global Labour Research Centre. She was also the founding director of York’s Centre for Research on Work & Society, where she brought together trade unionists and academics to conduct ground-breaking research on work and workers’ justice.
Born into a union family, she began her career as a union organizer for garment workers in New York and San Francisco, for farmers with Cesar Chavez’ United Farmworkers Organizing Committee, and then as a researcher for Québec’s Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ).
She received her PhD in sociology at the Université de Montreal and her master of sociology at Boston University. Her foremost concerns in research and activism included labour and organizing, climate change and work, young workers, and the social impact of global warming.
Her pioneering work on climate change grew during her appointment as Research Chair in Social and Political Inquiry at Monash University in Australia. Upon her return to York, she formed a team to address the pressing question, “how can workplaces help slow the threat of global warming?”
As the principal investigator of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) project “Adapting Canadian Work and Workplaces to Respond to Climate Change: Canada in International Perspective,” Lipsig-Mummé gained international recognition and praise from prestigious organizations like the International Labour Organization and the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
In addition to her impressive body of research, she led Work and Climate Change (WCC), an international community-university research partnership, which she helped grow from five partners and eight researchers from its inception to 52 partners over the past two decades. Over the course of her career, Lipsig-Mummé was principal investigator on 46 grants, 28 of which were funded by SSHRC, totalling approximately $10 million in funding.
In March 2018, she received the prestigious Sefton-Williams Award for her contributions to the field of labour relations and human rights.
Lipsig-Mummé will be remembered for her scholarship and passion for social justice, climate change and labour rights. She leaves behind an impressive legacy and a lasting impact on the Department of Social Science, the Faculty and the University.
Her daughter is planning a memorial service in the future. Additional details once they become available will be provided.