Passings: Howard Adelman

A field of flowers at sunset

Howard Adelman, who passed away July 23, was a York University professor, associate dean and Senate Chair, as well as the founder and former director of the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS).

Howard Adelman

Adelman was a philosopher and scholar of contemporary Canadian and global issues, an activist academic driving change in public policy, and a cultural and political commentator providing valuable and informed insights across cultures and nationsHis distinguished career spanned more than half a century and his work as an academic, author and advisor furthered multiculturalism, diversity and human rights for refugees and forced migrants in Canada and abroad.

At York, Adelman joined the Department of Philosophy in 1966, going on to be active as a professor emeritus and senior scholar at the University. In 1988, he founded the Centre for Refugee Studies, which has become the leading research centre in North America focused on forced migration studies. He served as CRS director for its first five years and since then remained a mentor to those at the centre. In 2008, in his honour, the Annual CRS Howard Adelman Lectures were inaugurated to provide an opportunity for scholars, practitioners and advocates to discuss issues impacting refugees and other forced migrants. He also served as a long-term friend and affiliate of the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York.

Beyond York, Adelman served as a national and international leader in refugee protection, human rights and diversity accommodation, often contributing commissioned research reports for governments and international institutions. He has acted as an advisor on refugee concerns to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Government of Canada. In 2018, he was awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of his wide-ranging scholarship, public policy work and political activism, which included contributing to the rewriting of the policy of private sponsorship of refugees.

Funeral services were held on July 27 at Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. The family has requested that tribute gifts in Adelman’s name be made to either the Holy Blossom Israel Engagement Committee or the Holy Blossom Refugee Relief Fund.

An obituary by David Dewitt, professor emeritus in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, has been published by the Centre for Refugee Studies, further detailing Adelman’s extensive accomplishments.