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Professor George Fallis: How universities can combat the democratic deficit

Professor George Fallis: How universities can combat the democratic deficit

Giambattista Vico Lecture to be held February 15, 2011

Universities can play a critical role in confronting the democratic deficit pervading politics at every level, York’s George Fallis will argue in this year’s Giambattista Vico Lecture Feb. 15.

What is to be done, Fallis will ask, about declining voter turnout, strident and polarizing debate, public decision-making dominated by business elites and experts – all signs of a democratic deficit at local, national and international levels. He will argue that the problem must be confronted not just by political parties and parliaments but by universities. Universities are not just institutions of teaching and books, not just institutions of the economy, but institutions of democracy.

Left: George Fallis

Fallis delivers his lecture, “Democratic Deficit: Universities and the Future of Democracy”, in Founders Assembly Hall, 152 Founders College, at 7:30pm.

In his essay “Professors as Public Intellectuals” published two years ago in Academic Matters, Fallis made a similar argument that a university’s responsibility to contribute to democratic life is just as critical as its role in economic development.

Fallis is professor of economics and social science who has published widely on housing, urban policy and constitutional reform. His current research focuses on universities: their roles and responsibilities in the 21st century; the value of undergraduate liberal education; and the role of university-based research in national innovation. His most recent book is Multiversities, Ideas, and Democracy.

At York, the Princeton-educated Fallis has served as chair of economics, dean of the former Faculty of Arts and chair of the Senate Academic Policy & Planning Committee. He has been academic colleague on the Council of Ontario Universities and an auditor of degree programs at Ontario universities.

The annual Giambattista Vico Lecture was named after an 18th-century Italian philosopher of history, culture and myth whose ideas had a profound influence on the humanities and social sciences. York’s former Faculty of Arts launched the Vico lecture in 2000 in memory of Fred Zorzi, late partner of the Toronto law firm DelZotto, Zorzi LLP, which helped endow the annual event.

American social researcher Nancy Fraser gave the 2009 Vico lecture on “Marketization, Social Protection, Emancipation: Toward a Neo-Polanyian Conception of Capitalist Crisis".

This year’s lecture is sponsored by the York University Foundation, the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and Founders College.

To attend the lecture, register online.

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.