Thomas Ponniah

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Thomas Ponniah, Ph.D, was a Lecturer on Social Studies, Assistant Director of Studies, and Faculty Associate of the Project on Justice, Welfare and Economics at Harvard University from 2003-2011. He taught courses on modern social and political thought, the philosophy and methods of the social sciences, globalization and global justice. He is currently an affiliate of Harvard's David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. His rabble column offers commentary on contemporary social, political and cultural ideas, issues and events.

After the U.S. Social Forum 2010: The potential for a multi-scalar strategy

Is the U.S. Social Forum primarily an arena for movements to propose a diversity of alternatives or is it a political agent of the left that pulls movements together into a counter-hegemonic program? Photo: Sasha Y. Kimel/Flickr
Is the U.S. Social Forum primarily an arena for movements to propose a diversity of alternatives or is it a political agent of the left that pulls movements together into a counter-hegemonic program?

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After the U.S. Social Forum 2010: The potential for a multi-scalar strategy

Is the U.S. Social Forum primarily an arena for movements to propose a diversity of alternatives or is it a political agent of the left that pulls movements together into a counter-hegemonic program? Photo: Sasha Y. Kimel/Flickr

In 1933, Mexican artist Diego Rivera completed his Detroit Industry fresco cycle. The abundant, controversial work, considered one the 20th century's outstanding achievements of monumental art, covers the four walls of the Garden Court in the Detroit Institute of Art.

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The World Social Forum: Building alternative forms of globalization

Photo: Amine Ghrabi/flickr

The greatest progressive innovation of our century -- to this point -- has been the World Social Forum (WSF). In the book Another World is Possible: popular alternatives to globalization at the World Social Forum, William Fisher and I first contended that the World Social Forum represented the beginning of building a new left and a new global civilization, grounded by a desire for participatory, radical democracy.

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Join Olivia Chow, Judy Rebick and Shirley Douglas at the Tommy Douglas Institute conference

The Tommy Douglas Institute's May 22 conference will ask: What is the role of post-secondary education in promoting democracy and citizenship in our era?

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On May 22: Judy Rebick, Shirley Douglas, Olivia Chow

On May 22, three great Canadian progressives, rabble.ca co-founder Judy Rebick, the actress and activist Shirley Douglas, and mayoral candidate Olivia Chow will be speaking at the Tommy Douglas Institute's conference "Critical Pedagogy and the Citizen-Student" at George Brown College in downtown Toronto.

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The Tommy Douglas Institute: Igniting a commitment to social justice

Photo: Lieut. G. Barry Gilroy/Library and Archives Canada/Wikimedia Commons

"My dream is for people around the world to look up and to see Canada like a little jewel sitting at the top of the continent."

- Tommy Douglas, 1951

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Pedagogy and Global Great Thinkers

Photo: Abhi Sharma/flickr

For my undergraduate degree I had the privilege of studying in a "Great Books" program at Concordia University's Liberal Arts College in Montreal. This bachelor of arts degree in "Western Society and Culture" is one of a hundred Great Books curricula in North America, Europe and Asia. The Concordia program was modelled on the Great Books movement which began at Columbia University in New York in 1921 and which now constitutes that university's Core Curriculum.

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Orpheus, opium and Robert Lepage

Photo: Stefano Corso/flickr

The Greek myth of Orpheus hints at the paradoxical relationship between creativity and anguish. Orpheus was the one mortal whose musical ability was as great as that of the gods. The renowned lyre player fell in love with the maiden Eurydice and the two were married. Shortly after the wedding, Eurydice was stung by a serpent and died; Orpheus, unwilling to accept her death, decided to descend into the underworld to rescue her. The gods were touched by the musician's plea and released her from Hades on the condition that he did not look at her face until the two had returned to the world of the living.

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The most interesting mayor in North America

Photo: Bill de Blasio/flickr. Photographer: William Alatriste

The most interesting mayor in North America is not Toronto's superego-averse Rob Ford, the conservative populist who has received much publicity from comedians across the world, but is instead the recently elected progressive populist Bill de Blasio -- the new mayor of New York City. De Blasio's campaign "One New York, Rising Together," was a refreshingly progressive one that did not emphasize crime, as did the slogans of New York's previous Republican mayors. De Blasio campaigned to support workers, teachers' unions, undocumented immigrants, welfare rights and the need for affordable housing, while criticizing the New York Police Department's unconstitutional use of stop-and-frisk tactics.

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Robert Redford: When all is lost

Photo: Sam Javanrouh/flickr

There is certainly no other actor who can command our attention -- our empathy, our loyalty, our love -- with such efficiency.

- A.O. Scott

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