rabble publisher and political activist Judy Rebick has been appointed to the Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy at Torontos Ryerson University.
The first position of its kind in Canada, the chair is named after an influential policy analyst from the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union. The position blends teaching, research and outreach responsibilities.
The chair will serve as the centre of a social justice hub that engages academics, students, trade unions, social activists and community members in exploring the parameters of the social justice agenda and developing a transformative vision of a truly democratic society, reads a Ryerson University press release.
Rebick will be expected to liaise with social and political activist groups as well as academics, grad students and university administrators.
The urgent task right now is to bring together various forces in the progressive community, states the rabble publisher. Theres a lot of knowledge out there, but its very fragmented.
Rebick is a former head of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women (NAC), Canadas leading feminist organization. She was co-host of Face Off, a political talk show on CBC Television, and helped launch rabble.ca. A columnist for several publications, she also has written several articles and books, including Imagine Democracy.
Rebick takes up her academic duties at Ryerson on August 1. The position is part-time, allowing her to maintain her responsibilities at rabble.
As part of her new job, Rebick hopes to initiate research relating to [grassroots] democracy. She also wants to document experiences of individuals and organizations attempting to establish alternatives to the socio-economic status quo.
Rebick says the recent World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil presented an inspiring model that she hopes to emulate, albeit on a smaller scale, at Ryerson.
What I saw at the Forum was a respect for diversity, she states.
The Gindin Chair was established after the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) gave Ryerson a $1-million endowment. According to Rebick, this marks the first time a Canadian union has provided funds to set up a university posting.
CAW president Buzz Hargrove says hes absolutely elated by Rebicks appointment.
He says the CAW established the Ryerson chair as a tribute to Sam Gindin and as a way to inject left-wing ideas into an increasingly conservative political environment.
Theres all these right-wing foundations and institutions and right-wing professors getting attention, complains Hargrove.
The CAW president hopes that left-wing social, political, economic and labour issues will receive more notice once Rebick steps into her new position.
Sam Gindin was a researcher who worked with the CAW from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s. Rebick describes him as an accomplished intellectual who spent his life in the labour movement.
Endowing the chair is a way of recognizing Sams contributions to labour, she says.
While retired, Gindin remains active in labour and political circles. Among other duties, he currently teaches a political science seminar at York University in Toronto. While delighted that the CAW decided to endow an academic chair, Gindin admits to being kind of embarrassed that the union named the position after him.
Still, Gindin hopes Rebick will use her position to build links between academics and union members.
Rebicks appointment will be officially announced at a ceremony scheduled for May 21 at Ryerson University.
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