Saturday's York Circle offers fresh thinking for inquiring minds


TORONTO, April 28, 2011 − Leading thinkers from York University will tackle topics ranging from the ‘burbs to birds and from social justice to Olympic poetry during a full day of inspiring lectures on Saturday.

The free Lecture & Lunch series, organized by the York Circle, invites parents of York students, alumni, friends and neighbours of the University to enjoy a full day of presentations about exciting research.

In her lecture, “The Bird Detective: Investigating the Private Lives of Birds”, York Professor Bridget Stutchbury, Canada Research Chair in Ecology and Conservation Biology, will explain why some birds readily divorce their partners, why females sneak out to have sex with neighbouring males and why some mothers sometimes desert their babies. Based on her book The Bird Detective (2010), this lecture promises to raise the blinds on the secret lives of birds. 

On a more serious note, Stutchbury will examine whether bird behaviour can help species adapt to the drastic changes humans are making to the environment. Since the 1980s, Stutchbury has studied the ecology and conservation of migratory songbirds. In addition to The Bird Detective, she is author of the book Silence of the Songbirds (2007) – a finalist for a Governor General’s Literary Award.

"The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano, the African, and the Abolition of the British Slave Trade" is the intriguing title of the presentation by York history Professor Paul Lovejoy, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History and director of the Harriet Tubman Resource Centre on the African Diaspora. In his lecture, Lovejoy will explore the pivotal role of Gustavus Vassa, better known by his African name, Olaudah Equiano (c. 1742-1797), in advancing the abolition of the British slave trade. Many scholars consider William Wilberforce (c. 1759-1833) and Thomas Clarkson (c. 1760-1846) to be the pioneers of the British abolitionist movement, but Lovejoy posits that it was Equiano who was the seminal influence in advocating the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of those in slavery.

Lovejoy is a member of the executive committee of the UNESCO “Slave Route” Project, co-edits African Economic History and Studies in the History of the African Diaspora – Documents (SHADD), and is research professor and associate fellow of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom. 

Acclaimed Canadian poet and York Professor Priscila Uppal will discuss her experiences as Canadian Athletes Now Fund’s first poet-in-residence during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games. In her lecture, which is aptly titled, "My Gold Medal Experience: Olympic Poetry", Uppal will describe how she celebrated with the Canadian athletes and their families by writing poetry about winter sports, the games, and the personalities and performances that captured a nation’s imagination.

How she designed and then “trained” for her position, how the athletes responded to daily poetry readings, and other initiatives she’s undertaken to bridge the sometimes separate worlds of sport and art, will all be addressed. In addition, Uppal will read a short selection of the some of the 50 poems written at the games and recently collected in the book Winter Sport: Poems (2010).

"A World of Suburbs? Finding the Heart of the Urban Century in the Periphery" with York environmental studies Professor Roger Keil will offer York Circle members insights into urbanization. The 21st century has been heralded as an urban century. Indeed, urbanization is now the most tangible shared experience of humanity. Keil will explore what is behind the story of the "urban revolution". He will uncover an important and perhaps astonishing truth: Most urban dwellers now live in the periphery. From the squatter settlements of the Global South to the wealthy gated communities of North America, from the tower block peripheries of Europe or Canada to the newly sprawling cities of Asia, a common theme emerges: where cities grow, they grow at the margins.

Keil is the director of the City Institute at York University and professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. Among his publications are In-Between Infrastructure: Urban Connectivity in an Age of Vulnerability (2010) and The Global Cities Reader (2006). Keil’s current research is on global suburbanism and regional governance. He is the co-editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and a co-founder of the International Network for Urban Research and Action. 

This free series includes two events annually – in the spring and fall each year – and provides opportunities for learning and networking in a relaxed environment.

Lecture & Lunch events are open to members of the York Circle and their guests, each of whom are offered a complimentary lunch sourced from York Region as part of the day. The York Circle receives generous support from York's Alumni Office (program partner) and the Toronto Community News and Metroland Media Group York Region (print media sponsors).

For full details including location, download a PDF of the schedule.

To register, click:

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Media Contact:
Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22101 /