Conferences, Courses, Films and Public Lectures

Upcoming Lectures Relevant to Postgrads and Faculty

Speakers for GFCF 2017 Fall Series

Wednesday October 25 @ 4:00 pm– Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, one of the UK’s top public intellectual. Sacks will be brought by video in Chemistry Room D200.

The Dignity of Difference versus the Clash of Civilizations: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Speaks to the Positive Contribution of Religion in our Globalized World


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, a top public intellectual, affirms that religion can be part of human controversy today, but he wants to strongly emphasize that it also can and should be a big part of the solution to contemporary tensions and conflicts. It is especially true for him that the morality carried by religious traditions has a vital contribution with respect to the powerful forces of globalization in late capitalism. He wants to celebrate the differences among religious traditions and use them to preserve and enlarge, not stunt, our humanity. Sacks, a man of conservative temperament who follows a very orthodox version of Judaism, is a large-hearted person who has come to respect the different ways humanity has expressed its search for meaning (the dignity of difference). The liberating thing about his book and this talk, The Dignity of Difference, is that he uses it to open the wisdom of the Hebrew tradition, not out of religious arrogance, but because he believes it will help us find a way to heal the troubles that beset us. The astonishing thing about his achievement is that his application of the Hebrew religious genius to the human condition works whether you believe in God or not. He wants a world where all can participate on a level economic playing field. Judaism has always had a healthy attitude towards the world, but it has always sought moderation in its adherents and a strong sense of covenanted responsibility toward the less fortunate. It is for this reason that Rabbi Sacks’s analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the global market economy is so compelling and hopeful. He is attentive to important nuances of the human condition and the variety of motives. There is much that resonates with people concerned about the common good.


An international religious leader, philosopher, award-winning author and respected moral voice, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was awarded the 2016 Templeton Prize in recognition of his “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” Described by H.R.H. The Prince of Wales as “a light unto this nation” and by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as “an intellectual giant”, Rabbi Sacks is a frequent and sought after contributor to radio, television and the press both in Britain and around the world. Since stepping down as the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth – a position he served for 22 years between 1991 and 2013 – Rabbi Sacks has held a number of professorships at several academic institutions including Yeshiva University and King’s College London. He currently serves as the Ingeborg and Ira Rennert Global Distinguished Professor at New York University. Rabbi Sacks has been awarded 17 honorary doctorates including a Doctor of Divinity conferred to mark his first ten years in office as Chief Rabbi, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey.


Wednesday November 29 @ 4:00 pm, MacLeod Building Room 254, 2356 Main Mall

 Dr. Thomas Heilke, Professor of Political Science, UBC Okanagan Campus

Discerning the Times: Rethinking the Foundations and Sources of Democracy


Thomas Heilke begins with the Canadian Charter Myth: purporting values such as human progress and unfolding potentialities, inclusive pluralism and tolerance, autonomy, equality, freedom and respect.  These values are often seen to be endemic to liberal democracy. Professor Heilke will reflect on how Canadians currently see these values and feel about them. Next, he will ask where this cultural myth is grounded. Is it generally rooted in Enlightenment ideas from philosophers such as Locke, Hume, or Rousseau? Does the Christian religion have a role in grounding such inclusivity? Martin Luther King Jr. believed in a politics of agape love, with a strong emphasis on the virtue of the leader and non-violent change towards justice and the betterment of society. University of Massachusetts political scientist Glenn Tinder in his Political Meaning of Christianity also rooted human rights and liberal understandings of freedom and dignity in agape love. Most Canadians are generally agreed on some form of political humanism, with some level of commitment to the common good (more than mere individual freedom of choice). But in the November 2016 US Election, Americans voted in someone who does not share these basic liberal values to the same degree, creating a tension within the system and institutions of democracy, and tensions worldwide with other political leaders. Where is the hope of a way forward under these circumstances? People cannot afford to give up in despair, disgust or fear. As former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wrote in The Truce of God, “good people must not give in to fear, but find ways of staying fruitfully engaged.” Courage to stand up to political bullying seems to be called for, as well as a willingness to fight for the good institutions that took so long to build. Finally, we need to think more deeply about long term reform, and perhaps to dig deeper for robust sources of democracy. Thomas Heilke is uniquely gifted to guide us through these vital questions.


Thomas Heilke received his PhD from Duke University in 1990. After 23 years as a faculty member and a variety of administrative positions at the University of Kansas, he has been Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean of the College of Graduate Studies UBC Okanagan since January, 2014. He is the recipient of three teaching awards, and has written on a variety of topics in political philosophy, including civic friendship, political theology, the political thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, Eric Voegelin, John Howard Yoder, and Thucydides, and Anabaptist political thought. He has authored or co-authored four books and edited or co-edited six further volumes. His work has appeared in journals that include American Political Science Review, Political Theory, Polity, The Review of Politics, and Modern Theology. Among his published books are Voegelin on the Idea of Race: An Analysis of Modern European Racism (1990); Nietzsche’s Tragic Regime: Culture, Aesthetics, and Political Education (1998); Eric Voegelin: In Quest of Reality (1999). He co-edited with Ashley Woodwiss The Re-Enchantment of Political Science: Christian Scholars Engage Their Discipline, (2001). He belongs to the American Political Science Association and the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars.




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