About the Canada Conference - by invitation only

The Questions of ethnocultural and national identities have been, in Canada, as with in the United States, the object of many debates in philosophy and political science, mainly about the policies of multiculturalism and interculturalism. And sociologists have studied carefully the global movements of populations and their impact on the political, economic, and social life (transnationalism, for example) of the receiving, or host, countries.

The Canada Program, made possible by the William Lyon Mackenzie King endowment, presents rich intellectual opportunities for Canadian studies at Harvard: graduate and undergraduate courses offered by distinguished visiting Canadian scholars across the social sciences and professional schools, dissertation research grants for Harvard graduate students, thesis research and travel funding for Harvard undergraduates, a vibrant seminar series of esteemed Canadian guest speakers, and an annual faculty-led conference.

The endowment was established in 1967 following a campaign spearheaded by David Rockefeller, who wished to honor William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874–1950), a great friend of his father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. A Harvard graduate, Mackenzie King was deputy minister of labour in Canada when, in 1914, he was recruited as an industrial consultant tasked with brokering an agreement between management and labor workers at the Rockefeller-controlled Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. According to Harvard's Directory of Named Chairs, a dispute between management and labor had resulted in “a long, bitter and bloody strike against the company.” And, “[w]hile Rockefeller hoped King would help extricate his company from a labor dilemma which he believed had been badly handled, he had a larger purpose in urging the Rockefeller Foundation to use the Colorado situation as a means of recommending a plan of broad application to industrial relations generally.” King managed the situation, helped amend public perception of Rockefeller, and produced a book for the Foundation, Industry and Humanity (1918). After a time as industrial adviser to a number of American utility and extraction firms, King returned to Canadian politics, took leadership of the Liberal Party, and went on to serve Canada as prime minister for a collective 22 years.

In 1967, the president of the University of Toronto, Professor Claude T. Bissell, was named the first William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies. Bissell’s research assistant at the time was Michael Bliss, a distinguished Canadian historian, author, and former University of Toronto professor. Their time at Harvard was, Bliss recently noted, “one of the happiest years of our lives.”

Marcel Fournier, a sociologist at the University of Montreal, joins us as the 2014-2015 William Lyon Mackenzie KIng Chair. Professor Fournier is teaching two half courses through Harvard's Department of Sociology: Cultural Sociology: Space, Culture, and Society (spring 2015), and Cultural Sociology and Sociology of Culture (spring 2015).

Nicholas Bradley, an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria, is the 2014-2015 William Lyon Mackenzie King Research Fellow. Professor Bradley is teaching two half courses through Harvard's Department of English: Indigenous Literatures of North America - Oral and Written Traditions (fall 2014); and Poets of the Pacific West (spring 2015).