The Centre for Social Concern was established in 1982 and is engaged in research and public awareness around a variety of issues of social justice and peace here in Canada and internationally. Consistent with the mission of King’s University College as a Catholic institution of higher learning, the intention of the Centre is to bring issues of poverty, inequality, and other forms of injustice under the scrutiny of social analysis. Prevailing ideologies that help shape social and economic policies are questioned by bringing to bear the latest empirical data and analyses drawn from a variety of alternative publications, as well as the popular press.
Another feature of the Centre is its attempt to present to the community critical voices of people involved in attempting to create progressive social change. Over the course of the year, a number of speakers give open talks addressing whatever issue they are involved with. These speakers challenge us to think critically about our social, political and physical environment and encourage us to get involved in bringing about a more just and peaceful world for all, particularly for those least capable of making themselves heard.
In addition, we encourage students to get involved in social justice issues and to work with a variety of NGO's, and activist groups on campus and off, such as Amnesty International, Oxfam, Food Not Bombs, Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, and others.
Some of the issues we have addressed over the years have been poverty in Canada and globally, women's issues, work and unemployment, aboriginal issues, racism, the environment, and many other human rights, peace and justice issues.
We have had speakers from a variety of sectors who spoke of their experience of working on behalf of justice and peace issues. For example, representing faith communities we have had the late Archbishop Ted Scott, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Reverend Lois Wilson, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, Bishop Remi De Roo, bishop of Victoria, Ted Schmidt, editor of the Catholic New Times, Bishop Gumbleton of Detroit, noted for his work on peace and other social justice issues, and internationally recognized theologian and sociologist, Gregory Baum. From politics we have hosted MP Sheila Copps (a graduate of King's), Bob Rae when leader of the Ontario NDP, Svend Robinson, federal MP for Burnaby, Senator Douglas Roche, Canadian MP, Flora McDonald and many others. From labour we were honoured to host Caesar Chavez, organizer of the California farm workers, John Clarke while head of the Unemployed Workers' Union, labour historian, Bryan Palmer and others. Other noted speakers have been journalists Linda McQuaig, Naomi Klein, Judy Rebick, and activist Jaggi Singh, Tony Clark of the Polaris Institute, Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, Mel Watkins of Science for Peace, and Marc Kielburger, who with his brother, Craig founded Free the Children, a worldwide organization run by children addressing child labour.
Presently, the Centre for Social Concern works in close cooperation with the Social Justice and Peace Studies program at King's University College. This four year cross-disciplinary Social Justice and Peace Studies BA program is designed for students who wish to expand their awareness of social justice and peace issues, develop critical and analytical skills and actively engage in the promotion of justice and peace on an intellectual and practical level. Many of our speaking engagements and workshops are now held in one of the classes of the Social Justice and Peace Studies program into which the public is invited.
The Centre for Social Concern welcomes and encourages questions, suggestions and concerns. If you have a connection to a certain speaker, know of a social justice issue of particular concern, or want to make a general inquiry then please contact the Centre.